Wednesday, April 15, 2009

1811 Riding Habit

Jane Austin era.

1 comment:

sunvalleysally said...

Julie, the historic costumes bring up a focus on the difficulty of riding on slippery fabric. In one illustration there is a sort of garter but it is intended as a modesty strap (to keep skirts from flying around too much) not as anything to make the rider more comfortable or safe. In that era many ladies rode with a groom who often led the horse and the riding apparel was more a fashion statement than anything else. The safety issue was compounded by the fact that until much later than the era illustrated, there were no "leaping pommels" on the saddles, only the old style "crutch" pommels through which your upper leg fit - no idea how they got that to work if wearing one of the "garters" shown in the one picture.

These days, when sidesaddle riders want to go the historic route and still ride safely, they make sure that either they wear an apron made to look like a full skirt or at least make sure the skirt can open at the hem to release the closed loop of fabric in case of a fall - where a firmly sewn closed skirt could cause the rider to hang up on her pommels.

Modern saddleseat riding aside would call for some careful planning on the outfit. While going with a coordinating daycoat and apron is attractive and workmanlike (and affordable), the truly elegant saddleseat sidesaddle outfits whether formal or informal are custom crafted with suit-quality fabrics which matche (right down to the dye lot) with the skirt hem weighted to hang properly at arena-suitable gaits, and all of it designed in proportion to the dimensions of the horse/rider team. Just as in all the astride classes, if you are patronizing the custom habit makers you are presenting the most elegant, finished picture to a highly respected judge.

The lure of historical costuming is what brings many riders to sidesaddle in the first place but it brings with it many challenges for riders who often must ride or compete at more challenging speeds than the simple. respectable groom-attended slow hack on London's Rotten Row to showcase the latest Paris hat!