Beauty and Elegance, Riding Side-Saddle

August 01, 2016

Beauty and Elegance, Riding Side-Saddle

By Heather Swan

Millie Djordjevic riding Guinness side-saddleMillie Djordjevic riding Guinness side-saddleBeauty and Elegance, the lovely Millie Djordjevic professional "Whipper-in" to the Montreal Hunt, riding Guinness side-saddle at the Hunt Farm in Lachute, Quebec.

Beauty and Elegance, the lovely Millie Djordjevic professional "Whipper-in" to the Montreal Hunt, riding Guinness side-saddle at the Hunt Farm in Lachute, Quebec.

Milica Djordjevic has been riding her whole life, she dabbled in all sorts of equestrian disciplines but spent her younger years focused on dressage. She started foxhunting in her mid 20's as an alternative to showing, needless to say she was hooked! For Milica fox hunting encompasses everything she loves (horses, hounds, nature and of course adrenaline!). Her love for riding sidesaddle was a result of hunting along side wonderfully brave, talented and not to mention gorgeous women in Ireland. "I couldn't  get over how elegant and stoic they were. They are my absolute idols". Milica went on to say, "I was lucky to have a chance at purchasing a made sidesaddle horse which helped my riding immensely. Guinness and I are a team now and he's not going anywhere !” Guinness is well schooled, and well mannered.

For women, sitting aside on a horse dates back to antiquity. For the most part, men rode horses; women were merely passengers, sitting behind the men, either holding the man around the waist or sitting on a small padded seat. This was partly due to their long, heavy skirts; it was impractical to ride astride. In the 1900s the skirt became a more practical length and the apron came into being.

Milica is wearing a habit – a traditional styled cutaway jacket with matching apron. The apron is a large piece of material that looks like a skirt, but is actually open backed, and covers the legs. The two garments together create an elegance like no other in the elite world of side saddle - and the correct hat is important. This silk hat belonged to Anne McKibbin’s  grandmother’s, Louise Archibald,  Louise rode with the Montreal Hunt (MH) in the late 1800s. Anne commented that the silk hat "happens to be a very attractive style  and the correct height for fox hunting. The veil, I bought at Lock (hatter) in London.” Anne still has her Grandmother's hunt whip—that she treasures. 

Milica Djordjevic HeadshotMilica Djordjevic HeadshotThis silk hat belonged to Anne McKibbin’s grandmother’s, Louise Archibald, Louise rode with the Montreal Hunt (MH) in the late 1800s.

More about hats--visit Royal Hats blog--It is a fun and a frivolous space for fellow royal hat lovers to congregate.  

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Huntsman Andrew Marren of the Montreal Hunt riding Colby with his pack of hounds and "Whipper-in" Milica, riding Guinness side-saddle at the Hunt Farm in Lachute, Quebec. Milica's role and responsibility as Whipper-in is to keep the hounds in check during a hunt. Her main role is to assist the Huntsman during the hunt.

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Horses have been ridden side saddle for centuries, as the side saddle was, for a long time considered the only way for a lady to proceed 'properly' on horseback. Throughout art history, Aristocracy are portrayed in paintings in very elaborate dress in their finest form, but maybe not the most practical for riding. 

SS_QueenSS_Queen

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine the Great, of Russia reigning from 1762-1796 was portrayed in  an equestrian portrait as a young woman, riding sidesaddle.  "Equestrian portrait of the Grand Duchess Yekaterina Alexeyevna” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Wikipedia, "The earliest functional "sidesaddle" was credited to Anne of Bohemia (1366–1394).] It was a chair-like affair where the woman sat sideways on the horse with her feet on a small footrest. The design made it difficult for a woman to both stay on and use the reins to control the horse, so the animal was usually led by another rider, sitting astride."

In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici  developed a more practical side saddle design. Rather than keeping both feet placed side by side on the footrest, she placed her right leg over the pommel of the saddle. The footrest was replaced with a "slipper stirrup", a leather-covered Stirrup iron into which the rider's left foot was placed.  This saddle allowed the rider both to stay on and to control her own horse, at least at slower speeds. The 18th and 19th centuries showed riders' attire becoming more practical, as mentioned above, saddles were created with two pommels on the top of the saddle for the right thigh to sit between, as well as the leaping head, with a dipped seat. The stirrup fitting has a releasing mechanism to allow the whole iron and leather to part with the saddle easily in the event of a fall. Both the aprons and stirrup fittings have saved many ladies from severe or fatal injuries and make riding side saddle safer than it had been in centuries earlier. Contrary to popular belief, riding side saddle is safe. 

2016-10-25_00012016-10-25_0001 Milica is wearing a Modern English sidesaddle riding habit with her Hunting horse Guinness.

The last few years there has been a revival in the art of riding side-saddle amongst women riders.  Milica chooses to ride side-saddle for her own pleasure and for special occasions.

For more information, visit Montreal Hunt's public group on Facebook, or see their website, www.montrealhunt.org.

 
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