Sidesaddle at the Olympics

I promise I’ll write about something other than sidesaddle soon, but I couldn’t resist these two snippets:

1) The brilliant Italian écuyère Elvira Guerra competed sidesaddle in the “hacks and hunters combined event” (photo of her here) at the 1900 Paris Olympics – a non-Olympic event, to be sure, but it wasn’t until 1952 that women were allowed to ride at the Games proper, and then only in dressage, when Lis Hartel of Denmark took an individual silver at Helsinki. Hartel was also the first paralympic rider. At the time she was paralysed below the knees – the last remnant of a severe polio attack she’d suffered eight years earlier at the age of 23, when, to cap it all, she was pregnant. She also took silver at the next games. Read about Lis and the foundation in her name at this link, and see photos of her at Simply Marvellous.

2) During my sidesaddle lesson, my teacher, Sarah Walker, explained that each sidesaddle was made to fit an individual rider and horse, and that the name and measurements of both were usually written on the saddle tree. Blogger Sidesaddle Girl investigated her own late-nineteenth century saddle and discovered not only where it was made, but also a portrait of its owner, a glamorous socialite. Read all about it here.

3) And via Sidesaddle Girl, here’s a young woman trying eventing aside: