Most of the saddles used today are holdovers from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Four manufacturers are desirable for a quality ride. These are Mayhew, Owen, Martin and Martin, and Champion and Wilton. New saddles are being produced but are quite pricey and are best left to the serious sidesaddle devotee.
Mayhew Sidesaddle and the stirrup fitting.
Owen Sidesaddle and fitting
Martin & Martin Sidesaddle
The spring flap allows for
adjusting the stirrup from the off side
Champion & Wilton sidesaddles
This sidesaddle is a Circle R
It has been built on a Steele tree that has
much wider horns that some ladies find are more comfortable
A "Lillian" sidesaddle
Made by Lillian Chaudrhay
This one clearly shows the "purse" found on some Western saddles
Some other saddles of interest:
A very unusual dual horned sidesaddle
Examples of rail saddles.
The one to the right has a leather "rail"
A synthetic - possibly a "Millineum"
A rebuilt Victorian era saddle
with the leaping horn added
Rather pricey new sidesaddle
Some safety features are considered a necessity:
A safety stirrup ... one that breaks away at the foot rest or one that the leather separates from the saddle in case of a fall.
A safety apron ... a skirt-like garment that has much less fabric than a regular skirt to get caught on the horns.
Some riders like to carry a sidesaddle cane to cue the horse on the right. A dressage whip (longer than a hunt crop) can also be used.
With the exception of roping events, sidesaddle riders enjoy nearly all types and styles of riding. There have been ladies riding aside in eventing, dressage, endurance, barrel racing, fox hunting, and most types of pleasure events at shows.
Sidesaddles are beginning to be used in handicapped riding programs. As was the case after the wars, especially WWI, riders who for any reason cannot ride aside, can enjoy their horses sidesaddle.
This page will give you some idea of what a sidesaddle looks like. If you are looking for a sidesaddle for yourself, it is extremely important to start with a good tree. As with most things, with sidesaddles, you certainly get what you pay for. If you are considering purchasing a sidesaddle with the hopes of a lifetime of sidesaddle riding, you should seriously consider purchasing a custom-made saddle -- something that is sure to fit both yourself and your horse. Please visit our links page for a listing of reputable custom sidesaddle makers.
BEWARE of buying a saddle online! Many of these saddles are of poor quality materials and construction. A badly fitting saddle will be uncomfortable for both you and your horse. There are sources for learning about fit and what to avoid on the NEA Sidesaddle Association website.