Today marks the Women’s Suffrage Movement. On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law, and women could vote in the fall elections, including in the Presidential election. This changed the political and equestrian worlds forever. My post for today is going to be about The Movement, including a few photos of some of the women that rode their horses astride and played a major part in this Movement. I will be featuring Jill Greenberg and some of her interesting horse art.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement~
Started In (USA): 1848-1920
The Women’s Suffrage Movement has been going on for centuries, since before the Amazon Warriors would ride into battle with Armour and would ride astride (and would upset the Greek men!!).But , on the other hand, the Mongolians, Comanche and Hawaiians would later took pride in the equestrian skills of their women riders. In North America, from 1848 to 1920, these brave women would ride their horses from coast to coast (they are also known as the Lady Long Riders), ride and march in marches, ride aside into a voting area and than gallop astride out and endure abuse and criticism to earn the right to vote and to ride astride! I will be telling you a little bit about a few of the courageous women and their horses below~
When Isabella Bird, an English Lady Long Rider sailed to Hawaii in the late 19th century, she learned how to ride astride thanks to the Hawaiians that lived there.
Not only did she ride astride for pleasure though, she would round up the wild cattle imported by the king of that island.
The Mexican vaqueros had also taught the local women to ride astride. Isabella not only adopted this technique, but used her vaquero saddle when she later explored the Rocky Mountains, Japan, Persia and Tibet on horseback~
Ethel Tweedie left London, she wasn’t planing on giving up the sidesaddle. Yet like Isabella, upon her arrival in Iceland, Ethel discovered that the local women rode astride.
“Necessity gives courage in emergencies, so I determined to throw aside conventionality, and do in ‘Iceland as the Icelanders do.’ The amusement of our party when I overtook them, and boldly trotted past, was intense; but I felt so comfortable in my altered seat that their derisive and chaffing remarks failed to disturb me. Riding man-fashion is less tiring than on a side-saddle, and I soon found it far more agreeable, especially when traversing rough ground. My success soon inspired Miss T. to summon up courage and follow my lead. Society is a hard task-master, yet for comfort and safety, I say ride like a man,” Tweedie recalled.
If the equestrian powder keg needed a fuse, it was the tiny Alberta Clare who proved that women were no longer willing to follow the rules.
In 1912 this diminutive pistol-packing Long Rider made an 8,000 mile solo equestrian journey across America that took her from Wyoming to Oregon, south to California, across the deserts of Arizona, and on to a triumphant arrival in New York City. Throughout the course of her long journey, Clare publicly stated that she associated her desire to vote with her right to ride astride.
Upon her arrival in New York, Alberta was greeted by Teddy Roosevelt, who praised Clare’s courage and urged that women be granted the right to vote.
Yet these were individual acts of courage. What was needed was a mounted champion who could turn the tide of equestrian history. And that woman, and her horse, were ready to lead the charge towards political and equestrian equality.
Her name was Inez Milholland and it was her destiny to lead an equestrian and political revolution, the intertwined implications of which have never been previously studied.
That is why, in addition to being a suffragist, labour lawyer, correspondent, and public speaker, Inez Milholland ranks as one of the most important female equestrian leaders in American history, for it was on the back of a horse that she liberated her sisters from the sidesaddle, as well as helping obtain them the right to vote.
She did this by making three rides astride which changed the political and equestrian landscape of America in a few short months. In May, 1912 Milholland saddled up a fractious bay and led ten thousand marchers across New York.
Then she headed to the nation’s capital mounted on a white charger named, Gray Dawn. Inez set out early on March 3, 1913, determined to lead an immense women’s suffrage parade several miles from the nation’s Capital to the Treasury Building. Her Joan of Arc inspired costume was “a symbol of the free women of the future, crowned with the star of hope, circled with the blue mantle of freedom and breasted with the torch of knowledge.”
Yet the suffragettes, who were marching on the eve of President Wilson’s inauguration, had barely begun their long walk when they were attacked by a horde of antagonists. Cut off from her friends, and alone in the middle of the howling mob, it looked as if the drunken thugs might pull down the suffragette rider. Instead Inez spurred Gray Dawn and charged the rabble.
“You men ought to be ashamed of yourselves,” she shouted, as her adversaries fled.
Thankfully, before her bluff could be called, U.S. cavalry troops galloped in from nearby Fort Myers. In the ensuing melee, the cavalrymen cantered up the avenue, crashing into civilians and clearing the way for the beleaguered suffragettes. Yet not even the cavalry could fully contain the wrath of the attackers who darted in behind the army, determined to kick, grab, curse, howl and spit at Inez and her fellow protestors. As the injuries rose, ambulances were called in to cart away hundreds of wounded spectators and suffragettes. But the women marched on.
Finally, many weary hours later, Inez and her fellow protestors reached their goal. The nation was aghast at how they had been treated. Inez, however, had no time to mourn.
Two weeks later she was in the saddle once again. This time she led ten thousand marchers through a peaceful New York. That was her last great ride and it ended at a rally witnessed by 150,000 people.
Then, like a candle that burned too bright, this mounted symbol of hope and equality died at the age of 30 from pernicious anaemia.
Her last public words were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
The answer was, seven more long, unjust years.
And here is our artist for today~
Jill Greenberg Artist~
Lives In: NYC, USA
“My obsession with horses began at the early age of six. What is it that makes young girls project so much onto these gorgeous animals? I drew them, painted them, sculpted them, collected plastic models of them, read stories about them, and rode them. When I saw the same happening with my young daughter, I decided it was time to return to my primary muse. It had been more than thirty-five years since my first attempts to capture the grace and musculature of these animals, and I finally had a black beauty in the studio and the skill to render him completely. Just to see the magnificent creature standing outside his trailer was beyond exciting. Those of us who live in cities easily forget the scale and power of large animals.”
“The horse project is not only an homage to the physique of these beasts but also an exploration of the paradoxical gender identities cast onto this unique animal. We see them as masculine, strong, muscular, even phallic. Yet they have been made subservient, so their position in the world relates to the role women continue to occupy. Horses are both masculine and feminine, dominant and submissive, mastered and wild. Their raw power and their innate sexual energy are harnessed by both men and women. My photographs focus on the animal’s body; on cut, striated muscles under shiny, cropped hair; on crimped manes and windswept forelocks; on the strong shoulders and hindquarters of Baroque breeds like the Friesian and the Andalusian. The colors I digitally hand-painted are associated with the feminine, yet the formal approach and strength portrayed is decidedly masculine.”
“But the horse’s rich history of ownership and usefulness to humankind comes out of an equally long history of forced submission. Horses must submit to the bit. Until quite recently, it was universally accepted that horses needed to be “broken” by their owners. The bit is a piece–or multiple pieces–of metal that interface with the tongue and mouth. An aggressive rider will yank the reins, which pulls the bit deeper into the mouth, gagging the animal. Items of tack called martingales, which tie the head down and force it to stay low, with the neck arched, are used to win points in dressage tournaments. This is called rollkur, or hyperflexion. Several images in this book show rollkur, but the position had been prompted by no tools save a carrot to encourage and direct the horse’s head. There are special bridles for jumping events that even shut horses’ mouths completely. The bits and bridles are used to control and manipulate raw, natural power, much in the same way that women’s movement-restricting apparel, supporting undergarments, and especially high-heeled shoes can be painful and limiting. I photographed bits, which, when taken out of context, suggest the appearance of sadomasochistic bondage gear. Which is, in fact, what they are.”
“My research into the harsh practices of equestrian oppression led me to discover a similar tool for use on women dating to the 1600s, called a scold’s bridle, designed to punish and silence mouthy women. The bridle was equipped with not only a serrated piece of metal to be inserted into a woman’s mouth but also, at times, with large ears so that the woman resembled an animal, to further the victim’s humiliation as she was paraded around on a lead in public.”
“Some punishments were very heavily gendered. The scold’s bridle symbolized the idea that women were like animals, because horses were made to wear bits and bridles. But there was also the practical effect that the bridle stopped a woman from speaking. Speech was said to be one of the main things that set humans apart from all other animals. By taking away her power of speech the bridle made a woman more bestial in practice as well as in theory.”
“Ultimately, I uncovered an historical incident that both signifies and transcends: a moment that has become a locus in my work to spotlight the intense emotion associated with the continued failure of feminism. The account is that of Emily Wilding Davison, a highly educated British suffragist. In 1913 she walked onto the Epsom Derby racetrack in the midst of a horse race in an attempt to pin a symbolic suffragist flag on a horse, but collided with and was trampled by Anmer, King George V’s horse.”
“In that one visceral moment, the idea of the horse and the idea of feminism manifested itself for posterity, in a woman’s failed effort to halt the forward motion of the animal of the most powerful man in the land–his surrogate, his racehorse. Recent work has led me to sketches for a sculpture to commemorate this event. A monument to the failure of Feminism. Interestingly, a life-size statue commemorating Emily Wilding Davison would also serve to remind us that, in the United States, only one in eight statues celebrate a woman’s achievements (Harper’s Index May 2011).”
“But more on the form of the horse. Their heads and necks are remarkably phallic, and I have chosen to exploit this in my photographs. I have long been concerned with “exposing the phallus” in a playful, mocking way. The horse’s neck is presented as a confrontational image. In general, the shapes and features in the photographs are not manipulated at all. The extent of the digital imaging work that I do varies, but it is primarily concerned with changing color, shading, and shine. These animals were photographed in makeshift studios set up in the ring at stables in and around California and outside Vancouver, as well as running free outside their barns. I used a camera better suited for studio portraiture so as to capture the highest-quality image possible. Chasing untrained horses with multiple, flashing strobe lights popping wasn’t the safest way to take photographs, but I survived, and it was worth it~”
once, when asked if it ever bothers her to be at the center of such controversy, Jill replied “It’s quite stressful, yes, and it’s unpleasant to receive death threats, comments about your children, comparisons to Hitler and Michael Jackson”.
Here are photos of Jill Greenberg’s interesting work! Enjoy~
Well, hope you enjoyed today’s post. Feel free to leave a comment below! At the end of this post there are several links that I found VERY interesting if you would like to read more on the beginning of side saddle and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
So, the next time you mount up, just think of all of the women that fought for that right~
The Beginning of Side Saddle and Women’s Suffrage Movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnRR_VB3XYg
And Jill Greenberg’s horse art site: