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Using /replaceitem you cannot set the horse saddle to air (remove it), one would expect it to function the same as any other slot.
- Summon a horse:
- Add a saddle:
→ See "Replaced a slot on Horse with [Saddle]"
- Try to remove the saddle:
→ See "Could not put [Air] in slot 400"
The following is based on a decompiled version of Minecraft using MCP for 1.11.
The replaceItemInInventory() method in class net.minecraft.entity.passive.AbstractHorse requires the item to be a saddle at all times:
This is unlike other mob equipment such as ArmorItems, where the contents can be deleted by replacing with "air".