Social Success: Horse Riding Hints for Victorian Ladies

Before we proceed to the subject of horse riding, there is an important matter of vulgarity which must be urgently addressed. And while this matter has nothing to do with the business of actually riding a horse, it is nevertheless of the utmost importance. It cannot be overlooked. So, although this is perhaps not the perfect place to confront it, it is hardly an improper one.

One hears – with regret – of ladies and gentlemen announcing that they are going for a ride in a carriage. This turn of phrase is most incorrect and displays a severe want of good-breeding. Ladies and gentlemen ride upon their horses and drive in their carriages.[1] There should be no confusion between these two points.

That being said, we can now move on to the main business of this particular article. That business being, of course, how a lady might appear to her utmost advantage whilst riding. The question of how she ought to attire herself is no small one. Safety is a matter of some significance. Ladies do not generally show themselves in their best light by making foolish and reckless decisions. Therefore, it must be stressed that a commitment fashion should not cloud their judgement when they select their riding habit. A riding habit that is too long is extremely dangerous indeed.[2] As well as this, a lady with a thorough understanding of style and taste will avoid being overly or gaudily dressed.[3] This is a point of good breeding which a lady should apply to all the various components of her wardrobe. In the particular case of a riding habit, this garment is normally a very plain one and is often made up in a woollen fabric of black or dark green.[4] Good leather gloves ought to be worn as well.[5]

Naturally, a lady must be able to mount a horse with absolute propriety, elegance and decorum. She should ideally be aided in this process by a gentleman.[6] [7] The lady in question should take up the folds of her skirt in her left hand and place her right hand on the pommel.[8] [9] She should be facing the horse’s head.[10] [11] The gentleman should stoop and offer the lady his right hand, positioning it horizontally to the ground.[12] [13] The lady should place her left foot upon his hand and, as the gentleman lifts said foot, the lady should spring herself up into the saddle.[14] [15]

The manner in which a lady rides must also be considered. She should sit confidently and firmly. She should never hold the reins in both hands, or lean over the horse’s neck.[16] To do either of these things would be very wrong. Her elbows should be held close to the body, but this should be done with the appearance of ease.[17] Awkward, stiff and jerky movements are hardly the thing to aim for.

A lady should only ride in the correct company. She should never ride out on her own, unless she is in a very quiet part of the country.[18] However, a groom alone is not a sufficient companion.[19] It is a great mistake for a lady to ride with only a groom for a companion, and many scandalous affairs and elopements could have been avoided if this most improper practice had not been employed.[20] A lady should be attended be another gentleman, as well as a groom.[21] Ideally, this gentleman should be neither young nor single.[22]

At the conclusion of her ride, a lady should be able to dismount her horse with equal grace as when she sprung upon him. She should hold the reins in her right hand and make sure that her feet and clothes are free.[23] There are various modes by which she might then dismount her horse. She could leap – with delicacy and decorum – to the ground.[24] She might also call upon the assistance of a gentleman, who should catch her.[25]

Bibliography

Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, (London: Frederick, Warne and Co., 1876[?]).

Anon., The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, (London: James Hogg and Sons, 1859[?]).

Beeton, S. O., Family Etiquette: A Complete Guide to Conversation, Parties, Travel, and the Toilette with Hints on Domestic Affairs, (London: Ward, Lock and Tyler, 1876[?]).

Footnotes

[1] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, (London: Frederick, Warne and Co., 1876[?]), pp. 55-56.

[2] Ibid., p. 56.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Beeton, S. O., Family Etiquette: A Complete Guide to Conversation, Parties, Travel, and the Toilette with Hints on Domestic Affairs, (London: Ward, Lock and Tyler, 1876[?]), p. 71.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, p. 56.

[7] Beeton, Family Etiquette, p. 71.

[8] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, p. 56.

[9] Anon., The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, (London: James Hogg and Sons, 1859[?]), p. 196.

[10] Anon., The Habits of Good Society, p. 196.

[11] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, p. 56.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Anon., The Habits of Good Society, p. 197.

[14] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, p. 56.

[15] Anon., The Habits of Good Society, p. 197.

[16] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, p. 56.

[17] Beeton, Family Etiquette, p. 72.

[18] Anon., The Habits of Good Society, p. 196.

[19] Anon., Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, p. 56.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Anon., The Habits of Good Society, p. 196.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Beeton, Family Etiquette, p. 72.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

Advertisements

One Reply to “Social Success: Horse Riding Hints for Victorian Ladies”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s