At no time are the beauties of the female form divine displayed with such witching grace, the faultless flowing lines so attractively posed, the tout ensemble so thoroughly patrician. But if there be one blot in the fair picture, the charm at once vanishes.
- E. Kerr, Riding for Ladies, 1895
The Horseback Ride, And The Rules That Govern It
A gentleman who may act as escort for a lady when riding should be very careful that the horse selected for her is entirely reliable and gentle. If he has no horse of his own, and she has none to which she is accustomed, he must understand that there is considerable danger in allowing her to use a horse that has not been tried, no matter what may be the representations of the liverymen or servant.
A trustworthy horse having been secured for the lady, it is the gentleman's duty before mounting to give a very thorough examination of the saddle and bridle, to see that all are secure. It will not do to leave this matter to the stable-men. They are accustomed to such continuous handling of harness that they become careless, and are liable to overlook defects in buckles, girths, etc., that might cause a severe accident.
When all is in readiness, it is the gentleman's province to assist the lady in mounting. To do this, it is well to have some one hold the horse, otherwise he holds the bridle with his left hand. The lady, then, with her skirt in her left hand, will take hold of the pommel of the saddle with her right, her face turned towards the horse's head. The gentleman will stand at the horse's shoulder, facing the lady, and stoop, allowing her to place her left foot in his right hand. She will then spring, while he lifts her gently and steadily into her seat, following which he will place her left foot in the stirrup and arrange her riding habit After the lady is in position, the gentleman will still remain with her until she has whip and reins properly in hand and is securely in her seat, then he will mount his horse and take his place upon her right.
Should there be two ladies on horseback, the gentleman should ride to the right of both of them, unless they may need his assistance, in which case he will ride between them.
In dismounting, the gentleman should take the lady's left hand in his right remove the stirrup and take her foot in his left hand, lowering her gently to the ground.
There is a delightful feeling when you are well mounted, that those who are casting admiring glances at your horse, will find your dress and "get-up" just as perfect in their way. - Mrs. Alice Hayes, The Horsewoman, 1893
Horseback Riding was only available to the wealthy. Because they were the only ones that had enough money to own or rent and maintain a horse. Others that weren't so wealthy had to make financial sacrifices to enjoy the fun that comes out of horseback riding. Female riders needed gloves, boots, and equestrinne tights to fill the costume recommendations.
THE VICTORIAN SIDESADDLE RIDING HABIT was a paradoxical garment. It was a fashionable anti-fashion statement, masculine and feminine, practical yet alluring. While on horseback, the fair equestrian shunned the lace, frills, and furbelows worn by her pedestrian sisters. Even when the bell-like silhouette produced by the crinoline skirt was at its greatest width, the essence of the horsewoman's garb was a lean, understated, and almost masculine simplicity. She represented the epitome of cultivated elegance and cut a fine figure in her tailored habit and silk top hat. Clad in her severe attire, the horsewoman became a center of visual attention in Victorian England. Though she graced fewer pages than the traditional fashion plate, she put her stamp on paintings, photographs, and caricatures. Preceded by showy, colorful riding costumes and superseded by breeches, caught between the demands of Victorian femininity and rising feminism, the riding habit and the women who wore it were typical of and unique to their era. The modern horsewoman represents a turning point in the history of female dress. She adopted the first sports costume specifically designed for women and opened the way for the invention of other athletic garments like the bicycling suit. The riding habit's combination of style and practicality launched the fashion for more gender-neutral, utilitarian garments and heralded the advent of the twentieth-century working woman's uniform: the tailored suit.
The tall and slender elegance of equestriennes such as Empress Elizabeth of Austria, who was sewn into her riding costume every morning she hunted, saw fashions changing again to the slimline darker-coloured habits of the 1880s with their high-buttoned bodices and jacket tails and trousers rather than petticoats, and thence to the 1890s with longer jackets and 'leg of mutton' sleeves.
Back To Pastimes and Sports
Site Map [Cross-Browser]
Website Designed for Internet Explorer ~ 1024x768 Screen Resolution