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Tips on Riding Side Saddle

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceThursday 10 June 2010
Side Saddle Riding

Riding side saddle has been an equestrian discipline enjoyed mainly by women that dates back to Ancient Greek times. Side saddles are very different from regular saddles that we are used to today, as they are designed for the rider to sit with both legs on one side of the horse, rather than either side.

Nowadays, the side saddle is not used nearly as much as it used to be as it became acceptable for women to ride like men did. However, riding side saddle can be a different way to have fun with your horse, and appears in certain shows.

Preparing for Riding Side Saddle

  • It is important to train your horse to be accustomed to a side saddle rider. You must consider that is both of your legs are on the same side of the horse only one can be used to issue commands.
  • Side saddle riders will need to carry a whip to compensate for this. The whip is not used for punishment but for cues.
  • You will need to make sure you buy the correct side saddle. Side saddles usually have an extra pommel which is placed sideways and is used to support the thigh. A side saddle also usually has a safety bar or stirrup which is designed to let go in case the rider falls off of the horse.
  • If you need to then you will need to adapt the reins for side saddle riding. Most reins are designed for riding astride the horse and not side saddle; you will find that side saddle reins are a bit longer.
  • You might also need to use a bit with curb pressure to keep the head of your horse at the correct angle.
  • If you wish to dress for riding side saddle then you will need an outfit similar to that you would have worn on a hunt.

Riding side saddle

  • The side saddle differs from other more common saddles as it has a second sideways pommel used for supporting the thigh. A safety stirrup or bar is also in place to protect the rider if they fall. It is extremely hard to find a brand new sidesaddle, so many people tend to buy theirs as antiques.
  • You will have to train your horse for riding side saddle as he will not be used to this form of riding. As the rider is positioned on one side, the horse must be able to take commands with only one of your legs. When using side saddles, many riders use a whip to cue to take the role that the other leg would usually take.
  • Your reins should be adapted appropriately for riding side saddle. Longer reins may be needed, as well as a bit with cub pressure to keep the horse’s head at the right angle.
  • Keep your posture right. Your hips and shoulders should be square on and your spine aligned with the horse’s spine. Your heels should be below the toes and both ankles flexed. The left heel must touch the side of the horse whilst in the stirrup, and the right heel stays down for balancing.
  • Be sure to hold on to the reins evenly when you use side saddles. You can cue the horse with your left leg and a whip.

Have your say
Let us know if you have any other tips or advice on riding your horse side saddle. If you do, then just leave your points in the comment section below this article at the bottom of the page. 

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