Laois Hunt at Shanahoe

Sidesaddle riding is a unique form of equestrianism where lady riders sit aside rather than astride their horse. Sitting aside dates back to the Middle Ages as a way for women in skirts to ride a horse a modest fashion while also wearing fine clothing. On Saturday last, Laois Hunt in conjunction with The Side Saddle Association of Ireland hosted a special lawn-meet in Shanahoe to continue this century’s old tradition and many sidesaddle devotees descended on the magnificent setting of Shanahoe House, home to the Connolly family, for this special occasion. In the early 20th century, as it became socially acceptable for women to ride astride while wearing breeches, the sidesaddle fell out of general use for several decades. However, there remained a place for sidesaddle riding in certain traditional and ceremonial circumstances, and aficionados kept the tradition alive until the sport enjoyed a revival beginning in the 1970s. It has since retained a specialty niche in equestrianism and the modern sidesaddle rider may be seen in many equestrian disciplines, including dressage, eventing, show-jumping and of course the hunting field. Saturday’s event was a huge success, with monies raised being donated to local charities and already plans are afoot to make this an annual occasion. Many thanks are due to all the local farmers and landowners for allowing the hunt to cross their lands, including hunt chairman Lionel Foot and Denis and Norma Connolly for the splendid hospitality they provided throughout the day.

A bit of background

The side saddle association of Ireland was founded in 1981 to promote  and assist side saddle  riders. Trish Hanson was the moving force , she was also the vice-president of the UK society. Ronnie and Judy MaMahon, Fania Mahony, Kathleen Carvill and the Curran family from Macetown Tara were also involved in the early days with much support from Mrs Rosemary Skrine from Wexford.

Patricia Hanson on Millmount RDS in 1963

Many days of instruction were organised and a large number of juniors were soon riding with confidence and polish, thanks to Trishs’ instructions.

As a result of this progress teams were sent to England for several years, competing at Newark and the Malvern where both senior and junior members competed  with wonderful results, bringing home plenty of rosettes and championships.

Team in Newark in the 1980's

Team in Newark in the 1980's

This year with the change of date for the 2012 RDS Dublin Horse Show  it is hoped to send a team to the Side Saddle champoinship show in Malvern on the first week of August.

Over the years the association have purchased a number of saddles which are available to rend, and instruction will be organised as members require.


New secretary required

Julie has been secretary for many years, and now it is time to hand over the reins. If you are interested in the position of secretary please contact Julie, at

Telephone: 01 8241762
Fax: 01 824 0065
‘Mulberry Manor Farm’
Rathbeggan Lane
Co Meath