//Sidesaddle riding: A way of riding from antiquity
Monta a la amazona

Sidesaddle riding: A way of riding from antiquity

Horse riding has multiple disciplines of riding. So today women can participate in the vast majority of equestrian events. Although in ancient times women rode horses in ancient times, they only did it in a very particular way that is what is known today as the Sidesaddle riding.

Women have always been characterized by being subtle and elegant. They maintain the proper way of riding and having an elegant dress.

Nowadays it is uncommon to see women riding horses in this way. The riding of the Amazon is still maintained as a tradition in some countries.

Throughout this installment we will address what is related to the topic: Sidesaddle riding.


The correct position is key in the sidesaddle riding.

The proper position to carry out this discipline of riding is that the female rider is balanced. For this, the amazon is located a little further behind the horse’s point of gravity.

In this way, the shoulders and hips will be straight, the head high and facing forward.

The right leg will tend parallel to the horse’s shoulder. On the other hand, there should be a gap of two fingers between the left knee and the lower cornet.

The stirrup will be shorter than the one used by a rider when riding in the normal way, that is, straddling. It should be noted that the length of the stirrup will depend on the custom of the horsewoman.

Hands go above or on each side of the knee, modifying the height of these according to the comfort of the magic pair: female rider and horse. The reins are usually a little longer than usual.

The whip will go just behind the waistband on the right side, as this replaces the horsewoman’s leg.

A very common mistake in sidesaddle riding is leaning slightly to the left. This can be corrected by throwing the right shoulder back.

Position for side saddle riding
Position for side saddle riding

Sidesaddle riding is the amazon rider style or so called in Spanish “monta a la amazona”.

In Spanish the female riders or horsewomen are called “amazonas”, or amazons in English, in reference to the mythological characters. This was a group of female warriors who were just as skilled in fighting and war as men.

The Amazons formed a society closed to men and went out to look for men only to reproduce. When they gave birth, if they had a girl, they raised her in this closed society as an Amazon. When they gave birth to a child, he was handed over to his father and they disengaged.

Given their ability to ride a horse, an indispensable skill for combat in ancient times, women who ride horses are called Amazons in some latitudes. In Spanish the sidesaddle riding is called “monta a la amazona” in Spanish, which would be translated as Amazon rider style.

However, unlike the Amazons, the Amazon-style riding retains femininity in her style. The Amazons were strong women, and they had a riding style equal to that of men. That is why this name is not used in English and it is chosen to use the term “sidesaddle riding”, whose equivalent would be “rides sideways in the saddle”, which better describes the position used by the female rider.


Appropriate clothing for this discipline

Usually for the different equestrian disciplines we can see that women wear the same uniform as gentlemen. Although these models adapt to the female form showing a stylized figure.

In the case of the clothing used for sidesaddle riding is different. So depending on the event you are competing in, you can wear the traditional suit of long skirt and jacket. In addition, period costumes, western costume, short suit or rondeña (costume worn in a type of Spanish flamenco dance) among others are also used.

Now, the usual costume is made up of a dark skirt usually black. It should be noted that tweed suits allow the brown color that covers the right boot. Likewise, the jacket of the same color, white or striped shirt with tie, riding helmet and veil for morning exhibitions.

In the case of the event takes place at the end of the afternoon, it must be taken into account that the helmet with veil will be changed for top hat and veil.

Consejos para vestir de amazona


A relevant accessory: The frame in this discipline

Considering the anatomy of the horse and the discipline to practice, the appropriate choice of saddle must be made.

In the case of the sidesaddle riding one of the best known is the two-pommel design. This mount provides several benefits:

  • Improvement in the comfort of the amazon.
  • Increases horse comfort.
  • Improved safety for both participants.

Usually, the manufacturers that make amazon frames are in Spain and England.

Among the brands that usually stand out in England are the following:

  • Mayhew.
  • Champion & Wilton.
  • Martin & Martin.
  • Owen.

In the case of Spain, the most distinguished manufacturer is Zaldi.

One point to consider is the age of the horse. From the age of five you can start using for sidesaddle riding. The reason for this measure is that the horse’s back is fully developed.

Saddle for side saddle riding by Zaldi
Saddle for side saddle riding by Zaldi

Sidesaddle riding: A discipline that emerged in the nineteenth century

It was in the mid-nineteenth century that the particularities of the modern Amazons were traced.

As society has advanced, women have more room in various areas.

With the emergence of the entertainment market as the modern circus, it gave rise to this development. Public recognition of a difficult discipline like high school began.

The high school was created in a masculine universe reserved for the elites. Little by little women have been conquering these spaces. This is how women joined the equestrian practice maintaining their feminine and elegant image.

At present, in countries like Spain this practice is carried out that we will know below.

Sidesaddle riding in Spain

From the National Association of Amazons of Spain (Asociación Nacional de Amazonas de España so named ANADE) they conceive the skill of riding in an amazon chair as a way of life.

On the other hand, there is also the AEMA (“Asociación Española de la monta a la Amazona” en español). This asociation is the “Spanish Association of Sidesaddle Riding” that is responsible for preserving this style of riding.

In this way, they see it as a passion that unites the country through the rich tradition of Spain.

This is seen in the different disciplines and equestrian techniques that exist throughout the country.

That is why, in the National Association of Amazons of Spain all horsewomen, so called amazons, are welcome.

This Association is active in training and has many courses related to the equestrian world.

AEMA Poster
AEMA Poster

Sidesaddle riding, the forerunner of women in the equestrian world

As society progresses, we can see that the participation of women in the various disciplines of riding is increasing.

The rider Lis Hartel is a sample of the inclusion and importance of women in horseback riding since 1950.

However, it was the women who carried out the sidesaddle riding who paved this way.

Although this discipline is not so common, there are clubs in some countries in Europe.

Gustavo Mirabal, admires the role of women in the world of horse riding throughout contemporary history.

Finally, sidesaddle riding remains a discipline that mixes the subtle of the feminine and the singular touch of the horse.