The daring, scantily clad equestrienne vaulting from her horse and pirouetting on its back has dazzled circus audiences since the late eighteenth century. In this lecture, Kim Marra situates this act amid the burgeoning culture of female equestrianism that developed in New York City after the Civil War and within a vanished infrastructure of riding academies, stables, bridle paths, harness shops, and horse shows that were once part of the cityscape.

Kim Marra is professor of theatre arts and American studies at the University of Iowa. She is a lifelong rider and former competitor in the cavalry-derived sport of Three-Day Eventing.