Arts & Culture
Equestrians Through the Ages
The Sidesaddle exhibit at Virginia’s National Sporting Library & Museum illustrates women’s profound influence on horseback riding
The leaping horn was an invention nearly as revolutionary as the saddle itself. Created in the 1830s, the innovation provided women a firm seat as they rode with a sidesaddle, enabling them to safely participate in pursuits such as foxhunting while wearing the long skirts expected at the time. That’s why Sidesaddle, 1690–1935 (through March 24), a retrospective at Middleburg’s National Sporting Library & Museum, is broken into two categories: pre– and post–leaping horn. “These were highly skilled, athletic women who rode and hunted, and because of cultural norms, for a long time they did it all in skirts,” says Claudia Pfeiffer, the exhibit’s cocurator. The museum is displaying nearly sixty oil paintings, sculptures, and watercolors that illustrate the progression of women in the equestrian world.