Thursday, February 18, 2016

Riding Aside

The sidesaddle in Clara's time had only one pommel, which the rider hooked her right leg around. This picture has the skirt pulled up to reveal how this worked. The lower pommel around the left thigh was added later.

When I was little girl we visited Blackberry Hill Farm in North Grafton, MA, where my father, his brothers, and my grandfather and his siblings grew up. I remember looking around in the barn and finding a very strange-looking saddle, which I learned was a side saddle. I recently asked my 93 year old uncle about this, and he said two of his aunts, born in the late 1800s, used to ride on that sidesaddle. I was nervous enough when riding horseback on a normal saddle and remember being glad I didn't have to ride "aside!"

Here's how Clara feels about riding sidesaddle:

        Father spoke up. “No ‘buts,’ my girl, you heard your mama. She knows how young ladies must behave. If she says you must ride sidesaddle from now on, that is what you must do.”
     "Sidesaddle? But that is so silly!” I protested. “I cannot hold on properly with only one knee around the horse. It is like riding half a horse!”
      Father leaned over and patted my hand. “Nevertheless, daughter, you must use Priscilla’s sidesaddle whenever you ride Feather."
                                    -A Buss from Lafayette, Copyright 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

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