Friday, February 4, 2011

Vintage Side Saddle Sizing

Page from
Park Riding
with Some Comments on the Art of Horsemanship
by J. Rimmel Dunbar
circa 1859

I love the Google books function which shows complete scans of books out of Copyright. I search for "Side Saddle" or "Ladies Riding". Sometimes I only get a page or two of interest but it's well worth it. This measurement makes you wonder where he was measuring from! Or perhaps the proportions of ladies have changed over the past 150 years? According to that chart, I would need about a 20" seat. My Martin & Martin is 22.5" and it is none to big. OMG! Is my butt really that big?!?


  1. Hmm, strange. At first when I read this I thought he might have been using UK side saddle sizing as the book was published in London, where you measure from cutback to cantle which would kind of explain (I say "kind of" very loosely), the small seat sizing. BUT in UK sizing, all my saddles have always measuresd 17" or 17 1/2" which at 5'9", I find comfy.

    Looking at it now, maybe he was measuring thigh length but being a Victorian gentleman, he would have only really been able to measure his wife's legs without being arrested, LOL!

    I know I've got stumpy thighs for someone of my height (they only measure 20 1/2") so according to the chart, I'm pretty much correct in the saddle seat size I ride in now (they tend to be 21" length saddles).

    Maybe the lady (his wife??) he measured had stumpy thighs like me and he just worked out the chart using her proportions as it wouldn't have been proper for him to start measuring a whole bunch of strange women's legs to get a more accurate picture! LOL!

  2. After sixteen years and two wives, wild horses couldn't make me comment on...well, really this post. However, having coached Melissa through a saddle purchase a couple of years ago, I feel comfortable saying this much. If this side saddle experience is going to be at all pleasurable and repeatable, do whatever you have to do and spend whatever you have to spend to make your saddle fit RIGHT.