Riding Aside - In Costume

Pirates Side Saddle
One of the things I wanted to do when riding side saddle was to compete in the classes dedicated to historical costume. After all, I love riding and I love dressing up! Searching through e-bay in early 2010 I found a costume which immediately caught my attention. It was green velvet and made in the military style of the King's Rifles - fans of the TV series Sharpe (and Bernard Cornwell's books) will instantly know what I mean.

The King's Rifles became well known during the Napoleonic wars. Muskets were the usual firearm, but the rifle had just been invented - it was, to put it mildly, in the right hands a lethal, accurate weapon (unlike the musket which was highly inaccurate)

Later, the Kings Rifles became the King's Royal Rifles Corps - The KRRC.  My grandad was in this regiment, so being a Sharpe fan, falling for that rich green velvet colour and my family connection - I had to get the costume.
It fitted well, although I had the jacket altered a bit snugger around the shoulders, to stop it bunching up. When I compete I also wear my Granddad's regimental badge - I think he would have been proud of me.
The costume is not historically accurate - but the classes I compete in are all about elegance, not accuracy. I describe it as "Imagine the wife of a King's Rifles' Officer tagging along with the army through Portugal. She would, perhaps, adopt the unique "Green Jackets" style, but adapt it for something more feminine and elegant."
I took the championship Concours d'elegance historical costume class at the Side Saddle Association National Show in 2014. A very proud moment!

Another costume is a Colonial mid 1700's gown. 
It is a Blue and White Vintage fabric, drop front, laced and boned cut to a pattern of circa 1760/80. The pattern is of stylized tulips and other flowers - perfect for the period of the American Colonies which were heavily influenced by Dutch design. The hat is of genuine Colonial style - and actually comes from Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia USA.
The Kerchief is a simple lawn style, with blue ribbon for lacing the "stomacher" (the front part of the gown)
The lace on the sleeves and for the hat is called needle or tatted lace and is of an open type lacework which gives a delicacy to compliment the gown, and is in character with the period. Lace, in the 1700's was a highly prized commodity and was one of the items often smuggled as contraband.
The gloves are genuine Victorian hand crotched lace. Although of a later period, the style did not change all that much, so they are perfectly in keeping. I find it exhilarating to actually be wearing something that was hand made well over 100 years ago!

Underneath I wear Victorian style ankle-length bloomers and a Victorian style white cotton petticoat. My boots are black leather lace-up riding boots.

The Royal International Horse Show

Another costume is a genuine late Victorian travel Habit circa 1889. It is a beautiful blue velvet with impressive 'leg-o-mutton' sleeves. I'm not sure, though, whether it is English or from Philadelphia in the United States of America. There are more photos of this costume on the side-bar >

And then there is my cream silk French Outfit....

Side saddle can also be fun 
- especially the Fancy Dress Class!

Click here for a (not very good)
Video Clip
of the show

Scroll down for my diary on learning 
to ride side saddle!
And browse the menu bar at the top!


  1. I also love riding and dressing up and I just adore your green velvet costume. I hope you don't mind I took the picture, sent it to my dressmaker and had her make some for me.

    I took a few liberties. Green is not a color I regularly wear (although on you it is absolutely stunning!) so I had one done in powder blue velvet and another in burgundy velvet. I also changed the jacket to have lapels and a high collar to complement my ascot, cravatte or bow tie.

    I ride only recreationally but I find it so much more exhilerating to be out on a trail in a beautiful dress than in jeans or leather.

    Have you ever had a mishap when you were riding in one of your lovely costumes?

  2. Our local slaughterman is a lovely man, quiet voiced, kind and gentle. He makes a fuss of the horses, gets them happy and relaxed - and they know nothing about that final moment. Quick, clean and straightforward.

  3. Helen, that's incredible. Although I try to avoid the term 'slaughterman,' I'm always very surprised to discover that they're horse lovers. In my head, it seems like a paradox but it makes sense when you really think about it.
    The girls at anythingequine.co.uk put me in touch with a lovely Yorkshire man who had the sad job once.

  4. 'Slaughterman' is a far nicer word than something like "knackerman" I think. Having an animal put down because it is in pain, ill - or to a point, dangerous - is better for the animal. What is the alternative? To leave it to suffer? Yes, the decision to take that final step is a hard one but it is the last, truly loving service we can give to our dear friends.
    All the horses we have lost during the past many years (including one who was in agony through a twisted gut) spent their last minutes with a friendly pat, kind words and complete ease. A bolt gun is quick and painless - the horse knows nothing about it (apart from maybe a split second) It is an instantaneous passing. I have to say, I have been with horses put down by the "injection" method. Never would I use that on one of my horses. never.


thank you for leaving a comment it will appear here shortly.