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Origins of Sidesaddle

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  • Origins of Sidesaddle

    I just watched the original "Adventures of Robin Hood", with Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland* ... for the 6.02x10 to the 23rd time tonight (points for anyone who remembers their high school chemistry) and it got me thinking.

    I've wondered about this for a long time, and have gotten anecdotal answers along the way. They range from a supposed 17th century British royal that had one leg shorter than the other, to Victorian issues with having something ... how should I say? ... strong and exciting between a woman's legs.

    I've seen some really impressive demonstrations of sidesaddle seat on the flat and over fences. God bless you ladies!

    But I wonder how it started - what is the earliest reference to that particular seat, the earliest example of a side SADDLE extant?


    *BTW - the horse she rides in the movie is TRIGGER, before Gene Autry acquired him!
    Last edited by Mor4ward; Sep. 27, 2009, 08:33 PM.
    ... It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Shwung

  • #2
    According to Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidesaddle

    "The earliest depictions of women riding with their legs on the side of the horse can be seen in Greek vases, sculptures, and Celtic stones. Medieval depictions show women seated aside with the horse being led by a man, or seated on a small padded seat (a pillion) behind a male rider. 9th century depictions show a small footrest, or planchette added to the pillion."

    The first sidesaddle that enabled the rider to effedively control the horse "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 "modern" sidesaddle, with two pommels, wasn't developed until 1830.

    But women also rode astride
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

    Comment


    • #3
      My mom, Jackie C. Burke (writes the 'look back' column for hte CotH) wrote a definitive book on hte history of women in horses, including hte side saddle history/debate. It is called "Equal To The Challenge". You might find it online.
      * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.

      Comment


      • #4
        One of my favorite quotes goes along the lines of

        If the world was a logical place, it would be men riding sidesaddle.

        Comment


        • #5
          Check this; http://www.georgialadiesaside.com/drupal/?q=node/33

          and; http://www.sidesaddleassociation.co.uk/
          ... _. ._ .._. .._

          Comment


          • #6
            Tell your mom Thank You for an awesome book! I treasure my copy.

            Originally posted by Hunter's Rest View Post
            My mom, Jackie C. Burke (writes the 'look back' column for hte CotH) wrote a definitive book on hte history of women in horses, including hte side saddle history/debate. It is called "Equal To The Challenge". You might find it online.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Janet View Post
              According to Wikipedia
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidesaddle

              "The earliest depictions of women riding with their legs on the side of the horse can be seen in Greek vases, sculptures, and Celtic stones. Medieval depictions show women seated aside with the horse being led by a man, or seated on a small padded seat (a pillion) behind a male rider. 9th century depictions show a small footrest, or planchette added to the pillion."

              The first sidesaddle that enabled the rider to effedively control the horse "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 "modern" sidesaddle, with two pommels, wasn't developed until 1830.

              But women also rode astride
              I'm sure that back "in the day" women might have ridden astride, but ladies only rode aside...
              F O.B
              Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
              Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Linny View Post
                I'm sure that back "in the day" women might have ridden astride, but ladies only rode aside...
                I guess it depends on your definition of "lady". From the same article
                Women such as Diane de Poitiers (mistress to Henry II of France) and Marie Antoinette were known to ride astride. Catherine the Great of Russia went so far as to commission a portrait showing her riding astride wearing a male officer's uniform.[2]
                Janet

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Linny View Post
                  I'm sure that back "in the day" women might have ridden astride, but ladies only rode aside...
                  My mom ... (now 88 years old) used to tell me about the beatings she'd get at the hands of my grandmother for riding bareback astride.
                  It was Europe ... and a very long time ago.
                  ... It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Shwung

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Clearly Catherine the Great was no lady at least not in the view of Mor4ward's grandma!
                    F O.B
                    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Linny View Post
                      Clearly Catherine the Great was no lady at least not in the view of Mor4ward's grandma!
                      Wow - funny that you said that, Linny.
                      Because those beatings took place in Russia (actually - the newly founded Soviet Union)
                      ... It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Shwung

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Having just read a dual biography of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, the book explained that Catherine was not a good rider, and brought the sidesaddle to France as a means of hiding this lack of skill and keeping her on the horse Whereas Diane was an avid huntress, and rode astride.

                        (Very much recommend Princess Michael of Kent's "The Serpent and the Moon" if you're interested in these two ladies.)
                        A Year In the Saddle

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Glad to get these references. I love to read about riding aside..as I am just learning how to ride it now! Just got my saddle back from Lillian Chaudhary in CA. She resroted it and gave me quite a bit of information about it...dating it to 1890! I was thrilled!
                          Julie
                          www.equusvilla.blogspot.com
                          www.ridingaside.blogspot.com
                          www.miniaturecheviot.blogspot.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The original, PRACTICAL reasn may have something to do with the reason women (until modern days) generally wore skirts. MENSTRUATION. Can you IMAGINE having to go somewhere on horseback with only towels?

                            ETA I think that old-fashioned men, being pretty protective of 'their' women's private parts, would not want women traipsing all over the countryside with legs spread and the skirts they wore flying up and exposing 'limbs.'
                            Last edited by nightsong; Oct. 1, 2009, 03:10 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              On the idea of sidesaddle being more ladylike - in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the illustrations show the Prioress riding aside, and the Wife of Bath riding astride. You can draw your own conclusions, based on the attitudes of both. There are also illustrations of men wearing robes (clergy/scholars) riding seated sideways.

                              http://ilaria.veltri.tripod.com/sidesaddle.html has a neat overview.
                              www.kentuckysidesaddle.com

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