Did you know that there are multiple ways to ride a horse and different kinds of saddles to support these different ways to ride? One of the most famous and most difficult ways to ride a horse is called sidesaddle riding. It comes with an exciting and rich history that every horse lover needs to know about.
Sidesaddle and the way we ride horses continues to evolve in and out of history books, to film, to being back on the filed. For some, it's coming back into popularity outside of period movies and TV shows and back into horse races and shows. But what is riding sidesaddle and what is its history? Sidesaddle riding is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of straddling the horse while riding, you posterior flat with either leg on either side of the horse, you sit sideways on the horse with both legs hanging off of the same side of the horse when riding. Many think this type of riding was just a tradition followed by women of historic royalty and high birth in the last few hundred years, but it goes way beyond that! Some historians date it back to the 6th century where the god of blacksmiths, Hephestus, has been pictured riding sidesaddle himself.
This type of riding became common for women to use because riding with your legs on one side of the horse allowed women to keep their knees together at all times, which was considered to be more modest, which was important even while riding. Even though it is is much harder to ride this way, it was culturally accepted as the only way a woman could ride a horse for centuries. In the beginning, it was only men who rode horses and women were just their passengers. Women would ride behind their male counterparts, sitting on an attached cushion or blanket, being as modest as possible and keeping both of their legs together. This was also due to the fashion at the time, women wore heavy layers of skirts, and it was impossible to ride astride and maintain their modesty while doing so.
Some say women started riding sidesaddle as early as 1382, and some say it was even earlier. In 1382, Princess Ann rode sidesaddle to marry King Richard II. This style of riding was considered the only way to properly preserve a woman's virginity, so from there on out it was the only way for a woman to ride. Ironically it wasn't until the middle ages that the idea and concept for a specially made saddle for this proper type of riding was even considered. This new saddle would offer support, comfort, and allow them to control and guide their horse better than ever before, and be able to ride without a man.
As the years went on, many saddles were created and invented to help a woman ride more comfortably, but in 1830 with the addition of an additional pummel, the tables turned for women riders. This provided the most security and freedom in their movements than ever before, allowing them to freely gallop, ride for longer periods, and even jump if they wished. They could now hunt, race, and keep up with their male counterparts while still being in control of their modesty. But what about the lower social classes? Of course, they rode out of necessity, but as a form of physical activity and fun and appropriate behavior, it was only acceptable for women of the wealthiest class to ride until as late as the 1850's. It took almost until the 1880's for a specific riding outfit to be designed and considered for a woman to ride in. Up until that point, a woman was wearing her normal day wear, which if too long, could prove to be very dangerous for the rider. This fashion quickly changed and by the early 20th century women could wear pants to ride. With this change in fashion and with the rise of the Suffergets side saddle riding slowly began to decrease in popularity. By the time the 1930's arrived, women were finally riding like their male counterparts after almost 550 years.
Today, thanks to the rise in popularity of British TV shows like Downton Abby, the return of sidesaddle riding has come. These vintage lovers are riding again in competition, races, horse shows, and for fun. They are not only bringing back the style of riding, but they are also bringing back the classic period style of dressing along with it too. Some men throughout history did ride sidesaddle, even though it was considered a woman's sport. If they had lost a leg or had other injuries, riding sidesaddle was easier for them. Riding sidesaddle was used when riding camels, zebras, mules, ostriches, and other exotic animals. Of course, some women refused to ride this way. They claimed that they were still very much proper women regardless of riding astride, Catherine The Great being one of these ladies. Also, if they were going to be riding long distances, sidesaddle was deemed impossible.
The next time you are looking for the best horseback riding in Charleston and you find our beautiful paths and stables, will you want to ask about riding sidesaddle? Would you be brave enough to try it? It will give you a whole new perspective on riding, and we guarantee that it will provide quite the adventure. Come see us soon, we can't wait to ride with you!
Horse racing has been one of the most popular equestrian sports throughout all of history. It has echoed throughout centuries, cultures, and the world. There is a reason horse racing has become and remained so popular: it celebrates the strength, power, and beauty of these amazing animals and excites the rider and those who love the sport. But who knew that there were so many different types of racing?
We are getting so excited about these warmer temperatures that keep popping through the rainy cool days here in the Lowcountry. There isn't anything wrong with a brisk trail ride, and there is something to be said about a ride in a drizzle. But these sunnier and warmer days are getting us so excited for our southeastern springs because that means more trail rides and perfect days for trail rides! While we've been waiting for these perfect days, we have been doing our research and continuing our little educational tour on the history and types of equestrian sport. Our most recent tour lead us back to horse racing, and we were just floored by how many different types of racing we found and how much they differ from one another. While you wait for your next ride on our beautiful horseback riding trails, we hope you enjoy this little walk through equestrian sport history!
We have learned through our research of horseback riding that the number of equestrian sports and the many ways you can play them is immense. It's such an exciting sport, and it continues to grow and be nurtured all over the world. In our past few blogs, we've shared some of the more unique equestrian sports and games, and for this blog, we wanted to take more of a classic approach.
There is so much to horse racing and equestrian sport that we could talk about it for blogs and blogs. We have so enjoyed sharing this information with you, and hope it sparks joy in your life. We hope it has inspired you to come to join us for a trail ride on the best horseback riding trails in South Carolina. Come visit us soon, we have a saddle with your name on it!
We are going to take a break from the subjects our last few blogs focused on, and visit one of the most unique and interesting traditions celebrated by horse lovers and traditional English hunters alike here in the Southeast!
Traditions are a beautiful thing and something we are all very proud of here in the Southeast. We have some of the oldest and most special traditions to be found. Being horse people, we, of course, love to celebrate traditions that include our favorite beautiful animals. In this blog, we will be celebrating and discussing The Blessing Of the Hounds, the opening meeting of the Moore County Hounds, which is the oldest Fox Hunting Clubs in North Carolina.
Every year on Thanksgiving Morning, excited riders, onlookers, horses, and hounds gather in Buchanan Field in Southern Pines, North Carolina. For many families, it has become a tradition that starts their Thanksgiving holiday. The tradition has been going on for more than 100 years and has continued to grow in numbers as the years have passed. Members of the Moore County Hounds appear and come dressed in formal hunters attire, atop their beautiful horses. Formal hunters attire is the classic and signature red hunting jackets called "Pinks", white riding pants, black leather riding boots, and hunt caps. The riders gather early in the morning, and before the hounds are released to follow the fox scent placed along the hunting trail (it is a mock fox hunt, no animals are hurt!), they all receive a blessing from the local Episcopal Priest while the hundreds of onlookers watch from the sidelines. The tradition and its blessing go way back to very early medieval times when hunters believed that Saint Hubert of Liege, the patron saint of hunters, would protect them and their hounds and keep them safe during the hunt.
As we mentioned above, this tradition is no longer just for the riders and the horses. It has expanded and has become a huge traditional gathering and tailgating event for hundreds of spectators that attend the event every year. Many families have been apart of it for generations. Every year, 150 riders and horses are a part of the hunt. The spectators start arriving before 8 AM to claim their perfect tailgating spot, to start cooking, and to pop the bubbly for their morning mimosas. To get the best tailgating spots today, you will have to pay a pretty penny to reserve it. The official blessing begins at 10 AM and right after the ceremony, about 60 hounds are released on the trail. The whole event takes about an hour or so and is full of excitement.
The equestrian community has always been strong in Moore County and Southern Pines, but it continues to be nurtured and flourishes and thrives with traditions like The Blessing of the Hounds. This celebration is proof of the immense support of the community and how loved it is by all. The club continues to care for the tradition, the riders, and animals alike. A tradition like this keeps the community close-knit and brings it together, even if it is just once a year.
The tradition of The Blessing of the Hounds made its way to Moore County thanks to author James Boyd. He started the Moore County Hounds after he fell in love with fox hunting while he was a student at Cambridge. The club was recognized and made official in 1920, and the blessing is the oldest hunt in North Carolina and one of the oldest in the country. The hounds that have been used in the hunt have been living at the foundation's farm since 1942. Their care and breeding have been one of their primary focuses. The blessing was held on its original land until 2015 and was then moved to Buchanan Field.
What a beautiful way to celebrate horses and bring a community together! We love sharing traditions like this and love learning about them too. Do you have a favorite tradition celebrating these majestic creatures and their incredible histories? Share them with us! Until next time, come ride horses with us on our beautiful trails. We can't wait to see you!
There are so many incredibly fun, highly skilled, and exciting sports and events that take place on horseback. Some of these fun sports have been going on for centuries and are apart of certain cultures and backgrounds, while others are no longer played. But in each of them, there is excitement, skill, and a sense of grandeur that is so fun to learn about.
Happy New Year, Lowcountry! We hope all of you had a wonderful holiday, and are so excited to kick 2020 into gear. The weather has been so warm these last few weeks, that we hope you start your new year off with a fun and exciting trail ride with us! For those of you who have visited us recently, have you been inspired by your visit that you've become a little curious about what else you can do on horseback beyond trail rides? You've come to the right place! This week's blog and in the next few blogs to follow, we are going to be talking about the many fun, challenging, and unique sports that can be played on horseback.
Each of these sports we will be discussing over the next few blogs will challenge you in more ways than one. They're fun to watch and exciting to learn. Some take years to master with multiple skills needed to succeed, while others aren't played anymore. If you're here with us in the Lowcountry or are from areas close (in NC, TN, KY), this is a great area to expand your knowledge and explore the world of equestrian sports!
In this blog, we will be discussing some of the more unique and interesting equestrian sports. Each has their own special traits, tactics, and skills needed to excel and do so safely. Some you can still see in competition today while others are just for show. Maybe you've heard or seen some of these sports before, and maybe you'll learn a thing or two today!
That's right! Forget about Medieval Times for a second, and think back to when this was not just the days of yore. When princes and kings ruled the lands and were fighting for the fair princesses' hand. In its heyday this wasn't a sport found at the Renaissance festival or at themed dinner shows, it was a way of life! Jousting was an actual mid-evil sport that was very popular and needed for the training of knights and soldiers. The way it works is that two opponents on horseback wield long poles called lances (that are 6-7 feet long!) with blunted tips on their ends. Dressed in full armor, they ride full speed at one another on a specially made course that is about 110-220 yards long separated by a fence right down the middle part of the field. There is a rider on either side of the fence. The goal of each ride is to knock your opponent off of their horse before you get knocked off. If the riders make it to the end of the course without either falling off, they turn around and start again until someone is eventually knocked off. The sport was originally created to train for battle and warfare, Soldiers would learn what it would feel like to get hit or clash with someone else while wearing a full suit of armor while going very fast. Even during its height, it was also a sport for fun during celebrations, not just for training. Today it is seen in historical reenactments, renaissance fairs, and the ever classic Medieval Times dinner show. It is considered to be an extinct sport and has been for over three centuries.
Cowboy Mounted Shooting
This sport is one of the newest equestrian sports out there, despite its name. It was created in the late 1990's and is a sport for those well versed in horseback riding and shooting. Also know as mounted shooting, this very disciplined sport involves shooting at still targets while riding a horse. As of 2015, the United States is the only place this sport is still played. Each course this sport is played on is specifically designed for each race, and balloons are used as the targets. The goal is to get through the course as quickly and perfectly as possible while shooting as many balloons as you can. Each rider is timed, and each target missed and part of the track not ridden correctly are points that are added to your time. The riders with the lowest time at the end of the race wins. Riders use old fashioned western style single-action revolvers to strike the balloons, and the guns are filled with blanks. Both men and women can play and compete in this sport.
Mounted Horseback Archery
To be efficient at this sport, you need to be well versed in two skills - riding and archery. You need to be able to do both at the same time to succeed. The skills used in this sport are used for mounted hunting around the world. Those to first use these techniques were European nomads during mid-evil times, and the most famous to use it were Japanese Samurai called Yabusame. The objective of the sport is for the rider to ride without reigns on a 90 m course while shooting arrows at different targets that are placed at different distances. This sport takes a different kind of skill than most normal horseback riding or equestrian sports. It is almost harder than riding bareback, as your hands will be used to work the bow and arrow. The guidance of the horse and actual skill of riding will be left to your legs and body. The sport continues to be very popular today, especially here in the United States. Many riding clubs offer classes and courses to learn, and there are competitions held across the country.
How excited are you to come to visit us now? One trail ride could lead to you becoming the next best show rider, a career in show business, or just learning how to show off some very exciting skills. We will see you next time for the next round of equestrian sports blogs. Until then, come visit us for a ride and have a happy new year!
Middleton Place Team