Ladies on Horseback during the Victorian Era

Ladies Horseback: Horse riding, also known as equestrianism, or even horseback riding, is a famous adventure sport that refers to riding vaulting or horses. The term is a rather broad description and could even include the use of horses for practical purposes like transportation, cultural and even recreational activities.

Horses have been trained for thousands of years for this particular purpose. They had even been used in combat other than recreational activities. Even in the present day, horses are used in many forms of competitive sports like racing, polo, and others.

Horseback Riding by Ladies

Horseback riding had been as appealing to young ladies as it is in the present. It is true that it had been much more of a challenge in those days. As can be expected, women did not quite take to ‘astride’ riding, where each of the legs is on either side of the horse.

Ladies on Horseback during the Victorian Era
Victorian horse racing: Derby

Thus, it was a technical disadvantage for the lady riders as it was quite tough for them to maintain their inertia and stability. Though astride riding is practiced by women nowadays, the ladies in the Victorian Era had to maintain certain customs in societies, and ‘astride’ riding would have been looked upon as undignified.

Ladies on Horseback During the Victorian Era

Although there are some who say that ‘aside’ riding or sidesaddle is a safer mode of riding, it can be easily figured that the rider would definitely find it awfully difficult to maintain their stability. ‘Aside’ riding undertaken by the ladies in the Victorian era was no easy feat. However, it is very elegant and charming. A lady taking up this form of riding must have a great deal of motivation and have a lot of skills.

Lifestyle Choice

The most bothering aspect was that affording a horse is a very difficult job. It would require way more than moderate means to have such a stylish habit embedded in the lifestyle. The horse had also to be trained especially to carry a lady and was often described as the lady’s horse or a pony.

Also, the maintenance of the horse is not enough. A lady could not ride a horse in everyday clothing. Thus the dress went through a lot of modifications before they could be used by women for the sake of riding.

Horses in the Victorian Era

Also, this was another reason why ladies of those days could not attempt ‘astride’ riding. It is virtually impossible to ride a horse in petticoat. The skirt used to be full of length and flowing during the 1830s to the 1870s.

Ladies on Horseback during the Victorian Era

This was a hazard to both the horse and the rider during the riding. There were various accounts when the dress would get caught in tree limbs and bushes or even the horses’ legs, leading to nasty accidents, sometimes proving fatal. The magazines in those days did a lot in the promotion of this fashion among the ladies.

Riding Style

With the progress of the century, the style of the habit advanced as well. The skirt ceased to be full and poses much less threat to the overall riding. The habit got tailored more and more and gave rise to the modern habit of ‘side saddle’.

Even the clothes that the ladies wore during riding changed over the years. Portraits show ladies in skirts and tailored bodice, hinting the fact that horse riding had much of an impact during this phase.

The ladies had to wear chamois or soft leather breeches under her skirts. Petticoats started to lose popularity among the ladies who seriously practiced horse riding in those days.

Ladies Horseback During the Victorian Era

This is because it would have been very difficult, if not virtually impossible to get the leg over the pommel horn in petticoats. The saddle often had a ‘leaping horn’ or another pommel projecting over the leg in the stirrup iron to provide an extra security feature.

Ladies on Horseback during the Victorian Era

The skirts also got slimmer with the ages. Horse riding in the nearby park often gave women the chance to socialize, to see and to be seen, if not just a part of a healthy exercise.

Overall, the sight of a woman on horseback was surely a spectacular sight. This culture had not been very much popular before this age and surely many women who could afford the lifestyle took to it.

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