Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Side Saddle & Women of Substance



Many of you have asked why women choose to ride side-saddle?  A wonderful question and hopefully you will find the answer.
The second question, how do you remain in the saddle when jumping?



The two pommel saddle is used. In the 1830s, Jules Pellier invented a sidesaddle design with a second, lower pommel to the sidesaddle
The Riding Habit:

The skirt or apron as it is sometimes referred to is designed for safety and worn over jodhpurs.


Early images of Greek pottery and Celtic stones depict women riding sidesaddle. 
The earliest functional "sidesaddle" was credited to Anne of Bohemia (1366–1394) It was a chair-like affair where the woman sat sideways on the horse with her feet on a small footrest. The design made it difficult for a woman to both stay on and use the reins to control the horse, so the animal was usually led by another rider, sitting astride.
A more practical design, developed in the 16th century, has been attributed to Catherine de' Medici.  In her design, the rider sat facing forward, hooking her right leg around the pommel of the saddle with a horn added to the near side of the saddle to secure the rider's right knee. The footrest was replaced with a "slipper stirrup", a leather-covered stirrup of  iron into which the rider's left foot was placed.

Side Saddle Ireland Publishes upcoming events.  Please contact should you wish to join them and seek further knowledge.
Susan Oakes (world record for highest jump on sidesaddle) get dressed for event in Jan 2013.











The beautiful Nadina kindly gave me permission to use her photos from a recent event.  She is a woman with extraordinary talents.  Her photos and artwork will delight.

HRH Queen Elizabeth riding side-saddle in 1986

Are you ready to join this group of fun-loving women as they take to the fields?

48 comments:

  1. O my goodness...this looks like tremendous fun! I felt as if I were already there. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mona

      Thank you for travelling along with us. Wishing you a weekend of joy
      Helen x

      Delete
  2. What an interesting post, Helen. Thanks for your research and Nadina's photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jackie & Joel.

      I am glad you found the post of interest. Nadina's is a very talented photographer and very kindly permitted her incredible photos.
      I am so grateful to her

      Helen x

      Delete
  3. Wow~this was in interesting post Helen, especially given the fact that in my part of the world, the women (not me) ride just like a man and can do things on a horse that amaze you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. The majority of women in Ireland sit astride the horse. The choice of riding side-saddle and the event is a different category entirely.
      Hope your week is special
      Helenxx

      Delete
  4. Yes very interesting Helen - I wondered how they balanced themselves. It still looks awfully difficult to me though! Great photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sulky

      I think you could ride side-saddle with one hand, oops I mean with one paw. The photos are excellent.
      I am returning to read further comments on your recent post, you make me laugh. I cannot even look at your picture without smirking. Glad I did not sit near you in class.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  5. Merci for this informative post, Helen. I have always wondered how women could actually STAY on top of a horse with this type of saddle. I must be honest and confess that your explanations did not make it sound any easier :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello dear Veronique

      Thanks for stopping by and I think you could master the side-saddle without much bother. One definitely needs to wear their big girl pants oops skirt when trying this

      Helen xx

      Delete
  6. I am absolutely slack-jawed at this post and the first thing that came to me was the quote about Ginger Rogers: "Sure he was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards...and in high heels!"

    What brave women.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Heather

      What a terrific analogy, thank you for this. You have succinctly described the difference between riding astride the horse and side-saddle. Merci boucoup

      Helen xx

      Delete
  7. This is so interesting Helen; it has never ceased to fascinate me how women do this, and the explanation of the skirt is intriguing too. Thank for for showing Nadina's lovely photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Patricia

      Thank you for stopping by and I am so happy you found this post to be of interest. Nadina is most generous with her art.
      Helen xx

      Delete
  8. Can I watch from the sidleline and take photos Helen? I have a feeling I would be laughing so hard trying to master it that I would constantly fall off...although it would be fun.. xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think you could master side-saddle Jeanne. You are also a very skilled photographer so I should be conflicted in my decision.
    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. Looks like it would put a terrible strain on the lower back, being twisted as it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sarah

      Thanks for commenting. I shall leave this question to someone more knowledgeable on the subject. I am hoping one of the riders will respond.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  11. Hello Helen:
    We always think that riding side saddle looks so very elegant. However, the thought of actually doing it, let alone jumping over hurdles, leaves us afraid...very afraid. We are quite content to leave it to the experts and to be mere observers. The sight of the side saddle riding women would surely be an impressive event to behold!

    We have been fascinated to read your account of the development of the side saddle. Quite extraordinary.Alas, our knowledge of all things equestrian is sadly lacking and, perhaps we should not mention it here, but horse sausage is popular here in the Motherland!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Jane and Lance

      On behalf of the Irish Side Saddle Association we extend our warmest invitation for you to join as observers and well wishers. Your presence will enhance the elegance of the event. Perhaps, we can gently persuade you to sit in the saddle strictly for a photo op? I can hear all the Irish mothers encouraging you by "Ah come on now, Ah you will, Ah sure you might as well, sure life is short, just throw your leg over and be done with it"
      Fondest wishes

      Helen xx

      Delete
  12. Dear Helen,
    There is certainly an air of elegance in seeing someone ride side saddle. HOwever side saddle or astride, I doubt I shall ever take part. I well remember the one and only time I sat on a horse. It was a dark brown horse. I was ten years old. It was very tall and I felt a long way from the ground. I vaguely recall screaming out no no no until I was lifted down: and that was that. I don't mind feeding horses (there is something strangely affectionate in a horse snuffling your open palm for the grass therein), or stroking there noses and maybe one day I might be tempted to sit astride a donkey (closer to the ground) but I am not guaranteeing it!
    Kirk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kirk

      I love you spirit in that you are prepared to ride a donkey. Some of the supposed innocent donkeys on our farm were more feisty than the horses, so I would say pick your donkey carefully. It is such an elegant way to ride and requires such skill. On Feb 02 at Melton Mowbray is Dianas of the Chase and many of the Irish riders are participating, including the world champion Susan Oakes.

      Wishing you a glorious weekend

      Helen xx

      Delete
  13. Very interesting! I didn't know that anyone still rode sidesaddle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jen
      Thanks for stopping by. Do you ride?
      Have a lovely weekend

      Helen xx

      Delete
  14. Very interesting information and not something I would have thought about, so I'm glad you enlightened us on side-saddle riding. Is this sport done in the U.S.? I don't think I've ever heard of it being done, but then again, I don't follow the news of the equestrian world. Do you ride side-saddle, Helen?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sanda

      Thanks for stopping by. I believe there is side-saddle riding in the USA. At the Irish event two weeks ago, a rider from Virginia travelled over to participate.
      I have ridden English and Western saddle but not side saddle and I know it is something I will do one day soon, even if I just ride around the paddock.

      Have a wonderful weekend

      Helen

      Delete
  15. Lovely images, Helen! Round here, horse riding is very popular. I see people riding past my house, sometimes.

    I am not into horses, very much, as I am scared of them. They are much too big, though extremely beautiful creatures, a favourite subject for a number of artists.

    Horses don't like me...

    Maybe, in my next life I'll be a horse lover, or even a horse. If this should be the case, I hope to be born in UK, just to make sure I don't get made into sausages or stakes!

    HAPPY WEEKEND!

    ANNA

    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anna

      Thanks for stopping by and always lovely to hear from you. I agree if there is reincarnation as a horse, England or Ireland would be it for me too.

      Hope your week is special

      Helen xx

      Delete
  16. Dear Helen,

    I think I prefer watching them :-)! I would love to learn to ride a horse one day, but riding side saddle is one step too far ahead!

    Happy weekend,

    Madelief x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Madelief

      I think you would look very elegant dressed for side-saddle.
      I am sure you will master riding. WE used take a riding holiday each year in Arizona, where it was room, board and a horse for ten days.
      Hope you have a wonderful week

      Helen xx

      Delete
  17. It does look romantically elegant! I adore the attire they wear!! I won't be joining them, my lower back would be a problem and horses are so large, I've never been comfortable on one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is very elegant and I agree with you on the attire being so attractive. I hope your lower back remains healthy

      To a great week

      Helenx

      Delete
  18. Interesting tidbits, Helen. I had no idea. The "high heel" quote above came to me too! *smile* What interesting times you have!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jacqueline

      I am delighted you found this post of interest. I find it fascinating and yesterday the Irish side saddle rider, Susan Oakes won Dianas of the Chase at Melton Mowbray. Very exciting.
      Helenxx

      Delete
  19. The skills these women have are so impressive...it's truly an athletic feat, and an art, to ride like that while doing those amazing maneuvers...very dramatic to see!
    One always thinks of riding side saddle as just a lady-like way to sit on a horse, but these ladies have proved otherwise...brava to them, and to you Helen, for enlightening us all!
    xo J~

    (Also...my Aunt is well, she hasn't passed, the photos were just a wonderful gift from her.) ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jessica

      I agree with you of the skill and endurance needed for this sport. I am totally engrossed in it. Yesterday, Dianas of the Chase was held at Melton Mowbray in England and the over-all winner of the hunt was Ireland's Susan Oakes riding side-saddle. Her horse, O’muircheartaigh is a beauty.

      My apologies for my assumption of your Aunt, is there a way you can remove this from my comment.

      Helen x

      Delete
  20. This is fabulous love learning a bit about riding side saddle wow who knew..lol! Thanks Helen for this informative post.

    Bette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bette
      I am happy to read you have enjoyed this post (pardon the pun).

      Wishing you a week of joy

      Helen xx

      Delete
  21. Hi Helen, thank you very much for this post - I did not know that there was a side saddle hunt for women. I am glad to hear that there is such an event especially for women. There are a few episodes in Downton Abbey where Lady Mary is seen riding side saddle and she looks wonderfully elegant and composed.
    Best wishes,
    Louise

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hello Louise

    Side saddle is making quite the revival, particularly in Ireland and England. It is not for the faint hearted, particularly steeplechase and jumping. I love Downton Abbey and Lady Mary looks so elegant on horseback.
    Wishing you a great week

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  23. Delightful photos of horses and their riders. I must watch Downtown Abbey and note Lady Mary's riding :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello Rebecca

    Thank you for visiting and I'm happy you enjoyed the images.
    Downton Abbey is very good. I would suggest you start with Series 1 (it is now in series 3 on TV) as there is a vast number of actors.

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hello Helen,

    What an interestingly informative post! Thank you so much for sharing these facts regarding women and the side saddle. Beautiful photos, too!

    Poppy xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Poppy
      I am delighted to read you found this post to be interesting.
      Hope you are staying warm if you are still in the snow belt.

      Helen xx

      Delete
  26. Hi Helen, as a fellow sidesaddle rider all I can say is how much I love it. Naturally posture is most important for the health and safety of both the horse and rider. Nothing worse than seeing a sloppy rider with armchair posture, legs and arms all over the place. I would say to anyone interested to get in touch with the Sidesaddle association or their local club and give it a go!
    http://www.sidesaddleassociation.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Curator

      I am delighted to see your comment and to know you ride side-saddle. It is good to hear your suggestions and recommendations. Thank you for also listing the UK side saddle site. Were you at Dianas of the Chase last weekend, when Susan Oaks made history?
      Have a great week

      Helen xx

      Delete
  27. I was looking at a side saddle the other day and thinking how uncomfortable it must be and perhaps bad for the back if used a lot. But your pictures show me that there is fun and interest in mastering an additional riding challenge. And it looks wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  28. i was always blown away by women who jump while riding side saddle.

    it seems scary to me,
    and i am a jumper.

    xox love this post~

    ReplyDelete