Riding Sidesaddle …


Ah, the sidesaddle, a piece of horse tack designed in the old west to make those flowing skirts women wore to flow equally well on horseback … NOT!

In actuality, the sidesaddle was invented way back in the fourteenth century to … wait for it … protect the virginity of a teenaged princess as she made her way across Europe to wed the young King of England. Wow. Just wow.

So, the assumption the sidesaddle was a product of fashion because of long flowing skirts and dresses, isn’t how this particular piece of tack came about. Instead, it was to protect the physical proof of a princess’s royal virtue. And the rest is history.

This bright idea (I’d really like to know who came up with it) set forth the notion that the only way for a proper lady to ride was “sideways.” Never mind the fact you had to hang on like your life depended on it (which for many it did) it’s how you were supposed to ride. So, for some five hundred years this was how it was done. YIKES!

The sidesaddle we still know today was invented in the 1830s by Jules Pellier. His version has a fixed pommel to support the rider’s right thigh. He also came up with a revolutionary second pommel for the left leg. This allowed more security and control, giving the woman the freedom to stay on at a gallop and to jump fences. It was a far cry from early sidesaddles, The earliest of which was nothing more than a pillow and a piece of wood that had the woman facing left. Horses are mounted on the left side, so even the earliest versions were made this way.

Fast forward to the early twentieth century where the sidesaddle was a permanent fixture for women when it came to the proper way to ride. Worse, the slightest suggestion to the contrary could get you an earful. Take for example an article in the Los Angeles Times from 1905 (and yes, this was written by a guy): “The woman does not live who can throw her leg over the back of a horse without profaning the grace of femininity; or grasp with her separated knees the shoulders of her mount without violating the laws of good taste; or appear in the cross-saddle with any semblance of dignity, elegance or poise.”

There were women writers of the time who agreed. But as with anything, rumblings against this mode of riding were bound to start. In this case, it was British author Alice Hayes who made some of the first complaints against a sidesaddle, despite the fact she argued women should ride sidesaddle. But she also saw the sidesaddle’s impractical design and how it placed women in harm’s way.

“The fact of a lady having to ride in a sidesaddle, subjects her to three disadvantages: she is unable, without assistance, to mount as readily as a man; she cannot apply the pressure of the leg to the right side of the horse, and she cannot ‘drop her hands’ in order to pull her horse together to the same extent as he can,” wrote Hayes, in her 1893 book, The Horsewoman: A Practical Guide to Side-Saddle Riding.

 

 

By 1900, American women were geographically split on the issue. Women in the East clung to the sidesaddle as
proper and necessary, while Western women saw them as impractical and dangerous. Women out west were far more likely to use a horse for farm and ranch labor than those in the East, who were more likely to use a horse for weekend entertainment. Now there are sidesaddle riding clubs, events in horse shows for the sidesaddle and of course, other interesting places in the horse world where riding sidesaddle is the used.

 My sister and I grew up with horses, and we tried riding side-saddle by wrapping our right leg around the saddle horn. Dangerous? Yep, but we were Tomboys, what did we care about the danger? And yeah, we worked our way up to a canter riding that way. But we weren’t going to go for a gallop! Have any of your seen women riding sidesaddle in parades or at horse shows? Have you ever ridden a horse that way or thought it an elegant way to ride?

 

The National Cowboy Museum

Meet Tim …


Who doesn’t love a cowboy? And what better place to learn about them than The National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

During these trying times, people began looking for bright spots on the Internet and lo and behold they discovered Tim! He’d been asked by the museum to take over their social media while the museum was closed because of the pandemic. The result was hilarious, not to mention endearing. The man became famous almost overnight and all because he was inept at social media.

 

 But just because Tim was social media impaired, didn’t mean that people read his tweets and Instagram and made fun of him or hit him with rude comments, quite the opposite. His personality and love of the cowboy come through his trial and error attempts, and because of Tim, the museum’s Instagram followers increased by the thousands within days after he took over their social media. In fact, he became so popular so fast, CNN tracked him down for a phone interview. The result has been great for the museum and not only that, thousands of people have learned about the cowboy and other aspects of life in the old west. Soon other staff members were helping Tim out and creating different snippets of information to educate the public on the life of our beloved Cowboys.

 

 I myself hope to visit the National Cowboy Museum one day where I’m sure to meet Tim the security guard, Seth from marketing, and Michael Grauer, the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture/Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art.

 

 In the meantime, you can visit the museum’s website and take a virtual tour. Thanks to Tim, I’ve learned that it’s a fascinating place. I can also relate to his learning curve of tweeting, Instagram use, and other social media! Those of you who participated in Game Day yesterday can relate too I bet! If you’d like to check out the museum’s Instagram, you can find it here.

Just click on the photos to read what Tim and his cohorts have to say about them! There are video demonstrations of various aspects of cowboy life too!

 Have any of you been to a cowboy museum before? The closest I’ve come is the High Desert Museum outside of Bend, Oregon. Tell me what sort of old West or cowboy museums you’ve visited. If you haven’t, which ones would you like to?

 

 

 

Game Day!

 

Hi Gang! It’s GAME DAY! This goes with my blog post for tomorrow so this will be fun! Okay, ready to play?

 

So, how many of us text? All, a few, only when you have to? Well here’s a little game to get us all warmed up for tomorrow’s blog post. And this just isn’t about texting, but applies to different forms of social media as well!

Texting involves abbreviating and if you’re like me, you only know a handful! I look at what my kids text or put on their social media and can’t understand half of it. So for the rest of us, here are some guides  …

 

 

So for our game, try to make a sentence using just these abbreviations! Example: 2day HMU L8R. Translation: Today hit me up later. And yes, you can add a regular word or two. Such as, Hey Sally, 2day HMU L8TR! I’ll pick not one but THREE lucky winners to receive an e-book of mine of thier choice! Have fun!

Secondary Characters and a Giveaway!

What’s a story about a small town without those wonderful secondary characters? Especially when they have a vice? I have several well-established town gossips in my different series. Some of which do things that make the entire book!

Most of my gossips are women but I have some men too. In my town of Clear Creek, we have Fanny Fig. A classic gossip in every sense of the word. But then we also have Wilfred Dunnigan, who owns Dunnigan’s Mercantile. A hopeless romantic, he tries using gossip to bring people together.

In my town of Nowhere, in the Washington Territory, we have Nellie Davis, an ex-southern belle who isn’t happy about having to leave the South to come West. Stuck in a small town and with nothing better to do, she stirs up trouble by letting her tongue wag. Unfortunately, her gossiping ways get her into a lot of trouble, especially in my Mail-Order Bride Ink Series. In the first book in the series, Dear Mr. Weaver, she ends up having to perform community service after a judge deems her gossiping ways a crime

In my town of Independence, the worst gossip is the mayor, Horace Vander. With his booming voice, the man spreads news faster than the wind. Everyone in Independence knows that if you want to find out anything, just ask the mayor.

Stories of small towns, be they historical or contemporary, have certain types of characters authors use to add conflict to the story. Writers can give these secondary characters different vices and gossip is just one of the many.

One favorite such character, is Lady Whistledown, from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series. The books are set in the Regency era and Lady Whistledown publishes a gossip sheet that talks about everyone having attended a ball or party that’s just been held. No one knows who she is, but she’s talking about everyone! Soon to be a show on Netflix, Julie Andrews will play the voice of Lady Whistledown.

Is there a secondary character in a book you’ve read whose habits have caused a ruckus for the hero or heroine? Tell me for a chance to win an ebook of mine of your choice!

Cowboy Dancing and a Give Away!

When different people and cultures came to America, they didn’t have a lot in common with each other because they were so different. But one thing that brought people together was dancing. Different dances came to this country over the years and by the time we get to those occupied by the cowboy, there were quite a few. But our beloved cowboys didn’t have to be well educated in the latest dances of the day to have a good time. They managed quite well with a few caveats.
After long hours in the saddle, cowboys weren’t exactly the stuff of ballet dancers. They moved stiffly. Add to that the fact most cowboys weren’t very interested in learning new dance steps or giving up the time it took to do so. No, he was happy to jump into a dance without so much as taking his hat off or gun belt. One observer commented in 1873, that “some punchers danced like a bear ’round a beehive that was afraid of getting stung. Others didn’t seem to know how to handle a calico, and got as rough as they do handlin’ cattle in brandin’ pens.” And yeah, in case you’re wondering what a “calico” is, it’s a woman.

Of course, not all cowboys did this. There were those that did take the time to learn dances so they could better court a young lady. There was the minuet, cotillion, pattern dances, and courtly processions. When the Polka came west it was thought to be great fun! And folks gathered just about anywhere to dance — on ranches, in barns, in the wide-open spaces under the stars. Slowly a dance that was specifically “western” began to evolve.

To prevent chaos from dominating the dance floor (not everyone knew the same steps), someone had to call out steps to keep everyone from tripping over each other. This hero was the caller and it was his job to orchestrate the crowd into harmonious movement. And the rest is history on that development!

I’ve written quite a few books that have dances in them. My fictional town of Nowhere in Washington has it’s annual Christmas and Valentine dance. There are barn dances in my town of Clear Creek, and of course, the big Fourth of July Celebration in my town of Independence. In fact, dancing has been such a big part of storytelling, I can’t begin to tell you how many dances I’ve written into my books!

For any ebook of mine of your choice, tell me if you like to dance (or not) and how long its been since you’ve danced. For me, it was last summer in New York at a writer’s conference.

Laundry back in the Day … and a Give Away!

 Don’t you just love Western historical romance? We love the heroes and heroines and how they dressed. We also love reading tidbits about how they lived, their customs of the day,  social events, and the simplicity of the time. But there’s one thing most historical authors only touch upon in their novels. Probably because if they went into great detail, it would take up far more words than they want and slow down their story. I’m talking about laundry.

Back in the day doing the laundry wasn’t a matter of tossing your clothes into a washing machine, putting in some detergent, closing the lid, and pushing a button. It was a much more arduous task, one that could take 2 to 3 days depending on the size of one’s family.

We’ve come a long way since the twin tub and the drum washing machine. But before them, of course, was the simple washtub. Before hot and cold running water you had to haul water from a nearby well, creek, or river. To get the job done in a timely manner, you had to enlist the help of everyone in the family to fetch and carry bucket after bucket, because you needed water for both washing and rinsing. Then you had to heat the wash water in an iron kettle or a large metal washtub. This took time and somebody had to tend the fire.  While that was going on someone else sorted the clothes into whites, colors, and that special pile of the extremely dirty. You washed the clothes in that order. White’s first of course. Who wants to wash their whites in disgusting dirty laundry water?

Once put into the hot water, someone had to stir the clothes with a long stick then remove and scrub them on a
washboard with homemade soap. This could take up quite a bit of time in and of itself. For those unlucky enough not to have a washboard, a good-sized rock was the answer. 

Washboards were placed vertically in the washtub after the clothes were removed from the tub and set aside. Then one at a time, each piece of clothing was rubbed briskly on the metal ridges and plunged back into the water regularly. When the water became too dirty they had to heat another batch. Then they rinsed their clothes in cold water to remove the soap, rung the clothes out by hand or used a ringer if they had one. If not, they slapped each piece of clothing against a trusty rock. Then they hung them up to dry. For large families, is it any wonder this took so long? Aren’t you glad for your Maytag?

Though many of us enjoy our washers and dryers, there are also a lot of folks who like to line dry their clothes and bedding. I’m one of them. I love to dry clothes on the line in the summer and get that fresh air scent. What other conveniences are you happy we have now? Has anyone ever cooked on a cookstove? Have you ever used a tub washer? Did you grow up with one?

I’ll pick a random person from the comments below to receive a copy of my upcoming e-book,  dear Mr. Tindle, which will be out on May 31.