Side Saddle Riding

Sheila and I rode a demonstration for Wildwoods on the 24th September, 2016.

Sheila and Caroline

Sheila dances Flamenco and seemed to take to sidesaddle with perfection. She has ridden side saddle in Stockport at a public event.  This is the two of us together on Saturday, hoping the wind would not carry off my skirt, as it is not made for side saddle. In fact the dress was made for me when I was 16. It still fits. We had a lovely day and the horses behaved beautifully for us. We have had time to train them to the aids which consist of a whip to the right and the lightest of heel to ask for trot and canter. Also you cannot haul on the reins, there is nothing which would allow you to do that. So the horse must be better schooled, and in fact I noticed with Ranger, he throughly enjoyed my sessions with him, really I I did very little in the way of asking him, he just seemed to enjoy it.

I rode side saddle many years ago and have started again in an attempt to spend more time really studying the art. I now have two saddles one is a 1980 side saddle and the other which I use for teaching is a Mayhew. The other one is really a museum exhibit and will one day be on display along with all my other equestrian artifacts.

Adjusting seat
The seat

What I have noticed is that when you set a student the task of sitting straight while not being straight it challenges the entire body.  Shoulders can drop the body loves to twist in compensation, the legs ache differently, as it is the right leg which is working hardest. But deportment once achieved, and the rider is sitting as if a pin were under the left buttock, then symmetry can be achieved. what side saddle really does is it teaches you to ride.

Your horse cannot be pulled or pushed, you only have one heel and a whip which must be used very carefully. You cannot grab the reins and use them as handlebars, because you are sitting upright. It also forces the student to develop a seat. A proper seat, one in which it looks as if one was sipping tea at a polite party. The horse must be properly trained to respond to the slightest of aids and thereby hangs the story of riding.

on lunge left hand circle

The left hand circles are the hardest as you have to make sure you are not drawn to leaning. left hip to right shoulder, is a by word, as the student struggles to remain central. the horse also should have good natural smooth paces and a long trot. Thoroughbreds are the best to ride, they are long striding and comfortable, well most of them.

I have found riding sidesaddle challenges both professional teachers of riding and those who have still to develop a seat and helps them both to understand the horse. A well trained horse and an elegant rider is the epitome of elegance.