Sunday 10 December 2017

Snow Day

It was supposed to be the Dianas of the Chase side saddle race today at Ingarsby here in Leicestershire but heavy snow saw the event cancelled. I was looking forward to going to see this since it's only a 23 minute drive from me but hopefully they will rerun it early next year when the snow melts. The UK isn't really equipped to handle heavy snow so best to be safe than sorry!

Luckily, we have an indoor school here at my stables so I did a bit of side saddle riding in my 1860s saddle as I currently have no other usable side saddle for Harriet (more on that in a later post). It's not the best thing to ride a big moving warmblood in and it can't take too much hammering, but it is ok for now to do a bit of walk / trot in while Harriet comes back into work and I strengthen her stifles up (Harriet has locking stifles). Did some walk/ trot / halt transitions and some should in and out but Harriet's mind was on getting into the snowy field so it was only a short schooling session today.

Since it is too snowy to do much riding, model horses are the next best thing! I've collected Breyer model horses since I was 12 and used to have a huge collection which I later sold when I moved to England in 2000. Thankfully, Breyers are becoming easier to find in the UK so the collecting bug for them has been rekindled. I couldn't believe it when I heard that Breyer was bringing out a Side Saddle Horse and Rider set in 2006 but never thought I would be able to find one in the UK. Then one day when my fiance (now husband!) and I were looking for a venue for our wedding reception in January 2007, we passed by the toy shop in town and there was one in the window with a £49.99 price tag. Forget the wedding, that Breyer set was mine so marched in there and bought it. I had kept it in it's box ever since, until yesterday, when I decided to finally open it. After ten years of being stored in my closet, the box was getting battered and thought to myself that it was time to enjoy my Breyer.

I'm so pleased that I did open it as the set has real leather tack and a Champion and Wilton style side saddle complete with white "string" gloves and a sandwich case.

Although not a "side saddle set", I did come across an offside western Steele side saddle on Ebay which was custom made by a Breyer tack maker. There are not many offside side saddle around let alone Breyer ones, so this one was added to my collection to go on Halla (who looks sort of like Hattie did).

Not Breyer but Barbie time, is her horse called Dancer. Dancer is from the late 60s- early 1970s and probably was the best and most realistic of every Barbie horse ever made. She had articulated joints and as a kid, my Dancer was everything from a Tennessee Walking Horse to a top level show jumper. I believe there were a few Dancer horse sets in the 70s, an english one, a western one, a side saddle set and a set that had a stand to allow Dancer to "jump" or gallop. 

What is neat about the Barbie side saddle, is that it was moulded after a Champion and Wilton  saddle with realistic narrow pommels. Modern Barbie side saddles have kept the same body of the saddle with the Champion & Wilton styling but the pommels have changes so that Barbie literally sits sideways with her legs hooked through the horns.

(Dancer side saddle set from 1968)

Last but not least, is is the pink Barbie side saddle from the 1983 Prancer set. They used the same Champion & Wilton saddle mould for the Prancer side saddle but made in pink rubber instead of brown. As a child, this always annoyed me as I wanted my tack to look realistic and Barbie was a top equestrian so couldn't have a pink side saddle so I got out my black marker and coloured it all in black. That "black" side saddle got lost when I moved here but I found this pink one on Ebay and it now lives on my mini rocking horse beside my computer.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Hello again!

I'm going to try and keep this blog regular as I have missed writing on it. A lot has happened in the past two years, life changing things (for the better like a new job and I passed my driving test!) and then some sad things like Hattie passing away on June 27, 2016 due to an injury sustained in the field. Thankfully, Hattie was looking down on me and my horselessness and found me a new partner in crime, ironically named Harriet.

In the coming weeks/ months, I'll catch you all up with the neat things got to do before she passed, the saddles we encountered and of course, all about the lovely Harriet who is already starting to step up into Hat's big horse shoes (and like Hats, prefers me to ride side saddle).

Hattie and Harriet

Friday 13 March 2015

Craigslist Side Saddle Scam Alert!

One of my readers here alerted me to a SCAM  listing on Craigslist  where they are using my photos and selling my old black Swain. This is a £3500 saddle and if the price is too good to be true, well, you know the saying.


I sold it to a lady NOT in the UK and she loves it as it fits her horse perfectly, she is NOT selling it.

Unfortunately, sites like Gumtree and Craigslist are a haven for scammers and unless you can go and see the item yourself and pay cash, then don't bother trying to buy something on there. Many people have been ripped off on there for saddles, trailers and even horses.

I have all the original images for this saddle all the images they have will be at low rez and stolen off of my Ebay auction.

Craiglist website listing:

It is also listed on the Adoos website at a lower price as well, both are scams:

Saturday 21 February 2015

The Side Saddle Kickstart Project

Hi guys! Sorry I have been away for so long but a lot has happened and just never got around to updating my blog, namely a lovely new job!!

To give me the proverbial "kick up the bum" to get me to update this page regularly, I'd like to present Sarah Parry's, Bit on the Side Saddle Kickstart project! Now, I have a Bit on the Side Saddle saddle, my beautiful and EXTREMELY comfortable off-side Megan and I can't believe how well Hattie did this past show season in it. She won nearly everything in it and even judges who had seen us in previous years, remarked how well Hattie went under the Megan saddle. We ended up winning several ridden Champions and a Reserve Supreme Champion- go Hats and her Megan saddle!

(Winning Ridden Champion in the Megan saddle at South Kilworth Riding Club)

Sarah's Kickstart project will enable her to continue to develop her modern line of affordable side saddles so it is a project that is very close to my heart and that I fully support (she has lots of exciting new projects in the works!). Many of the side saddles out there, are nearing 100 years old or more (my other three vintage offside saddles are 115, 117 and 155 years old respectively!) so won't still be usable forever so we need to encourage ALL the side saddlers, side saddle makers, tree makers, designers, etc, that we have now, to keep going and continue to produce new side saddles so our sport doesn't die out due to antiquated equipment.

My beautiful Megan saddle is currently with Sarah as she is making a lovely thick wykham pad for it to help with Hattie's changing shape as she gets older (she is 19 now!) but you can bet as soon as it comes back, Hattie will be rearing to go and show!

There is only limited time left to support Sarah's project so please feel free to read about and pledge to support a small budding business by clicking the link below. Although the Kickstart project is listed in British Pound Sterling, anyone all over the world can pledge. You enter the amount you wish to pledge (as little or as large as you want, use to give you an idea of conversion rates) and your credit or debit card company will do the conversion. Sarah has made saddles for people all over the world so it is a truly international business.

Thanks! :)

Friday 27 June 2014

A Late Victorian Riding Habit

I love being a vintage clothing dealer and getting to handle all sorts of neat vintage treasures but it's also hard when you come across things that I absolutely love that you have to sell. It's either have lots of fabulous things and not pay bills or run my business and pay bills! One such item is a late Victorian riding habit from c. 1889- 1891 that I as very lucky to recently acquire for my vintage clothing website, Corsets and Crinolines.

It's made from khaki green nun's cloth (an itchy loosely woven wool) with "kick-up sleeves" and a double breasted styled front, both of which, were popular during this time. 

The inside of the bodice is lined in brown cotton and heavily boned with spring steel boning. 

The back of the bodice has the typical squared off peplum which were typical of riding habit bodices from the late 1860's right to when riding habit jackets became the norm.

The skirt is not a safety apron and is rather full with pleats all around the waist/hips to allow for the extra fullness for riding and is very long at 50". It is an older style of full riding skirt based on 1860's styles without any safety slit or opening to accommodate the pommels. 

The middle to bottom portion of the riding skirt has wear and fading form where it was pressed against the safe of the saddle by the right left and rubbed against it.

Here is a photo from c. 1885 of Florence Lewis in her riding habit probably taken in East Sussex at Upper Dicker. Although her bodice is styled slightly different to the bodice on my habit (same squared off peplum though!), the skirt is near identical in pattern, length and fullness to the riding skirt on my antique habit. The photo is an excellent example showing how the skirt would have looked and hung once mounted.

(Photo courtesy of Florence's great grand-daughter, Belinda Wilkins. You may visit the Wilkins' stand  at the SSA National Show.)

The habit was made for someone 5ft to 5'2" and is very petite in proportion as it has a 32" bust (so the wearer would have had a bust measuring about 30") and a 21" waist (so the wearer would have had an 19"- 20" waist to allow for ease of movement. For fun, I put it beside my own riding habit made about 125 years later in 2013 and on a dress form set to my height of 5'9" and my dress size of a UK 16 (so a 42" bust and a 32"- 34" waist). Although my riding habit isn't really representative of modern sizing as I'm still taller than most people (men and women) today and a larger dress size than what most women wear, I just thought it was a neat comparison between old and new and two habits at opposite ends of the size charts!

Although I love the styling of the antique habit, it makes me appreciate my modern habit even more for it's safety apron and the fact I don't need to wear a corset with it!

Saturday 21 June 2014

Up and up

Hattie and I had another successful showing day last Sunday at the Diamond Equestrian show coming 1st in  Best Turned Out, 1st in Style and Appearance and 3rd in Riding Club horse. Hattie is really going well in her new off-side side saddle and I was VERY glad to have it in the Riding Club Horse class when the judge whacked the jump up to 2ft!

The jumps are usually about 1'6"- 1'9" in Riding Club classes which I feel comfortable doing but 2ft is still a little too high for a weenie like me to do without poo-ing myself. I was panicking as each rider before me did their individual shows and took the jump in their stride (it seems that a lot of people who enter RC classes tend to be show jumpers so they do not seem to care what height the jump is set at, lol) and then it was our turn.

We did a nice walk, trot and canter on both reins with good rolling transitions and then let I Hattie have her head a bit as I didn't want her going to the fence in a full on collected dressage canter but still kept her motoring from behind (it's kind of like a rolling sensation from behind), said a prayer out loud and hoped for the best.

She went to hesitate but then thought better of it and popper the fence in a less-than-elegant fashion. It wouldn't have been so bad but everyone was standing around to see if the side saddle rider would make it. We did, and I didn't die so that is good.

The massive 2ft jump!!

Another thing that got "put up" this week apart from the jump, was the wykham pad in my Champion & Wilton. For the past 1-2 months of riding Possa in it, I have just felt that the saddle was dropping ever so slightly away from under my right thigh. I wasn't sure if it was just Possa as the saddler had originally been fitted to Hattie but I tried it on Hattie and it did the same thing so got the saddler out.

It had shimmed it up with new felt at the end of September/October so thought that it was probably just the new felt bedding down so he added another thicker felt shim to lift it up a bit more for Possa.

I rode her in it on Wednesday again and the saddle is a good fit but she is generally weaker on the right rein (polo ponies don't really do the type of schooling dressage and showing horses do) and she tends to drop away from me on the right rein, especially on bends.

I found after working her on circles and doing lots of transitions so she was using her back more, that "dropping sensation" on the right rein, virtually disappeared at the end of our schooling session so think we need to work more on that. 

In this case, the dropping away" sensation I felt was caused by the saddle AND the horse but at last now that I know the saddle is fitted perfectly to her, I can work on Possa's schooling to build up the muscles more on the off-side.

Thursday 12 June 2014


No, my saddle isn't going rusty but I have rust on my legs!!

For those in the UK who aren't familiar with the North American obsession with rust breeches, it was a popular colour for hunter/jumper riders to wear until "puke green" breeches took over in the late 1980's. Rust is making a comeback in the USA and Canada but the UK has been resistant to this particular colour, although why is anyone's guess as it is flattering for all figure types and for women AND men as well!

It is a very traditional colour and always thought would suit side saddle riding but hard to find or non-existent in the UK, so was VERY happy when Sarah Parry, from a Bit on the Side Saddle, contacted me to let me know that she had brought out a rust coloured breeches line into her product range!

I used to wear rust in the late 1980's and early 90's as a teenager so when my pair arrived in the mail, I felt like a kid again! The Bit on the Side Saddle ones are made from that woven stretch cotton that is really popular with the more expensive breeches (and which I really like!) and they have full clarino seats which are useful for side saddle riding, especially if you have a leather seated side saddle. They aren't the side saddle specific line of breeches that they do with the clarino on the outside if the right leg but normal full seat breeches. This is fine as I ride off-side any ways and you can use them astride too.

I ordered the UK size 16/18 and fit well in the hips and thighs and are long enough for me too. I REALLY hate when breeches end mid calf on me, not comfortable AT ALL but these are perfect. I've been wearing mine for two days straight to school Hattie (rust doesn't show the dirt so you can get a couple of day's wear out of them!) and have had good grip in the saddle and not been constricted at all!

Just need a rust habit now ;-)