A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 Riding side saddle v riding astride

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
LadyinRetirement
Censura
LadyinRetirement

Posts : 2275
Join date : 2013-09-16
Location : North-West Midlands, England

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptyThu 28 Nov 2019, 17:38

I had asked a question on the miscellaneous thread about when women ceased riding side-saddle.  MM informed me that there were ladies who rode astride in medieval and possibly earlier times.  MM did give me a good answer but suggested maybe I give the subject its own thread.

This is what I said on the other thread "


Now I have a question for - well anyone who can answer it really.  I wasn't sure if this perhaps should go in the 'seats' thread but wasn't quite certain so am putting it here.  I saw an extract from a film Frenchman's Creek (based on a Daphne du Maurier book).  The story was set in the time of Charles II of England.  I thought at that time ladies still rode side-saddle but Tara Fitzgerald (playing the main female part) was shown riding astride a horse with a very long, loose skirt on.  There was a well-known fantasy series (finished earlier this year) which was (loosely) based on medieval history where women were shown riding astride horses also.  Does anybody know when women ceased to ride side-saddle?  I'm not thinking of women who may have disguised themselves as men (for safety when travelling or whatever reason).
 
and MM's reply was:- "

"
Surely your question, LiR, should actually be: when and why, if indeed ever, did women cease to ride astride, in favour of riding side-saddle, no? 

I'm not so sure about practices pre-medieval ... but Eleanor of Aquitane, Elizabeth I of England, Diane of Poitiers, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Marie-Antoinette of France, all happily rode astride their mounts - and sometimes even had official portraits painted in that pose - while admittedly, at other times, they considered it more 'appropriate' to be seen riding 'side-saddle'. Even HM Liz Windsor, at least until fairly recently, usually rode astride - unless it was for formal ceremonial occasions, such as Trooping the Colour, when it was traditional that she too ride side-saddle.

This could be a very interesting thread ... so why have you put in the equivalent of the 'blue rubbish bag thread'? ie in the equivalent of, "I don't know what to do with it: its not utter rubbish but not immediately recyclable ... oh sod it, I'll just dump it on the street and let someone else sort it out!" 

I could add things to my above comments about saddles and riding - such as it wasn't historically only women that rode side-saddle, and what about 'celtic' stirrup-less saddles - but why bother when the conversation is inevitably, as a function of the thread title, just going to get lost amongst people's witterings about other things? 

LiR, why not open this as a new topic? It could be interesting, no?

"
Back to top Go down
Dirk Marinus
Consulatus
Dirk Marinus

Posts : 221
Join date : 2016-02-03

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptyThu 28 Nov 2019, 20:40

Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
Caro

Posts : 1266
Join date : 2012-01-09

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptyFri 29 Nov 2019, 04:52

I know she is just (Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey had very strident views on 'Just a novel') a novelist but in Georgette Heyer's books set in Georgian times the women generally rode side-saddle. It's a while since I read any, but some of the more feisty heroines may have ridden astride, but I don't think even they did. And GH was renowned for her very thorough research.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
Meles meles

Posts : 3900
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptyFri 29 Nov 2019, 12:06

It is said (although that phrase in itself is often a clue to take the following 'reported' comment with a good pinch of salt) that it was Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II, who is credited with introducing the fashion for women to ride sidesaddle. As 'The Sporting Magazine' vol. 18 (April 1801) puts it, she managed "in 1382 ... to abolish, even in defiance of France, the safe, commodious, and natural mode of riding hitherto practised by the women of England, and to introduce the sidesaddle.”

I assume that until then women had usually ridden horses astride ("the natural mode of riding hitherto practised") when mounted alone, or were seated on a cushion and facing sideways when riding pillion behind the principal rider’s saddle. Anne apparently introduced the earliest specifically-designed sidesaddle in England, which was chair-like with the woman sitting sideways on the horse with her feet on a small foot-rest. I doubt one could ride very fast and to look forward you had to have the head turned right round to face over one shoulder, but this is essentially how many people - often in fact males - ride on plodding donkeys to this day:

Riding side saddle v riding astride Boy-riding-a-donkey

And so Anne's special saddle would appear to have simply evolved from this practice of sitting sideways or by being perched behind another rider.

Riding side saddle v riding astride Treches-riches-heures
A woman riding pillion sat sideways behind her man - a detail from 'August' of the 'Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry' (c.1415).

At about exactly the same time as Anne of Bohemia's supposed innovation, Chaucer described several lady riders in 'The Canterbury Tales'. Of the 'Wife of Bath' he said,
 
Upon an amblere esily she sat,
Y-wympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
As brood as is a bokeler or a targe,
A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large,
And on hir feet a peyre of spores sharpe.

‘Upon an amblere esily she sat' (she sits comfortably on an ambling horse) and has 'a peyre of spores sharpe' (a pair, ie two, of sharp spurs), and so she must have been riding with her legs astride her mount. Contemporary illustrators picked up on that cue:

Riding side saddle v riding astride Wife-of-Bath-ms   

The prioress, however, wears the long habit of the Benedictine order covered with a voluminous riding cloak, which would have allowed her to demurely ride astride her horse if she had chosen so to do. Chaucer describes her as: intoning the divine service 'ful semely' (politely); 'Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly' (she speaks fluent and elegant French); she has impeccable manners, 'At mete wel ytaught was she with alle, She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle' (at meals she was well taught; she let no morsel fall from her lips); 'And peyned hire to countrefete cheere, Of court, and to been estatlich of manere (and she took pains to imitate the manners of the court and to be dignified in behavior). Although Chaucer does not explicitly say so, she is usually depicted as riding sidesaddle on her fashionably groomed horse. Note the apparent positions of her feet, knees and torso - she is not perched as one would on a modern sidesaddle, with the knees bent and the torso facing forward, but is simply sat sideways on the horse's back, so she is probably sitting on something like Anne of Bohemia's saddle/chair.

Riding side saddle v riding astride Prioress-Ellesmere-Chaucer

But when did something resembling a modern sidesaddle appear? 

Elizabeth I rode from an early age and was an accomplished horsewoman her entire life. She frequently hunted deer - requiring a fast mounted pursuit - and even when in her sixties she regularly rode 10 miles or so, rather than take a carriage. After her ascession she appointed her favourite, Robert Dudley, as 'Master of the Horse' with specific orders to import faster, stronger horses. This was as much to improve English cavalry stock as for her own personal use but she clearly took a keen interest in horses and riding. Contemporary paintings seem to show her riding something akin to a modern sidesaddle with the knees raised and the torso turned to face forward, and indeed with a well-designed sidesaddle she could have chased deer and vaulted fences as well as any Edwardian lady hunting with the hounds. But contemporary Elizabethan illustrations also show her apparently hunting in full court dress! So I do wonder, especially considering Elizabeth's sometimes masculine 'kingly' demeanor, whether she didn't very often ride astride her horse, at least when at leisure amongst trusted nobles.

Riding side saddle v riding astride Queen-elizabeth-16th-english-master
Contemporary equestrian portraits of Elizabeth I are not common, but this one, albeit in rather poor condition, depicts her in coronation robes and was painted, or copied, not that long after the event. It clearly shows her riding with the right knee raised and probably supported by an off-centre pommel on a saddle specifically designed to be ridden sidesaddle. But of course all the interesting details are well hidden under the swathes of fabric.

Fashion; the drive to keep women in their place behind their man; that women should never be seen to be able to act like men; and for them to be swathed up chastly with not so much as an ankle, let alone the knees or thighs, being visible -  are probably what principally drove the move towards sidesaddle riding, at least for ladies of quality. However it was also thought that riding astride a horse might endanger a woman's health and in particular her ability to have children. As a newly-wed Marie-Antoinette, after learning to ride in order to accompany her husband on the hunt, abandoned the long flowing skirts of a sidesaddle rider and adopted slim breeches as part of her equestrienne attire. Women of the time did sometimes wear breeches for riding but they were typically covered with petticoats and skirts to ensure the legs remained demurely hidden from view. However there was also the concern about the effect of riding astride a horse on her ability to conceive (and the couple did not produce any children until seven years into their marriage, although admittedly she had been married at just fourteen years of age). Marie-Antoinette's mother, the Empress Maria Theresa, begged her to give up the habit of riding astride a horse, writing:

"Riding spoils the complexion, and in the end your waistline will suffer from it and begin to show more noticeably. Furthermore, if you are riding like a man, dressed as a man, as I suspect you are, I have to tell you that I find it dangerous as well as bad for bearing children - and that is what you have been called upon to do; that will be the measure of your success."

Riding side saddle v riding astride Marie-Antoinette-on-horseback
'Marie-Antoinette on Horseback' by Louise-Auguste Brun (1781-82).

Marie-Antoinette did finally comply with her mother's wishes and gave up riding astride, at least publically, when she became queen.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 30 Nov 2019, 19:50; edited 2 times in total
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Censura
LadyinRetirement

Posts : 2275
Join date : 2013-09-16
Location : North-West Midlands, England

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptySat 30 Nov 2019, 03:30

I've woken in "the wee small hours" and can't get back to sleep so did some sleuthing on the internet.  An article about trousers mentions that ancient ceramics show horse riders of both genders wearing trousers ("Persian, Eastern and Central Asian").  I imagine the women there worn the trousers to ride astride.  https://kingandallen.co.uk/journal/2016/a-brief-history-of-trousers/    Trousers for both men and women seems a sensible choice for nomads who rode on horseback.  I came across an academic article by Adrienne Mayor https://www.academia.edu/8737411/Who_Invented_Trousers   So it does seem there were women riding astride in some parts of the world many, many years ago.  Adrienne Mayor's article was (to me) interesting.  I tried to cut and paste an extract but no luck so I'll mention that in Ms Mayor's article reference is made to Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi (who participated in the 1857 Indian Rebellion against the British) after being widowed brought the front of her trousers through her legs and tucked them into a belt to form a baggy pants style for riding into battle.  It doesn't specifically say the rani rode astride but if not why bother folding the sari thus.*

* I believe the sari is sometimes worn thus for dancing.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Censura
LadyinRetirement

Posts : 2275
Join date : 2013-09-16
Location : North-West Midlands, England

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptySat 30 Nov 2019, 03:57

I've tended to window shop (or should that be surf the internet without buying shop?) where Folkwear patterns are concerned though I do have a blouse based on one of their patterns. They sell a pattern based on early 20th century attire which allows for buttoning either as a skirt or as pants.  https://www.folkwear.com/products/231-big-sky-riding-skirt?variant=35454965646  The pattern according to Folkwear derived from a garment "worn by legendary rancher and rodeo rider, Fannie Sperry Steele".
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
Meles meles

Posts : 3900
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptyYesterday at 22:12

To my mind, riding sidesaddle has many of the problems of riding without stirrups, ie how do you stay on, and how do you control the horse. I suppose then it's not really surprising that a modern sidesaddle has two pommels at the front and in many ways resembles the ancient four-horned Roman or 'celtic' saddle (which were of course used before stirrups were invented).

Riding side saddle v riding astride Sidesaddle
A modern sidesaddle.

Riding side saddle v riding astride Damensattel
An older style sidesaddle.

Riding side saddle v riding astride Roman-saddle
A reconstruction of a Roman cavalry saddle ... I assume there would have been some sort of girth strap too, no?

I rather wish I knew a bit more about horses and riding.
Back to top Go down
Green George
Consulatus
Green George

Posts : 244
Join date : 2018-10-19

Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride EmptyToday at 00:18

It was not uncommon for a ploughman to ride one of his team to and from the field, without a riding saddle and without stirrups. Almost invariably this was done "sidesaddle".
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty
PostSubject: Re: Riding side saddle v riding astride   Riding side saddle v riding astride Empty

Back to top Go down
 

Riding side saddle v riding astride

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The pub ... :: The Tumbleweed Suite-