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First Time Sidesaddle - What To Expect?

So, in a week’s time I’ll be making a dream come true by riding sidesaddle for the first time! I’m a dressage rider, and I’m wondering what to expect. The horse I’ll be using is an elderly 15.2h Morgan stallion who is just a DOLL. I’m wondering, will it be easy to feel balanced? I have cerebral palsy and balance is sometimes an issue. I’ve heard often people feel MORE secure aside though. Is that true? Also, will it be painful for me to sit in that position? I have tight hips and my mum and I are wondering if I’ll have trouble getting and keeping my leg over the fixed head…

Any help or shared experiences sidesaddle would be great!

You will feel insecure mounting and cantering. Do not tip toward your legs, stay straight. You will also feel awkward holding the reins. You will probably have fun.

When I was in my late teens I rode and showed sidesaddle locally. I think you will find your left leg very secure because it is wedged in under the leaping horn. If you can clamp with your right leg over the leaping horn then you will be fine.

The balance is the same as astride- shoulders forward, back straight and really I don’t think your hips will be sideways, only your legs. If the stallion has been ridden sidesaddle a lot he will help keep you in place. Ideally he carries his neck more upright which feels better underneath you than a long, low necked Quarter horse type.

Good luck, have fun and report back!

I really felt comfortable sidesaddle and would love to take side saddle lessons some day!! I only tried it a little, but I felt quite secure and comfier than astride at the sitting trot.

I was disappointed by my side saddle clinic- not their fault, tho. I have tight hips as well, and I found that the position of my right hip was very uncomfortable. Try bending your hip to 90 degrees, then rotating your knee out. My hip just doesn’t do that any more! Still, I’m glad I tried. My mare was wonderful despite no precious aside experience. I found I could REALLY feel my seat bones, and could use them much better than astride. Go and have fun. It may be great or it may be painful, but you won’t know til you try!

Make sure you are warm and stretched before you mount. It helped me a lot. Any simple stretches that concentrate on your hips and thighs.

Do not try to lean right if you feel unbalanced. It only makes it worse.


Have fun!

You’re going to have a GREAT time if your saddle fits both you and your horse well. If it doesn’t, you both will be uncomfortable in direct proportion to the degree of fitting problem.

Assuming all’s well, you’ll probably take to it like a duck to water and want to ride that way nearly all the time! That’s how it was for me when I started with Betty Skelton. It is KEY to have a competent trainer to teach you not only how to be safe, but how to pull off the traditionally elegant look which is the entire point.

You are also going to awaken muscle groups you never knew you had . . . :winkgrin: