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Sidesaddle riding is a form of Equestrianism
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 that uses a type of saddle
Saddle
A saddle is a supportive structure for a rider or other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse, but specialized saddles have been created for camels and other creatures...

 which allows a rider (usually female) to sit aside rather than astride a horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

, mule
Mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

 or pony
Pony
A pony is a small horse . Depending on context, a pony may be a horse that is under an approximate or exact height at the withers, or a small horse with a specific conformation and temperament. There are many different breeds...

. Sitting aside dates back to antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

 and developed in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an countries in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 as a way for women in skirts to ride a horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 in a modest fashion while also wearing fine clothing. It has retained a specialty equestrian niche even in the modern world.

History



The earliest depictions of women riding with their legs on the side of the horse can be seen in Greek vases, sculptures, and Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic 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. These designs did not allow a woman to control a horse; she was merely a passenger. Women had to ride astride in order to obtain the security of position required to actually control the animal themselves.

In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the sidesaddle developed in part because cultural norms for the upper social classes dictated that it was unbecoming for a woman
Woman
A woman , pl: women is a female human. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent...

 of apparent wealth or high social status to straddle a horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 while riding. Further, since long skirts were the required fashion, riding astride in such attire was often impractical and awkward, and it could be "immodest". However, women of status did ride horses and needed to be able to control their own animals, so there was a need for a saddle designed to allow both control of the horse and modesty for the rider.


The earliest functional "sidesaddle" was credited to Anne of Bohemia
Anne of Bohemia
Anne of Bohemia was Queen of England as the first wife of King Richard II. A member of the House of Luxembourg, she was the eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Elizabeth of Pomerania....

 (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 rein
Rein
Reins are items of horse tack, used to direct a horse or other animal used for riding or driving. Reins can be made of leather, nylon, metal, or other materials, and attach to a bridle via either its bit or its noseband.-Use for riding:...

s to control the horse, so the animal was usually led by another rider, usually male, and sitting astride. The insecure design of the early sidesaddle also contributed to the popularity of the Palfrey
Palfrey
A palfrey is a type of horse highly valued as a riding horse in the Middle Ages. It is not a breed.The word "palfrey" is cognate with the German word for horse , "Pferd". Both descend from Latin "paraveredus", meaning a post horse or courier horse...

, a smaller horse with smooth ambling
Ambling
The term amble or ambling is used to describe a number of four-beat intermediate gaits of horses. All are faster than a walk but usually slower than a canter or gallop...

 gaits, as a suitable mount for women.

A more practical design, developed in the 16th century, has been attributed to Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici
Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who was Queen consort of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II of France....

. 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
Stirrup
A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle by a strap, often called a stirrup leather. Stirrups are usually paired and are used to aid in mounting and as a support while using a riding animal...

 iron into which the rider's left foot was placed. This saddle allowed the rider both to stay on and to control her own horse, at least at slower speeds.

However, in spite of cultural pressures, not all women of the nobility adopted the sidesaddle at all times. Women such as Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers was a French noblewoman and a prominent courtier at the courts of kings Francis I and his son, Henry II of France. She became notorious as the latter's favourite mistress...

 (mistress to Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

) and Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

 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.

Two pommel design




In the 1830s, Jules Pellier invented a sidesaddle design with a second, lower pommel to the sidesaddle. In this design, still in use today, one pommel is nearly vertical, mounted approximately 10 degrees left of top dead center and curved gently to the right and up. The rider’s right leg goes around the top, or fixed pommel, which supports the right thigh of the rider when it is lying across the top center of the saddle. The lower right leg rests along the shoulder of the left (near) side of the horse and up against the second pommel (called the leaping head or leaping horn.) which lies below the first on the left of the saddle. It is mounted about 20 degrees off the top of the saddle. This pommel is curved gently downward in order to curve over the top of the rider's left thigh, and is attached in a manner so that it could pivot slightly, to adjust to the individual rider. The rider places her left leg beneath this pommel, with the top of the thigh close or lightly touching it, and places her left foot in a single stirrup on that side.

The impact of the second pommel was revolutionary; the additional horn gave women both increased security and additional freedom of movement when riding sidesaddle, which allowed them to stay on at a gallop
Horse gait
Horse gaits are the various ways in which a horse can move, either naturally or as a result of specialized training by humans.-Classification:...

 and even to jump fences while fox hunting
Fox hunting
Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase, and sometimes killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.Fox hunting originated in its current...

 and show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

. With this design, nearly all recreational equestrian
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 pursuits were opened to women, yet they could also conform to societal expectations for modesty. For example, a world record in sidesaddle show jumping was set at 6 ft, 6 inches at a horse show
Horse show
A Horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or national and...

 in Sydney, Australia in 1915. The leaping horn was the last major technological innovation for the sidesaddle and remains the core of basic design even for saddles of modern manufacture made with space-age materials.

Attire and its influence




The riding habit
Riding habit
A riding habit is women's clothing for horseback riding.Since the mid-17th century, a formal habit for riding sidesaddle usually consisted of:* A tailored jacket with a long skirt to match* A tailored shirt or chemisette...

 worn by woman riding sidesaddle originally was similar to clothing worn in everyday life. It wasn’t until the second half of the 16th century that a riding habit specifically designed for sidesaddle riding was introduced, though sidesaddle habit design still tended to follow fashion of the day. In 1875, the first safety skirt was introduced and later evolved into the open-sided apron.

In the early 20th century, as it became socially acceptable for women to ride astride while wearing split skirts, and eventually, breeches
Breeches
Breeches are an item of clothing covering the body from the waist down, with separate coverings for each leg, usually stopping just below the knee, though in some cases reaching to the ankles...

, the sidesaddle fell out of general use for several decades. The rise of women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 also played a role as women rejected traditional restrictions in their physical activities as well as seeking greater social, political and economic freedoms. However, there remained a place for sidesaddle riding in certain traditional and ceremonial circumstances, and aficionados kept the tradition alive until the sport enjoyed a revival beginning in the 1970s.

Men


There are occasional examples of men riding sideways or sidesaddle on a horse other than for humorous, drag
Drag (clothing)
Drag is used for any clothing carrying symbolic significance but usually referring to the clothing associated with one gender role when worn by a person of another gender. The origin of the term "drag" is unknown, but it may have originated in Polari, a gay street argot in England in the early...

, or satirical purposes. One example was during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 when laying field telephone
Field telephone
Field telephones are mobile telephones intended for military use, designed to withstand wartime conditions. They can draw power from their own battery, from a telephone exchange , or from an external power source. Some need no battery, being sound-powered telephones.Field telephones were first used...

 cable from a cable-drum from the back of a galloping horse. Sometimes farm workmen riding very wide-backed draft horse
Draft horse
A draft horse , draught horse or dray horse , less often called a work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour...

s bareback
Bareback
Bareback riding is a form of horseback riding without a saddle.Bareback may also refer to:* A type of rodeo event* Bareback , an act of unprotected sex* "Bareback" , a 2003 glam metal song...

 to or from the fields found it easier to sit sideways than astride. Some modern male riders with certain types of back injuries also claim riding sidesaddle is helpful. Writer Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown is an American writer. She is best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. Published in 1973, it dealt with lesbian themes in an explicit manner unusual for the time...

 once stated, "If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle."

Sidesaddle today



While sidesaddles came to be regarded by many in the horse world as a quaint anachronism
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

, some modern riders have found new applications in the horse show
Horse show
A Horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or national and...

 ring, in historical reenactment
Historical reenactment
Historical reenactment is an educational activity in which participants attempt torecreate some aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, such as the reenactment of Pickett's Charge at the Great Reunion of 1913, or as broad as an entire...

s, and in parade
Parade
A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind...

s or other exhibitions. The modern sidesaddle rider may be seen in many equestrian
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 disciplines, including dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

, eventing
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

, show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

, western pleasure
Western Pleasure
Western Pleasure is a western style competition at horse shows that evaluates horses on manners and suitability of the horse for a relaxed but collected gait cadence and relatively slow speed of gait, along with calm and responsive disposition. The horse is to appear to be a "pleasure" to ride and...

, and saddle seat
Saddle seat
Saddle Seat is a style of horseback riding within the category of English riding that is designed to show off the high trotting action of certain horse breeds. The style developed into its modern form in the United States, and is also seen in Canada and South Africa...

-style English pleasure
English Pleasure
English pleasure is generic term for a number of different English riding classes seen at horse shows in the United States, where the horse is ridden in either hunt seat or saddle seat tack....

. Specialty sidesaddle classes with either traditional equipment or period costume are popular at many horse show
Horse show
A Horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or national and...

s. Another common place to see a sidesaddle is the hunt
Fox hunting
Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase, and sometimes killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.Fox hunting originated in its current...

 field, where the tradition is preserved by various sidesaddle devotees. Riders with certain types of physical disabilities
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

 also find sidesaddles more comfortable than riding astride, and they are found useful by some people who have lost part of a leg. In addition, the sidesaddle has become a part of many therapeutic riding programs
Therapeutic horseback riding
Therapeutic horseback riding is used to teach riding skills to people with disabilities...

, because the design of the saddle provides extra security to certain types of riders.

Available equipment


Although sidesaddles are still manufactured today, it is a small niche market, and a new model is quite expensive. Thus, many riders who wish to ride sidesaddle are often found hunting for older saddles at antique shops, estate sales, and in dusty attics or barn
Barn
A barn is an agricultural building used for storage and as a covered workplace. It may sometimes be used to house livestock or to store farming vehicles and equipment...

 lofts. It is difficult to find an antique sidesaddle that not only fits the rider and horse but also is in good condition. Old sidesaddles usually need reconditioning, sometimes even requiring complete removal of the leather and examination of the tree (the wooden understructure of a saddle). The saddle must be fitted to the horse, and ideally, such fitting is done by a specialist experienced in sidesaddle construction. Antique sidesaddles are frequently a problem to fit, as many are too narrow for modern horses.

Modern sidesaddles are usually based on the Jules Pellier two pommel design. The underlying tree, girthing system, flap or fender design, styling features and type of leather used may differ, however, the structure of the fixed pommel and leaping horn is a consistent design feature across all riding styles. Historical reenactment
Historical reenactment
Historical reenactment is an educational activity in which participants attempt torecreate some aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, such as the reenactment of Pickett's Charge at the Great Reunion of 1913, or as broad as an entire...

 participants, notably those in American Civil War reenactment
American Civil War reenactment
American Civil War reenactment is an effort to recreate the appearance of a particular battle or other event associated with the American Civil War by hobbyists known as Civil War reenactors or Civil War recreationists...

s, also tend to use the two pommel sidesaddle, since the single pommel sidesaddle that was used into mid-19th century is now regarded as creating an insufficiently secure seat for safe riding.

Sidesaddle competition




Many horse show
Horse show
A Horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or national and...

s include judged exhibitions ("classes") of sidesaddle riding. Sidesaddle classes are judged on manners and performance of the horse and rider, suitability of specific style, and appointments.

English sidesaddle classes


English
English riding
English riding is a term used to describe a form of horse riding that is seen throughout the world. There are many variations in English riding, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian...

 sidesaddle classes are based on style and norms found in the hunt field from 100 years ago. Dress, appointments, riding style, and even the type of horse used are all judged against a formalized standard for an "ideal" appearance. The riding habit in such classes is the formal attire found in the hunt field, starting with a coat and apron. The apron used is based on the open-sided safety apron developed in the late 19th century. The rider wears ordinary breeches or jodhpurs
Jodhpurs
Jodhpurs in their modern form are tight-fitting trousers that reach to the ankle, where they end in a snug cuff, and are worn primarily for horse riding. The term is also used incorrectly as slang for a type of short riding boot, also called a paddock boot or a jodhpur boot, because they are worn...

, over which she will wear the apron, which can partially open in the back. The jacket is usually cut a bit longer than a standard riding jacket. A vest, shirt, choker or stock tie, gloves, boots and riding breeches are similar to those used when riding astride. For classes on the flat, a derby or top hat
Top hat
A top hat, beaver hat, high hat silk hat, cylinder hat, chimney pot hat or stove pipe hat is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, predominantly worn from the latter part of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century...

 is traditional. When jumping, however, tradition gives way to safety and most riders use a modern equestrian helmet, which is often mandatory equipment in competition rules.

The Saddle seat
Saddle seat
Saddle Seat is a style of horseback riding within the category of English riding that is designed to show off the high trotting action of certain horse breeds. The style developed into its modern form in the United States, and is also seen in Canada and South Africa...

 variation of English sidesaddle, seen almost exclusively in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in certain breed shows, allows riders to emulate the "Park" riders who rode flashy, high-stepping horses on the flat, often literally in public parks. The sidesaddle is essentially the same, and the rider may wear almost the same attire as the "hunt" version, an apron with breeches underneath, but with a coat having a noticeably longer cut, sometimes in bright colors, sometimes with a contrasting lining, and either a top hat or a derby. The shirt and vest will be of the style used in astride saddle seat classes, in that the vest will match either the coat or the coat lining, the shirt will be a standard menswear dress shirt, and a "Four-in-hand"
Four-in-hand knot
The four-in-hand knot is a method of tying a necktie. Also known as a simple knot or schoolboy knot, the four-in-hand is believed to be the most popular method of tying ties due to its simplicity...

 tie will be worn. When show rules permit, some saddle seat style riders adopt a period costume, often based on an antique riding habit from the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

.

Western sidesaddle classes


The western
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

 sidesaddle class is similar to the English class but with a sidesaddle having western design features, and riders wearing western style clothing
Western wear
Western wear is a category of men's and women's clothing which derives its unique style from the clothes worn in the 19th-century American West. It ranges from accurate historical reproductions of pioneer, mountain man, Civil War, cowboy and vaquero clothing to the stylized garments popularized by...

. Riders generally wear a western-styled apron with belt, worn over some type of breeches or pants, but a modified two-leg chaps
Chaps
Chaps are sturdy coverings for the legs consisting of leggings and a belt. They are buckled on over trousers with the chaps' integrated belt, but unlike trousers they have no seat and are not joined at the crotch. They are designed to provide protection for the legs and are usually made of leather...

 design in leather or ultrasuede is sometimes seen, though not legal in some types of competition. Period costumes with a regular skirt are also seen in the western show ring. Western riders usually wear a short bolero-style jacket that matches the apron or skirt, often with elaborate decoration, gloves, cowboy boot
Cowboy boot
Cowboy boots refer to a specific style of riding boot, historically worn by cowboys. They have a Cuban heel, rounded to pointed toe, high shaft, and, traditionally, no lacing...

s and a cowboy hat
Cowboy hat
The cowboy hat is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat best known as the defining piece of attire for the North American cowboy. Today it is worn by many people, and is particularly associated with ranch workers in the western and southern United States, western Canada and northern Mexico, with...

. A variation to western-style sidesaddle riding is to wear Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 or Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 style regalia, often based on historic designs.

Other equipment


A breastcollar is usually added to stabilize the saddle, and, less often, a crupper
Crupper
A crupper is a piece of tack used on horses and other equids to keep a saddle, harness or other equipment from sliding forward.-Construction:...

. There are no substantive differences in the bridle
Bridle
A bridle is a piece of equipment used to direct a horse. As defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, the "bridle" includes both the headstall that holds a bit that goes in the mouth of a horse, and the reins that are attached to the bit....

s used for sidesaddle and astride riding. Because riders hands are a little farther from the horse's mouth as the riders are seated further back than when astride, bridles may require rein
Rein
Reins are items of horse tack, used to direct a horse or other animal used for riding or driving. Reins can be made of leather, nylon, metal, or other materials, and attach to a bridle via either its bit or its noseband.-Use for riding:...

s that are a longer than standard astride reins. This is most often a problem for western-style
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

 riding with romal
Romal
A Romal , is a type of long quirt attached to the end of a set of closed reins that are connected to the bridle of a horse. It is not to be used to strike a horse, but rather was a tool used to assist in moving cattle....

reins, which are sized for astride riders and sometimes require extensions for use by sidesaddle riders.

Riding techniques


Riding correctly is critical to protect the horse from injury as well as for the safety of the rider. Because both legs of the rider are on the same side of the horse, there is considerable concern that too much weight will be placed on only one side of the horse, which can cause physical harm to the animal. In addition, if a rider is not balanced, a sidesaddle may need to be cinched up
Girth (tack)
A girth, sometimes called a cinch , is a piece of equipment used to keep the saddle in place on a horse or other animal. It passes under the barrel of the equine, usually attached to the saddle on both sides by two or three leather straps called billets...

 far tighter than would a regular saddle, leading to discomfort in the animal and even possible breathing difficulties.

Correct posture is essential for balance and security in a sidesaddle and is specifically judged in sidesaddle classes. The rider sits squarely on the horse with the spine of the rider centered over the spine of the horse. The shoulders and hips are square to the horse, not twisted or turned off-center. The hands must be carried square to the horse, keeping both reins at the same length and tension.

Only one stirrup is used and it places the rider's heel higher on the horse's body than when riding astride. The left ankle is flexed and the heel of the left leg is kept down for proper balance, accurate contact with the horse, and correct placement in the stirrup. For modern riders, there are competing schools of thought as to the position of the right leg. Some argue that the right heel is also to be flexed down and the toe up, the same as when riding astride, while others argue that the toe of the right leg should be pointed down. Advocates for each toe position both argue that the position is required to maintain correct balance and make effective use of the leg muscles. In either case, when needed, the rider can squeeze her right (top) leg downwards and against the upper pommel, and her left (bottom) leg upwards into the leaping head to create an extremely strong grip. It is tiring for both the rider and the horse to maintain this emergency hold, however, and most riders rely upon good position, balance, and coordination to maintain their seat.

The spur and the whip are employed as supportive riding aids
Riding aids
Riding aids are the cues a rider gives to a horse to communicate what they want the animal to do. Riding aids are broken into the natural aids and the artificial aids.-Natural aids:...

, in addition to weight and seat, used in a humane manner for cueing, not punishment. The English rider's whip
Whip
A whip is a tool traditionally used by humans to exert control over animals or other people, through pain compliance or fear of pain, although in some activities whips can be used without use of pain, such as an additional pressure aid in dressage...

 is carried on the off (right) side, and is used in place of the rider's right leg to cue the horse on the off side. The sidesaddle whip is between two and four feet long, depending on style of equipment and competition rules, when applicable. Western riders generally use the romal
Romal
A Romal , is a type of long quirt attached to the end of a set of closed reins that are connected to the bridle of a horse. It is not to be used to strike a horse, but rather was a tool used to assist in moving cattle....

(a type of long quirt
Quirt
A quirt is a forked type of stock whip which usually has two falls at the end . Sometimes called a riding quirt, horse quirt, or a dog quirt.The falls on a quirt are made of leather, buffalo, or cow hide...

 attached to the end of a set of closed reins) to support cues in place of the right leg. If the rider wears a spur
Spur
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding. It is usually used to refine the riding aids and to back up the natural aids . The spur is used in every equestrian discipline...

 to assist the use of her leg, she will wear only one, on the left boot.

Riders hold the rein
Rein
Reins are items of horse tack, used to direct a horse or other animal used for riding or driving. Reins can be made of leather, nylon, metal, or other materials, and attach to a bridle via either its bit or its noseband.-Use for riding:...

s evenly, not allowing one rein to be longer than the other. Most sidesaddle designs also force the rider to carry her hands a bit higher and farther from the horse's mouth than in a regular saddle. Because high hands on a direct pressure bit
Bit (horse)
A bit is a type of horse tack used in equestrian activities, usually made of metal or a synthetic material, and is placed in the mouth of a horse or other equid and assists a rider in communicating with the animal. It rests on the bars of the mouth in an interdental region where there are no teeth...

 such as the snaffle bit may encourage the horse to carry its head too high, use of bits with curb bit
Curb bit
A curb bit is a type of bit used for riding horses that uses lever action. It includes the pelham bit and the Weymouth curb along with the traditional "curb bit" used mainly by Western riders....

 pressure, such as a pelham bit
Pelham bit
A pelham bit is a type of bit used when riding a horse. It has elements of both a curb bit and a snaffle bit. In this respect a pelham bit functions similar to a double bridle, and like a double bridle it normally has "double" reins: a set of curb reins and a set of snaffle reins. Because it has...

 or a double bridle
Double bridle
A double bridle, also called a full bridle or Weymouth bridle, is a bridle that has two bits and four reins . One bit is the bradoon , is a modified snaffle bit that is smaller in diameter and has smaller bit rings than a traditional snaffle, and it is adjusted so that it sits above and behind the...

, which help the horse lower its head to a proper position, are often seen in sidesaddle competition.

The horse used in sidesaddle riding will have additional training to accustom it to the placement of the rider and the use of the whip to replace off side leg commands. The horse also may need to adapt to a different and higher hand position. However, most well-trained horses adapt to the basics fairly quickly and generally can be used for riding both sidesaddle and astride.

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