Recently, I read Atomage for the first time for some years and was surprised at the constant references to and photographs of SBR, whilst there was little, if any, mention of rubberised double texture riding mackintoshes.
It is sadly the case that riding mackintoshes are less common today than they were a few years ago, but they still represent the only rubberised waterproofs that are on sale openly in accepted shops.
No eyebrows are raised, particularly in the country or at horsey events, at people wearing them. Indeed they are quite normal and very useful.
It is this ability to be accepted that makes them attractive, apart from their texture, small and style which all helps to make them so alluring. To walk, or better still to ride in the country in the pouring rain wearing a riding mac is tremendously exhilarating and to do so with a pretty young girl is out of this world.
Everything about the white riding waterproof is exciting. They have high storm collars with a fastening that draws the collar tightly around the chin and even across the mouth, a wide belt that can be pulled very tight, and straps that fasten around the thighs (to keep the mackintosh over your knees when in the saddle) which give an aura of restraint or bondage. They are heavy and a mite restricting in the nicest possible way, while a slit at the back with a flap to cover the saddle is, when astride a horse, just suggestive of enough protection to be interesting. When rubber riding boots, a riding hat and a long swishing riding whip are added, the effect can be devastating.
We recently had a very pretty girl staying with us and were lucky enough to have a very wet day while she was here. I went riding with her and we loaned her a very new white riding mac, together with a long dressage whip and rubber boots. She rides well although she pointed out to us that she had not worn a riding mac since she left school. However she was quite at home in it, fastening the leg straps and belt very tightly, and at once turning up the collar. As we rode out of the yard into the swirling rain she settled comfortably into the saddle, pulled the skirt of her mac out from under her and arranged it to cover the saddle. As she fastened the storm collar under her chin she looked across at me and said she was ready for anything.
Later during the ride her horse shied at a car and she quickly gave him three hard cuts with her whip across his quarters. When he had settled again she told me she had forgotten what a lovely feeling a riding mac gave her and had just remembered how important it was to use a long whip when wearing one otherwise one only flicked the skirt of the mackintosh instead of the horse. She was clearly enjoying herself and needed little encouragement to tell me that when she was at school all girls who rode were forced to have a riding mac and that if they went out riding without one when it was raining they were severely punished. I asked if that meant a whipping, but she said not officially – although I had the impression that it happened unofficially.
She was too close a friend of the family for me to take things further but I longed to do so.
Perhaps we could have more pictures, stories and letters about riding waterproofs which is really the only genuinely accepted rubberwear left on the market.
– R.R. (Devon)