The Women’s saddle from Kvitnes

The priest’s daughter Thomine Marlene married into the Ellingsen family in Sortland in 1847. Her husband Christopher ran the trading vessel down to Bergen, and in 1855 he bought the farm Kvitnes at Innlandet in Hadsel. That same year, a beautiful women’s saddle, also called a side saddle, was made for Thomine.

The dresses that women wore around the mid-1800s were called Biedermeyer dresses. They often had large crinolines that took up a lot of space, and consisted of a lot of fabric. It was not considered modest for a woman to wear trousers, or sit on a horse with her legs either side, and the side saddle was to enable women to participate on horseback. The first side sadels we know of are from the Middle Ages.

Thomine’s side saddle has a thin leather strap she could fasten around her waist to sit more securely on the horse. There is also a small footboard where she could rest her feet, which probably also helped when she was to ascend on the horse. The risk of falling from a side saddle was much greater than with a regular saddle.

The saddle is beautifully decorated with patterns pressed into the leather, as was only proper for the housewife of a large farm like Kvitnes.

The side saddle is part of the collection at Melbo Manor.

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