For women, sitting aside on a equine dates ago to antiquity. For the main part, men rode horses; ladies were merely passengers, sit behind the men, one of two people holding the man roughly the belt or sitting on a tiny padded seat or pillion. This to be partly as result of their long, hefty skirts; it to be impractical come ride astride. Additionally riding side-saddle was seen to preserve the ladies’ modesty.

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The idea of it being indecent for a lady to ride astride deserve to be traced ago to 1382, as soon as Princess ann of Bohemia talk side-saddle throughout Europe ~ above her means to marry King Richard II. Talk side-saddle was viewed as a way to protect her virginity. Soon it was considered vulgar for any type of woman to ride astride.

By the late center Ages, it had become obvious that for females to ride a horse, a saddle would need to be specially design to permit the woman to manage the horse yet still keep a proper level that decency.

The earliest practical side-saddle was a chair-like construction, whereby the woman satellite sideways on the steed with she feet ~ above a footrest, designed in the late 14th century. Catherine de Medici is said to have emerged a much more practical style in the 16th century. Quite than keeping both feet placed side by side on the footrest, she put her right leg over the pommel the the saddle, so regarding show off she shapely ankle and also calf to their finest advantage! talk this means allowed the rider much much more control of the horse and also even allowed the driver to trot and canter safely.

Riding at speed, sitting aside

Over time additional adjustments to be made ​​to the saddle, however it to be the introduction of a second pommel in the 1830s that was revolutionary. This extr pommel offered women both raised security and additional freedom of motion when riding side-saddle. This permitted them to continue to be on at a gallop and even to run fences when hunting and also show jumping, whilst still conforming come the expected levels of propriety and modesty.

At this time it was practically exclusively women of the greater social classes who rode. Indeed until the 1850s, riding and also dance to be the only socially acceptable physical activities for girls and also women that the aristocracy and upper classes.

Diagram showing the place of the legs once riding side-saddle

By the victor era, the attitude of a woman riding side-saddle was very much as it is today. The rider satellite astride, through the appropriate hip ago to enable the shoulders to loss into line. The ideal leg was placed on the former of the saddle, with the left leg bent and also resting on the saddle and the foot in the slipper stirrup.

As for riding attire, it wasn’t till the late 16th century that a habit especially designed for riding side-saddle was introduced. Prior to this time, usual day wear was worn for riding. The very first ‘safety skirt’ was developed in 1875, to assist prevent terrible mishaps where ladies were captured by their skirts and dragged by their horses if castle fell. These safety skirts buttoned follow me the seams and later emerged into one apron dress buttoned around the waist, simply covering the legs (which to be encased in breeches).

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In the at an early stage 20th century it became socially acceptable for ladies to journey astride if wearing split skirts or breeches, and also the side-saddle started to fall out the fashion. The climb of women’s suffrage also played a role; come the Suffragettes, talk side-saddle to be a price of male domination. And also so through 1930, riding astride had come to be totally acceptable and also the preferred technique of riding because that women.


However, during the last few years there has actually been a revival in the arts of talk side-saddle. You could speak to it the ‘Lady Mary’ effect: the fictional heroine the Downton Abbey hunts aside, and seems to have sparked a brand-new interest among women riders. Teams such together the ‘Flying Foxes’ and ‘A bit on the Side’ deserve to be seen riding in ~ displays about the country. Indeed, a brand-new British side-saddle high run record has actually just been set by Michaela Bowling – at 6ft 3in!