Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sidesaddles and Suffragettes




In my living room sits a lovely black antique sidesaddle with ornate tooling on the leather, a Fall colored tapestry seat and a heart shaped metal stirrup. I absolutely adore it, it is like a piece of art to me, but with a real history. I often wonder about the lady who rode it, the horse who wore it, and what their lives were like.
I've been doing some research lately for a book I plan to put to paper and came across some articles on Suffragettes and sidesaddles. I had never really put the two together like that before, but it doesn't take much reading to see how they are entwined. One article states " And while it is common knowledge that the Suffragettes achieved the right to vote in 1920, what has gone undetected is that these brave women rode into the voting booth as second-class citizens on a sidesaddle, then galloped out astride."
Sidesaddles were conceived as a political and social tool of oppression to women and this is why the Suffragettes rode astride, and why they caused such a stir. Back then women could be arrested for indecent exposure for wearing a split skirt or pants. All that was indecent was the implication that women were less than men.
One of the cowgirls I collect images of, is Alberta Claire, who was a well know Suffragette. She is know as the "Girl From Wyoming." Inez Milholland was another who dared to ride astride and fight for womens rights. You can read about them, Catherine the Great, Evelyn Cameron and more of these brave women on the internet if you wish to learn about them.
Now, I wonder even further who rode in that saddle and what she thought about it.


Photo from my collection

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