Here is a marvelous quote from T.H. Mead’s book ‘Horsemanship for Women’ (1887) that I discovered in Kathleen Walker-Meikle’s book ‘The Horse Book’
Advice for lady riders:
“Mount then, from the ground, if you have some one to put you on and some one to hold your horse; or, if the horse will stand without holding, cautioning your escort–if you are not sure of his expertness in such service–to be sure to raise your foot straight up, and to give you warning by counting one, two ,so that you may be certain to have the leg straightened before he begins the lift, as otherwise the result may be the reverse of graceful.
When in your saddle, rise in your stirrup, as already suggested, and smooth down your dress, meantime thanking your escort and telling him how well he did it. This smoothing down of the skirt is a good plan to practice frequently, first standing, then at a walk, then at a trot, till you can do it deftly, almost without a thought, for there is no telling at what inopportune moment it may become necessary.”
So! There you have it! These women were not just sitting about doing their knitting. They were up and out riding their horses and looking graceful! And gentlemen ….you are now, no doubt, aware of the importance of being able to assist the woman in the process of mounting her horse.