A place for women

While horse riding was a predominantly male practice until the mid-20th century, at present women seem to have largely caught up, as over 70% of practitioners are female.Indeed, the use of horses as a means of transport always favoured women's access to horse riding, especially in the highest social strata. However, riding has long been primarily for military or sports (hunting and races) purposes, and has therefore remained predominantly male.

Over 70% of practitioners are female.

In the 19th century, a new use of the animal arose. The elite began to see the horse not only as a tool for work, but also as a recreational companion. Since then, women from a certain social milieu had to know how to ride. Horseback riding was, along with dance, the only sport allowed for young women at that time. All the while, though, the figure of the " horseman " established itself, confining riding in a male sphere, although female riders still managed to make a living with their passion. These are the female circus riders, the artists and semi-urbanites populating circuses and entertainment venues who became the faces of a comfortable, well-born social class. Students of the great masters ( François Baucher), these sidesaddlers, Amazon-like riders became the stars of the round circuits. However, they were but an exception in the equestrian world. It must be noted that riding astride and wearing trousers were forbidden to women until 1930. Long dresses and the sidesaddle position were, in fact, less than practical. However, with the gradual transition of horse riding from the military to the civil sphere, the feminisation of equestrian sports has continued to grow since 1970. In addition to the socio-economic explanations for this numerical superiority (around two-thirds of the women in question do not undertake a regular professional activity, particularly as students, for instance), the unique relationship forged between female riders and their horses has never ceased to interest men, ranging from psychiatrists to writers.

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