Kelt Capital Horse of the Year - A celebration of all things equestrian - New Zealand

 Side Saddle


The elegant art of side saddle riding enjoys a growing popularity both in New Zealand and in many other countries.

The first objective of the Association is to promote and encourage the art of riding side saddle and to further the interests of side saddle riders. Membership of the Association is open to anyone interested in this elegant style of riding. For more information, visit the New Zealand Side Saddle Association's website at or email the Secretary at [email protected].

The paramount qualities of a side saddle horse are suppleness, obedience and even, comfortable paces, but above all it must be a safe ride for a lady. Breeding and conformation are considered to be of secondary importance.

Elegance, neatness and ideally an appearance of true unity are the three essentials that all side saddle riders strive for. Tradition plays a strong part in a rider's turnout and the NZSSA has strict rules and guidelines for turnout and saddle fitting. Today's side saddle costume, which is known as a habit, evolved during the 19th century and was made for safety, as the long and full skirts previously worn were liable to catch on the pommels if a rider should fall from her horse. Today, the habit skirt is a backless apron beneath which matching breeches are worn.

Side saddle has been included in the Horse of the Year programme since 2001, and always draws great interest and a large number of spectators. Classes included at HOY are Concors d'elegance - for the most elegant combination; side saddle mount - for the most suitable side saddle horse; side saddle rider - for the best side saddle rider; and Horse of the Year Unity Title Class, which is judged on the horse, rider, turnout and overall combination.

For Side Saddle conditions and schedules please click here.

Our Sponsors

Sarah Gault (Gisborne) and "Sweet Afton" winners of the HOY Side Saddle Unity Title Class, 2008.
Photo courtesy [email protected]