This film is part of Free

Eileen and her show horse

Eileen and her show horse take to the ring as sidesaddle falls out of favour

Amateur film 1930 3 mins Silent

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This is bespectacled Eileen happily riding her horse in a field at her home, at a meet and in competition accompanied by a male companion. Horse-riding is not the male preserve but riding astride, unless you were Joan of Arc, is considered improper for most women until the 1930s when jumping competitions become a popular sport. Women over 30 gain the right to vote in 1918 followed by women over 21 and with that new freedoms emerge.

Eileen doesn’t buy into the idea of riding sidesaddle. The downfall of the custom for women to ride sidesaddle is dramatic. Social change brought equestrian equality, this is why Eileen has a certain freedom about her rather like her female aviator contemporaries. Jodhpurs too are an important fashion statement from Northern India. By the time National Velvet (1944) came about starring Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown in jodhpurs dreaming of winning the Grand National steeplechase while riding astride, children who could remember the change from sidesaddle to legs astraddle were adults and the film was a sensation and in the Oscar nominations.