The stables treasury is a very interesting part of the ancient treasury of Russian Tsars and a unique museum collection of historical horse harness. Its singularity lies in historical complex unity, high artistic and material value.
By the 16th century, the Stables Office headed by a stables’ boyar was set up in the Kremlin. It managed the stables industry in the country, the making and keeping horse harness. The Stables Office numbered more than 400 attendants in the reign of Ivan IV, and over 700 in the reign of Alexey Mikhailovich. Its staff always accompanied Russian rulers in all trips. The equipment on the horses provided by the stables treasury was sparkling with gold and precious stones during troops’ reviews, welcoming and seeing off foreign ambassadors. The stables treasury was kept in the Stables Office building near the Kremlin’s Borovitskaya Tower gates, on the place of the present-day Armoury Chamber. In this very place, in the Stables Office’s workshops, there were made the majority of Russian horse harness, which has preserved in the museum collection till nowadays. The treasury was also replenished with saddles, harness and horse-clothes purchased from foreign merchants or sent as gifts to the Russian tsars from the rulers of neighboring countries. The collection of the Armoury Chamber contains ceremonial horse harness masterpieces made by Eastern (Turkish, Iranian) and West-European craftsmen.
In the epoch of Peter the Great’s reforms, traditional horse harness was replaced by combatant equipment of West-European type. The Stables Office was reformed and transferred to the new capital – Saint Petersburg. The stables treasury was carefully kept in Moscow as an important part of the Kremlin's Treasury but there had largely been the end to its active use in decorating ceremonial processions. In 1806, when the Armoury Chamber officially became a museum, a new stage in the life of the collection as a museum gathering has begun.
Nowadays, the collection numbers over than 1.500 items including silver- and gold-bound saddles, stirrups, various details of harness adorned with precious stones (i.e. headstalls, breast straps, crupper-strap), horse-clothes embroidered with gold and pearls, horsewhip, horse trappings – neck tassels, silver chains linking a bit to a saddle and jingling on the horses move, horse-harness frontlets and knee-guards. The most part of these pieces belong to the 17th century and is registered in the Royal stables treasury inventories of 1687-1706.
Among later arrivals, we should mention articles commemorating victories in the 18th-century Russo-Turkish Wars, such as presents to Catherine II from Sultan Abdul Hamid I and Selim III on the occasions of concluding the Treaty of Kuchuk Kaynarji (1774) and Jassy (1791).