View Full Version : Side Saddle Vs. Riding Astride

02-04-2019, 01:47 AM

So my new MS takes place in 1917. My MC is a wealthy Southern belle used to riding side saddle until she has to ride astride for a suffragette parade (she's dressed up as Joan of Arc).

Anyways, I've never ridden side saddle, and I was wondering if someone could explain to me the sensation of it. What it's like going from one to the other? My character has never ridden astride so I would think she's very uncomfortable in this new position. I've only ever ridden astride, and side saddle looks absolutely terrifying to me. I feel like the rider would have less control. Is that true? Of course, my MC is probably feeling the exactly opposite.

I would like some insider knowledge of what it's like in the side saddle, especially compared to riding astride.

Thank you.

AW Admin
02-04-2019, 01:58 AM
Are you sure that she would have been riding side saddle? It would have been old fashioned then.




You might be able to find a local riding barn with an antique side saddle you can try; I've occasionally seen them. They are quite specialized.

02-04-2019, 02:02 AM
Like you, I've never ridden side-saddle (unless you count youthful hijinks that involved wrapping a knee around the saddle horn of a western saddle and concluding it was impossible). I knew a guy who tried one out once (he curated an equestrian museum) and said he ended up on his butt in the dirt. I believe horses have to be trained to respond appropriately to the cues of a side-saddle rider.

I'm guessing she would be sore and uncomfortable riding astride for the first time, as different muscles would be used and the balance would be different.

I found this article on side saddles, but I don't think it answers your question about what it's like to go from sidesaddle to astride.


However, some argued, even in the 1800s, that women would much prefer riding astride once they tried it. I get the impression that riding sidesaddle is more difficult overall. I know that women were generally given quieter mounts and on hunts they had the option of going through gates instead of over the fences and hedges (though some did jump). I don't know how much of this was simple sexist assumption that women were less capable overall and how much was because riding sidesaddle is indeed much more difficult. Annie Oakley did some amazing stunts from a sidesaddle.


I found this reference to a woman riding astride in a suffrage march in 1918, which I assume is what inspired the scene you describe in your story.


This is a fascinating question. I understand that sidesaddle riding still has fans. I too am interested in hearing from someone who has experience with it.

02-04-2019, 06:57 AM
See https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?255068-Ladies-riding-horses-astride-or-sidesaddle&highlight=saddle with threads to other discussions on the issue. I think you'll find a lot of your questions answered.

Jim Clark-Dawe

02-04-2019, 08:04 AM
By that era it was a double horn saddle like this -- https://www.pinterest.com/pin/516717757221064866/?lp=true
I have trouble imagining sitting like that for extended periods but women crossed continents and did high jumping on these things

02-06-2019, 02:32 AM
Thank you all for your input.

I think I'm still going to have her ride side saddle as her family is very conservative. I feel like 1917 was sort of right on the cusp of when women started going more towards riding astride. I just want to make sure I capture the feeling of what a woman going through that change would feel. Her Joan of Arc costume certainly doesn't help matters.