Keeping Traditions Alive: How to Ride Side Saddle

Traditionally, riding side-saddle was reserved for ladies of the highest social standings. Women were taught to ride side-saddle to remain ladylike and avoid showing their underclothes. Although some believe this style of riding has mostly died out, there is an uprising that is working to keep this tradition alive. If you have ever wondered how to ride side-saddle, allow this information to help you master this riding style with ease.

What Is Side-Saddle Riding?

Although it is mostly women who practice the riding style of side-saddle, some men take part as well. Side-saddle riding, as the name suggests, means riding a horse while sitting to the side.

Instead of straddling the horse, both legs remain on one side of the horse. Sidesaddle riding was depicted in ancient Greek artistry and was considered a social norm in Europe, where it was very unladylike for a woman to straddle a horse.

Today, this riding style is rising in popularity, due largely to side-saddle riding competitions that involve historic costumes and shows. Keeping this tradition alive is very important for history buffs and those that enjoy unique traditions.

Do You Need a Special Saddle for Riding Side-Saddle?

If a woman plans on riding side-saddle, she will need to have a special saddle to anchor her in place, or she will need to be led. This goes for men as well.

Some saddles are made specifically for aside riders. In the late 14th century, saddles were invented that were chair-like and did not function well for aside riders. Today, many advancements have occurred, allowing for two-pommel saddles that help riders to sit straight and remain anchored in safety.

How to Ride Side-Saddle

If you have never ridden side-saddle, the practice may seem a little intimidating. Riding a horse in a side-saddle style properly involves having the right saddle and knowing the correct positioning. The following offers information that should make side-saddle riding much easier.

  • First, you will need to make sure to ride a horse that has a smooth and even gait. The horse must be calm.
  • Your spine should be straight and aligned with the horse’s spine. If you cannot sit straight, you are in danger of falling or developing discomfort during a ride. Remember, if you compete, you are going to be judged by your posture.
  • Your right leg will wrap around the fixed pommel at the top of the saddle. This is the leg that will hold you securely in place on your ride.
  • Your left leg remains under the leaping horn, which is the down-curved pommel that can rotate slightly for your comfort.
  • With both knees supported fully, you will simply need to make sure your center of gravity is aligned over the horse’s spine.
  • Riding side-saddle is all about maintaining balance. Staying balanced and with the proper posture will help you avoid spills.

Riding side-saddle is not as difficult as one might think, and it is not only men that enjoy this riding practice. With this practice rising in popularity again, it is likely we will see continued shows and increased side saddles on the market.

Ride Side Saddle

Side-Saddle Does Not Limit You

Many people are surprised to learn you can do anything while riding side-saddle that you could do with astride riding. You can ride side-saddle while doing all the following.

  • Dressage
  • Jumping
  • Cutting
  • Barrel racing
  • Reining

Before jumping into any of the above, it is wise to take time to practice. Although side-saddle riding can seem intimidating, it is not difficult but does take practice to ensure a proper form.

How to Choose the Right Saddle for Side-Saddle

Having the right fit is extremely important. If your sidesaddle fits properly, riding will be a dream. If it is not the right fit, you are going to find a great deal of discomfort. Consider the following to know which saddle to choose.

  • Choose a saddle company that specializes in side-saddle. Some saddleries know nothing about creating sidesaddles, so beware and do your research.
  • Make sure to measure your horse and ensure the saddle fits your horse. A proper fit for your horse is most important. Their fit is essential for long rides.
  • Check the padding to make sure it is comfortable. Some inferior padding materials can shift and cause lumps that make riding side-saddle uncomfortable.


Now, you know how to ride side saddle and have learned some tips that will make the practice much easier. Although women monopolize this sport, men and even children take part in side-saddle riding events.

With side-saddling practice, you can master the art of this riding style and help to keep this Victorian-era tradition alive and well. Side-saddle riding is fun and relaxing and allows you to become one with your horse. With this practice, you can soon be participating in side-saddle competitions in your area.

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