So many of our customers are involved in such interesting pursuits! It has been a joy to connect with many over the years to learn about their passions and how Recollections shows up. This week I had the chance to speak with Sarah Mognoni, an equestrian who is passionate about the connection between women and horses. Her activity-driven life is an inspiration to me and I am thrilled to be sharing her with our audience.
One passion, many saddles
Sarah first came to my attention when she got in touch with our team to let us know how much she enjoys wearing our dresses as part of her historic riding hobby, but that is just one activity she does on top of a horse. Sarah also has years of experience as an equestrian therapist, something I have often been curious to learn more about.
I had no idea about the dynamics that make equestrian therapy a modality.
“With humans being prey animals and humans being predators,” Sarah told me, “the combination causes emotional breakthroughs, particularly people who are non-verbal or have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Horses tend to react very positively to authentic emotions.”
It is horses’ reaction to raw emotion that causes them to be so good with children struggling with various disabilities or behavioral issues, Sarah told me, as they are acting from an authentic place when they express themselves.
One of the several new things that I learned while speaking with Sarah is that equestrian therapy is a type of “natural horsemanship.” Coined by horseman Pat Perelli in the 1980s said Sarah, “the concept that is by studying horse behavior and the way that horses interact with each other, human beings can form a jointly understood language with horses.”
Celebrating the connection between women and horses
Besides having a passion for the therapeutic capabilities of horses, Sarah is dedicated to honoring women’s connection with horses throughout time. Historic riding is one way that she does this. A history enthusiast Sarah says she has always loved learning about women from history who ventured out of the norm, “often on horseback.”
It is not just the horse and its ability to free women geographically that creates this connection, says Sarah. “I think women in most cases women have a connection to empathy that makes it possible for them to be authentic emotionally with horses. Women tend to empathize with prey animals.”
One of Sarah’s big-picture visions with her work is doing her part to elevate women within the equestrian space. This is a natural direction for the horsemanship community to take. After all, Sarah informed me that no less than 80-90% of horse owners are women over the age of 55.
Do you want to read about a woman venturing out on her own on horseback? Sarah recommends A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird. The book is waiting for me in my Amazon shopping cart!
Continuing the tradition of side saddle
One of the ways that Sarah celebrates and preserves the tradition of women and horses is through continuing the art of side saddle riding. Side saddle was designed in ancient times specifically for women, which in and of itself makes it worth preserving, she said. But besides that, it is a great way to ride while showing off beautiful dresses.
When it comes to elevating women within the equestrian space, Sarah says that side saddle as an option makes a lot of sense, as it is also easier on the hips.
Interested in side saddle? Sarah suggests checking out the American Side Saddle Association’s Facebook page and signing up for their quarterly newsletter. (And stay tuned! I will be covering the ASSA’s ride through Gettysburg in November).
Dressing for the occasion
Sarah has loved shopping with Recollections partially because the skirts drape so well when riding side saddle. She also loves the sense of women not being confined to ultra-contemporary clothing. “There is a particular lack of options when it comes to riding ensembles made for women,” she said. Recollections is happy to fill in the gap!
Want to learn about riding habits of the past? Check out our blog post: Victorian riding habits: more than meets the eye.
She does not portray any characters but rather according to a certain time period. For instance, she is preparing for a side saddle demonstration at her school where she will demonstrate how side saddle works, as many people are unfamiliar with the craft. She focuses on 19th-century costumes and selects pieces based on what mood she is hoping to express and what season it is.
I like to ask all of the customers I speak with what they recommend for anyone planning a historic outfit or costume. Sarah’s top tip is to keep your body type in mind and start with a style or silhouette that will make you look and feel your best and go from there, rather than necessarily starting with a specific time period.
Thank you for being a part of the Recollections community, Sarah!
Besides her various projects done horseback, Sarah is a painter and ballroom dancer. She pointed out to me that many people with a love of horses are also artists of various types. Please go visit her store and see if something strikes your fancy.
Want to see how another of our talented customers is keeping the tradition of side saddle alive? Check out our blog post: Marybeth Walker: Keeping the tradition of side-saddle alive