Sunday, April 3, 2016

Women's 19th C. Riding Etiquette

"Good form" demands that it shall be simple and entirely without ornament. The habit itself most be quite dark, or even black, perfectly plain in the waist, with black buttons up to the neck...
Women in Saddles

The Etiquette of Horseback Riding Explained

Dress Regulations — The Proper Method for Mounting

There are numerous ladies in Sacramento who engage in the very healthful pastime of horseback riding, and they will be interested in some suggestions contained in a new volume upon "Horsemanship for Women," written by Theodore H. Mead and published by Harper Brothers. The etiquette of equestrianism will especially interest those familiar with the horse, and these, the writer says, are based pretty much on common sense, and no courageous, kind-hearted and sensible female need be much afraid of committing a fatal solecism. 

The few prescribed and arbitrary forms are easy to remember and are these: First as to dress. "Good form" demands that it shall be simple and entirely without ornament. The habit itself most be quite dark, or even black, perfectly plain in the waist, with black buttons up to the neck, and with a scant, short skirt only just long enough to cover the feet. The cuffs and collars must be of plain linen, no color or flutter of ribbon being anywhere permissible. The handkerchief must not be thrust in the breast, but kept in the saddle pocket, and if a veil is worn it must be short and black. 

The hair should be put up securely so that it will not shake down. If there is a pretense of dressing, the regulation silk "cylinder" hat should be worn, which, by-the-by, looks better rather low in the crown. No petticoats should be worn, but merino drawers and easy trousers of the same material fastened over the instep with straps. Corsets should be worn loose. Easy gloves and shoes are suggested, and as to the relative merits of crop and whip, the individual is left to her choice. 

"A lady's mount," says Mr. Mead, "must be immaculate from ear to hoof, in coat and mane and entire equipment." It is in a great degree their exquisite neatness that gives such an air of style, not only to English horsewomen, but to English turnouts of all kinds, which, nevertheless, have not usually the "spick and span new" look of fashionable American equipages. On coming out, therefore, prepared for a ride, take time to look your horse over swiftly, but keenly, noting first that his eye amd general appearance indicate good health and spirits; secondly, that he has been thoroughly groomed, his mane freed from dandruff; his hoofs washed, hut not blacked; thirdly, that the saddle and bridle are perfectly clean and properly put on. 

Every buckle should have been undone and cleansed, the leather suppled, and the bright metal polished; the girth, three in number — never fewer than two— should be snug, but not tight enough to impede free breathing; and bits in their proper place, that is to say, the snaffle just high enough up not to wrinkle the corners of the month, and the curb considerably lower, with its chain, which should pass below the snaffle, laying flat and mooth against the skin in the chin groove; finally, the throat latch loose. 

In mounting, ease and grace count for much. Mr. Mead's directions for a successful and satisfactory accomplishment of this feat are here given: When the horse is brought to the door, he says, let the groom stand directly in front of him,holding the bridle, not by the rein, but with both hands by each cheek, just above the bit. Stand a moment and look your animal over, give your orders quietly and pat his neck for a moment, speaking pleasantly so that he may get accustomed to your voice. 

Now, standing a few inches from the saddle, facing the same way as the horse, and with your left shoulder slightly thrown back, place the right band on the second pommel, holding in it the whip, and the reins drawn just tight enough to give a feeling of the bit. Your attendant will stand facing you, and as close as convenient, and will now stoop forward, with hands clasped and with his right forearm firmly supported on his left thigh. Now, with your left hand lift your riding skirt in front, and place your left foot in his hands. Let go the skirt, rest your left hand on his shoulder, and, giving him the cue by bending the right knee, spring up erect on the left foot, and seating yourself sideways on the saddle, place the right knee over the horn. 

If your attendant is unused to rendering such service, you had better make your first essays in some secluded place, in which you can instruct him where to stand, just how high to lift your foot, and caution him to put forth strength enough to support you steadily without lifting too violently. Do not be deterred by awkwardness on his part or on your own from learning to mount from the ground, for the more awkward the better practice for you.

Your attendant will now lift your skirt above the knee, so that it will hang properly without dragging, and then disengage the stirrup from beneath the skirt, will place your left foot in it. Too much care can not be taken with the position in the saddle. The left leg should invariably hang perpendicularly from the knee, with the heel depressed, and with the foot parallel with the horse's side. The length of the stirrup strap should be such that the knee thus is out of contact with the hunting-horn, but near enough to be brought firmly up against it by raising the heel. The right knee should rest easily but snugly over the pommel, so as to grap it in case the horse springs. 

Neither foot should be allowed to sway about nor project so as to be seen awkwardly poking out of the skirt. If your clothing does not feel quite comfortable, rise in your stirrup and shake it down, resting your hand, if necessary, on your attendant's shoulder, for it will be very awkward should it become disarranged on the road. Now put your handkerchief in the saddle pocket, take the reins in the left hand, or in both hands, as you prefer, and start the horse with a touch of the heel. It is very bad form to start him with a cut of the whip. If it is necessary at this time to turn about, make your horse step around with his hind legs, so as to avoid turning your back and presenting the horse's haunches toward any one with whom you may be talking. —Sacramento Daily Union, 1888



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