Side Saddle? Not For Women Easily Pushed Aside

For those who have ventured, executed, and excelled within the world of equestrianism, riding astride is well akin to riding “half assed” if you excuse my language.  Side Saddle: the saddle that possesses more than meets the eye. You are on the verge, the fringe, the farthest point of extreme; on an animal that is hurdling towards a 1 metre hedge with a ditch to greet you on the other-side. That is if you are lucky enough to be hunting.   It is the hardest way to ride a horse, the corset of saddles,  and yet women rather than be constrained,  have mastered the tack for centuries.

Side Saddle, to ride aside rather than astride, was introduced in 1382 to fashion a modest way for a woman to ride a horse. Anne of Bohemia {1}  historically attributed to the side-saddles’ inception created an apparatus that made it difficult for the woman to ride let alone control the horse. Catherine de’ Medici, improved the British Queen’s model, allowing for more comfort and independence for a woman to have control over her own steed rather than be led about. Isabelle Queen of Spain “without tiring, giving the impression of being in all places at the same time, Isabel rode her horse from one side of the kingdom to the other exhorting her people…she rode between 100 and 200 miles per day, crossing frozen mountain passes in order to convince some lukewarm nobleman to send her 500 soldiers.” [1]

Women for five centuries, rode either in cortège with delicacy, defeated the recalcitrant saddle- Elizabeth I known for her penchant of intense hunts or, spurned the rules all together (usual suspects included – Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette) and rode astride. It was Jules Pellier who in 1830 created the second pommel, the greatest addition to the side-saddle, it gave woman a leg up (pardon the pun).

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The second pommel, the leaping horn,

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{1} A little tid-bit regarding Anne of Bohemia, was the birth of the Chess Queen on the chess board.

More on side-saddle riding

Articles – Tatler April 2013

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Margaret Thatcher – The Lady Who Strove to Serve the World.

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Margaret Thatcher was the female form of the “Churchillian” bulldog. A force of personality who stirred controversy overbreakfast, lunch, tea and dinner across the world that led the Russian press to ironically bestow her with the moniker “Iron Lady” – a mystery wrapped in an enigma was our M.T.  And don’t forget, (Aunt Spiker cried), she was our first female P.M! (M.P. would have rhymed better but that position was filled by Lady Nancy Astor in 1919)

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An Iron Lady before the Russians knew her, her determination and stamina knew no bounds – beginning as grocers daughter, earning a degree at Oxford in chemistry, dabbling as a barrister, elected as MP in 1959 and finally achieving what no woman had done before her. She possessed the keys to No.10 Downing street.
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She was a British bulldozer – our own Cold War Warrior; with her iron fists she accomplished lifting the “Iron Curtain” proving she would not desist, no matter the obstacle.  Meeting with President Gorbachev in December 1984, was the catalyst to begin negotiations with the Soviet Union and bring about the end of the Cold War. Her words, “we can do business together” formed a catalyst,  bringing the United States and Soviet Union to the negotiation table. The latter exhibits her savoir faire to act on initiative and appreciate the interests of both countries. Without Mrs. Thatcher its unlikely that President Reagan would have considered the thought of deliberations with General Secretary Gorbachev, who ruled what the U.S. President referred to as the “evil empire”.

Her domestic achievements included revitalising the British economy, emphasized deregulation, and lessened the authority of the trade and labor unions. Back over on the continent, she adamantly tried to prevent the very plague that is occupying Europe today, the Euro. Her support of the European Union was to ensure free trade and effective competition. One could say she was an augur who had her reasons and at times those reasons seemed harsh and cruel and resulted in negative situations. But she was of the people, for the people and like all humans, especially when placed into politics, people change and not always by choice.

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Margaret Thatcher was no fool nor a monster and was, I believe, demonstrably misunderstood and under-appreciated when she was in office and out. While at No. 10,  she not only battled those within Parliament, the Soviet Union, Falkland terrorism, the British economy, the people and lastly the press. Never before had a Prime Minister been the bunt of umteenmillion gaffes, cartoons, the monikers – the Milk Snatcher, Maggie, Attilla the Hen… a fetid of verbal and physical abuse. Yet she kept at her post and strove on as she had promised when elected. Her skin was akin to a medieval suite of armor – surviving the both Nazi and IRA bombs. Perhaps that was her undoing, that compromise was not a consideration.

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Mrs Thatcher was Great Britain’s 77th Prime Minister, succeeding James Callaghan (1976-1979), known for his little mess known as the “Winter of Discontent“. What comes as a shock is not the fact that she passed away, she was 87 and had been of poor health for sometime, but rather the British public’s reaction. Did people throw parties when Sir Anthony Eden died (ignited Suez Crisis), or Neville Chamberlain (Invasion of Poland) and while I’m at it, Stanley Baldwin and his major WW2 Hiccup. Politicians who could have perhaps help prevent World War 2, died without much more than a few hurrumps from some, and rather tainted images that are vaguely mentioned in the history books.

Its saddening to think, especially after such great unity and equanimity that we have shown as a country over the last few years (save for a few riots and other misconducts) that the world see’s how poorly certain citizens have reacted to the passing of one of our past Prime Ministers. Rather than mourn or be respectful, rejoicing proliferates.  In Brixton, Glasgow and Bristol street “death” parties took place – arrests were made, police officers injured and businesses damaged, all of which reveals nothing of her legacy but of the mind-state of those involved.
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The ANC (African National Congress) for whom Mrs. Thatcher had previously refused to recognise, as well her rebuff to isolate apartheid, published this statement which I believe says it all:

[Mrs. Thatchers] passing signal the end of a generation of leaders that ruled during a very difficult period characterized by the dynamics of the cold war. Her tenure as Prime Minister redefined British politics and public administration and these impacted greatly on the European politics and governance. The ANC was on the receiving end of her policy […] however we acknowledge that she was one of the strong leaders in Britain and Europe to an extend that some of her policies dominate discourse in the public service structures of the world. Long after her passing on, her impact will still be felt and her views a subject of discussion.[1]

For the people of Great Britain, and the rest of the world
may her passing call to mind a quote she once said:

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
And where there is despair, may we bring hope.

-St. Francis of Assisi

History of Mrs. Thatcher’s Downing Street Years in Film

Telegraph Documentary







BBC Documentary



Additional

[1] – http://allafrica.com/stories/201304090094.html

Happy 2013 to We Happy Few!

Ringing in 2013

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Resolutionary Thought

No drinking, smoking, go on diet, loose 2st, detox etc. The usual resolutions, are like the year before – old business. They are not to be kept. The New Year is the Battle of Agincourt. Resolutions are not routine, nor are they practice. They are sanguine thoughts that let us ring in the new year with determination and forbearance. Rather than making resolutions like the French did most likely singing, I Dream a Dream, attempt the British modus operandi. Attempt your resolutions so that they carry the same magic that Shakespeare’s Henry V possessed when he belted out “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

To make a resolution, one needs to find a companion, a friend, a mate to remember what feats [they] did that [year], and to use as motivation.
Bind together, help each other out and think about those who are lying now-a-bed, pulling the covers over their head to silence the sound of the alarm and hide from the persisting glare of their new trainers awaiting their January 1st run. Let he who have no stomach for this feast, let him depart. Perhaps in France there are castle on clouds, but here in Great Britain we keep our foundations firmly on the ground.

Here ‘s to 2013!