The first time Julie Size saw a woman horseback riding on a sidesaddle, it made a lasting impression on her as a child. The sight of the sheer beauty and elegance of the woman riding sidesaddle on a horse ignited a passion in Julie’s heart that became a part of her everyday life.
I saw Julie ride in the North Texas American Saddlebred Horse Association show at the Las Colinas Equestrian Center in October of 2011. Julie was the lone English sidesaddle rider to compete in a pleasure class.
Julie combines her love of history, horses, and her indelible childhood memory to form a passion for all things English sidesaddle. She writes a blog named Riding Aside where she shares her experience and research to educate women horse lovers around the world about riding sidesaddle. It’s followed by hundreds of women who share the same interest, especially in Europe where sidesaddle horseback riding enjoys a renewed popularity.
The earliest sidesaddles date back to 14th Century Europe for women of nobility. The sidesaddle evolved into a more practical design featuring two pommels to better support the horseback rider. Today, Queen Elizabeth rides English sidesaddle for the annual Trooping the Colour. The modern sidesaddle rider may be seen in many equestrian disciplines including: English pleasure, Western pleasure, dressage, jumping, and eventing.
Julie is always on the lookout for anything that pertains to sidesaddle horseback riding. She has acquired clothing, period art, and vintage tack.
She describes the 1901 vintage sidesaddle that she had restored and her reproduction riding habit.
The earliest depictions of women riding with their legs on the side of a horse appear on Greek vases.
After meeting Julie, I was overjoyed to look at several objects in my home in a whole different light. We found a pair of figurines of women riding sidesaddle in New Orleans’ French Quarter more than twenty years ago.
I love history and horses. Who knows? Maybe someday Julie will give me a sidesaddle horseback ridiing lesson. Julie rides under the tutelage of Sandy Currier at Bluebonnet Farm in Bellville, Texas.
You can learn more about the North Texas Saddlebred Horse Association by clicking here.