Used in a rudimentary form at the courts of Europe from the 14th century on, the sidesaddle underwent several modifications since then to make sure the rider has the best possible and safest position, which even allows jumping and hunting. Today, sidesaddles are still all custom-made, as this is a necessity regarding the length of seat (Photo A) and the position of the two horns on the left side (Photo B), which both must take the rider’s individual anatomy into account.
The seat of a sidesaddle is formed in a way that the rider will tilt onto the right seat bone to counteract the weight on the left caused by the rider’s legs and distribute her weight as equally as possible. The rider puts her right leg over the upper horn and her left thigh under the lower one to make sure she sits safely.
To keep the saddle reliably in its position on the horse’s back, a balance girth has been used since the beginning of the 19th century. It runs from the left front over the horse’s tummy to the end of the other side and applies pressure on the opposite ends of the saddle.
Different types of safety stirrups have been known even before the 20th century; additionally the whole suspension of the stirrup leather has a security system, which in case of a fall releases the leather and stirrup (Photo C).
While in the past female riders wore a skirt, the modern sidesaddle rider wears breeches, an apron over them and a traditional dressage tailcoat.