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.

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