Posted by Anita/Sidesaddle (having a blast in her newfound hangout) on May 05, 1998 at 01:23:05:
In response to I understand, written by MaureenJ on May 04, 1998 at 02:17:15
] that many accidents occurred and women were often maimed or killed riding sidesaddle.
In most cases riding aside is safer than riding a regular English or Western saddle. While one could have a harder time bailing out of a sidesaddle, falling off is usually when the injuries occur. The only other time that it would be more dangerous is when you are riding in a hunt going over fences and water hazards. If your horse takes a bad spill and falls forward (which usually happens instantaneously) the horns could do some serious damage when ya'll hit the ground. That's why the one time I was riding aside and the horse slid in the mud, the saddle tipped to the right (the borrowed girth had elastic tabs which is a no-no for sidesaddles for just this reason), I felt him going down and just opened up my legs and went off the right side, back first like a scuba diver and rolled when I hit the ground. The breakaway stirrup worked just like it was supposed to and when I sat up, the stirrup and leather were just inches from my foot. If it hadn't been a breakaway assembly on that stirrup, I would have been drug and seriously injured (although Abu is a good horse and would have just stood still right next to me as he did until I got up). The tapering down of the horns from the cowhorn style to the "modern" style, the breakaway assembly and the balance strap are all safety related developments that refined the design of the sidesaddles. The attire was also becoming more and more tailored and the safety apron became the standard (I talked about this in a previous post).
There probably were women who died while riding sidesaddles, but there were also many men who died while riding astride. Most of the time they were freak accidents like what happened to Christopher Reeve. I don't think it was due to the fact that they were riding a sidesaddle, but the fact that they were participating in a potentially dangerous sport.
]I can only imagine what it would do to my spine.
I know it is hard to believe, but it doesn't hurt. You sit square in the saddle, facing forward. It's like sitting on the left edge of your bed, facing the head, with your left foot on the floor and your right leg bent up on the bed (almost like when you put your right foot on your left knee). If your saddle fits you properly, you will sit square in the saddle and there should be no twist in your spine. Sometimes we try to overcompensate for the sense of awkwardness the first time in the saddle - I know I did.
]I was a fairly good rider, but sidesaddles would scare me.
Don't be scared - it won't hurt you :) Fortunately for me, I learned to ride sidesaddle before I learned to be scared of trying new things. You want a real challenge? There is a lady who made a planchette - a medieval style saddle like a chair and was the precurser to the sidesaddle - where you actually do sit sideways on the horse and have a footrest. It was for a medieval reenactment and she rides all gaits and has to be able to carry a weapon - one of which is an 8 foot lance! I am curious, but not sure if I am ready to try this for myself. I'm not chicken, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not!
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.