This post was going to be about research for my next romance, but two recent incidents derailed me. The first occurred in a long-running thread about historical romance in the Book Corner of Kindle Boards. Someone mentioned there a romance that included sex on horseback, and there was a lot of oohing and aahing and readers posting how they were hurrying to get the book.
Since I’m probably already considered the chief curmudgeon of Kindle Boards, I made myself keep quiet, but thankfully someone else finally posted how unlikely and uncomfortable such a thing would be, so I could second the sentiment without sounding too cranky. Look at the photo here of a working cowboy taken in 1888. Think about a full grown woman on that horse with him and sexual gymnastics. Would it be physically possible? Probably. Fun, pleasurable or romantic? Draw your own conclusions.
How about an English saddle? Less painful maybe but not more practical. And what about the horse? How many live and undrugged horses do you think would put up with our romantic couple as opposed to dumping them on the ground or running off a cliff with them? I never dealt with the kind of docile, broad-backed beast used by circus performers for bareback performances, but that seems about the only practical possibility, and the whole idea still strikes me as borderline horse abuse and stupid beyond belief, not romantic.
If the second incident hadn’t come right on the heels of the first, I would have ignored it. Romances so often have the hero taking the heroine up on a horse in front of him and the two of them riding that way that I’ve stopped slamming the Kindle shut and zapping books over it. It sounds so sexy. Her backside tight against his frontside. Except take another look at the 1888 cowboy. How exactly is our heroine fitting in front of the guy? Then look at the photo of the empty saddle. Even if the hero pushes so far back he’s riding on the cantle, how is the heroine fitting in front of him without the swell (pommel) and the saddle horn bruising her beyond belief in terrible places? Some stories have the heroine sitting on the hero’s thighs. No, she’s not. Look at the angle of his legs.
I’m sure most all of Romancelandia is going to continue to buy into lovely myths about sex in the saddle and heroines who ride not just for hours but days in front of the hero in the saddle in spite of my rant here, but I feel better now.
Photo of the cowboy is in the public domain and was taken in 1888 photo by John C. H. Grabill. Photo of the saddle is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Source: Modified from Image:Tinker Stute.JPG Author: Modification by BLW, original image by Borsi112.