During the 17th Century, ladies started riding sidesaddle, also known as aside. Even Queen Elizabeth herself, known as the "virgin queen" because she never married, was an accomplished horsewoman who rode sidesaddle.
A lady competently riding sidesaddle, combined with a stylish riding habit, spoke louder than words of her social standing. Regency ladies had to take riding lessons, have time to practice the art of riding, and be wealthy enough to afford a horse trained as a lady's mount. Work horses could simply graze; riding horses needed feed, grooms, tack, farrier fees, etc. It became a mark of distinction and admiration.
Few grown ladies rode astride even in the country. It was viewed as unladylike and scandalous. It was probably also a declaration of one's incompetence at riding sidesaddle.
With a smile at her reference to the honorary rank he’d given her at the ball, Evan dismounted. He laced his fingers together so she could mount her horse. A pert smile came his way before she placed her left foot in his cupped hands. She put one hand on his shoulder to steady herself as he boosted her up. Her soft body brushed his arm and chest. Her scent, something soft and feminine he could not name, tingled his senses. Mere inches away, her smooth cheek and moist lips taunted him. His chest squeezed and his knees wobbled. Awareness of her, of the desirable woman she had become, rendered him immobile. She glanced at him, one brow raised, and a half smile curving those luscious lips. A burning energy formed in the middle of his stomach and shot outward like sunbursts.
She parted those lips and spoke. “Am I too heavy for a big, strong man like you?”
“Er, no. Of course not.” He cleared his throat again and boosted her up with a bit too much force.
Despite his aggressive boost, she placed her right leg over the leg rest of the side saddle and found her balance. She settled the long, heavy skirts of her riding habit around her while he helped position her left foot in the stirrup.
With the reins in one hand and her riding crop in the other, she eyed him with an expectant lift to her brows. “Shall we?”
Shannon Donnelly on Historical Hussies
Jill Ottman on the Jane Austen Centre of North America
Kathy Blee on Ladies Ride Aside