Saturday, 27 March 2010

Side Saddle Finds!

Been a bit of a lazy week this week as I had a bad cold and I think Hattie has caught it! We went to a horse show last Sunday, did some show jumping and came away with two rosettes and then Sunday night my cold started and a couple of days later, Hattie started with it. I've been coughing and having a snotty nose and so has she. Can horses catch people colds? I've been blowing my nose and coughing at the stables and then making up her feeds so I'm thinking if people catch viruses this way, why not animals too? She's up to date on her vaccines for Equine Flu, etc so I reckon she has indeed caught mine or a cold of some sort.

Hattie lives out so she doesn't have the dust from the stables bothering her and I've started wetting her hay and feed so any dust on the hay doesn't aggravate her. I've also started giving her a nice vitamin rich feed for good doers and been giving her extra carrots and apples in her feed for vitamin C. There is nothing wrong with her appetite!!

It was a nice day today so we went for a quite walk down the lane. I rode side saddle but I'm still not feeling too great and Hattie coughed a few times so it wasn't a long ride- just something to keep us moving. We were planning on jumping at a show next Sunday but I think we may give it a miss if Hattie still isn't right.

I got to try out my "new" three fold girth today on my saddle. I say "new" as although it's new to me, it's an ancient Barnsby girth probably from the 1940's or something. I found it at my local tack shop that sells all sorts of strange and wonderful tack!

I like it but I need to darken the leather to match my saddle, add keepers onto it and get the buckles and chapes replaced as they are old nickle buckles and the leather buckle chapes have cracking. The leather of the girth itself is still supple though.

We went to an antique sale today too and I found another bargain, a Christy's of London bowler hat in my size for £25! It's nearly new and in excellent condition.

I'm so pleased as usually at antique fairs, the hats are so small, at the Side Saddle shows they are too expensive and I never have any luck on Ebay finding one, as I have to compete against men bidding for the same hats due to my big hat size!

Fingers crossed for tomorrow that Hattie is feeling a bit better as we have our first side saddle lesson this week!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Just Ridin' in the Rain

Despite the heavy rain today, we still went out for a hack today. I didn't end up wearing my top hat and wine velvet jacket like I had wanted to, as I didn't want to ruin them in the rain. Good news though as I got my silver Charles Owen helmet back that got stolen! The thieves dumped it in the field next to mine and the farmer found it in his plants (thank goodness it had a soft landing). I got it cleaned up so it's good as new and have been wearing it all week to ride in.

Hattie was a bit slow at the beginning of our ride, but soon perked up when we were joined by some other riders and then couldn't stop her on the way home!

My leg ACHED from not riding side saddle for a long time and my right shoulder did not want to co-operate with staying back but don't feel to bad now. We didn't canter today as the rain made the grass to slippery (and Hattie would have galloped off with me with the mood she was in!) but we had a couple of good trots.

The bridleway that we hack out on is quite narrow as you can see in the photos, so often we have to ride on the grass verges if a car drives past us on the lane. There are some dtiches that cut across the grass verges and normally we just walk down, through and up them but today, Hattie decided that we were going to jump the ditch and caught me off guard! LOL, thank goodness for the horns on the saddle!

You can see how the ditches cut across the grass verges in this photo. You can also see how Hattie was revved up and would not stay still to have her photo taken.

Us on our way home, we'd had enough of the rain!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Little Red Riding Coat

I came across this lovely photo on the internet, it's taken from a Money Week articles about holidays you can take here in the UK in old historic country houses.

I didn't think much to the article or the thought of spending £1000 a day to stay at a country house, but I did love the long red coat the rider is wearing in the photo (and her patent leather riding boots!). The whole look of the rider's outfit is just so unconventional yet classy.

We're going out on a hack tomorrow if the weather is nice, and I was going to ride sidesaddle. I have a top hat and white stock tie, I can polish up my rubber riding boots to make them shiny and I have a coat....

My vintage 1940's wine velvet coat that I wore to my wedding! Don't have any dark grey breeches though and my light grey ones are in the wash.

Hmmmmmm, wondering if I should be so bold as to try and ride out like this?!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A Victorian Mother's Day

Happy mother's Day!

It's Mother's Day here in the UK so I decided to share some Mother's Day themed Victorian photos that I have in my antique photo collection.

A c. 1867- 1868 CDV photo of a young lady in her riding habit and holding her whip, leaning lovingly against her mother. The girl wears her hair in the fashionable rolls seen at her temples but her mama has a slightly older hairstyle covering her ears, which would have been fashionable during the 1850's and early 1860's. You can just see a horseshoe shaped brooch at the neckline of the daughter's habit. I just love this photo as you can see the closeness of mother and daughter rather than the typical stiff, formal stiff poses of most Victorian photographs.

This c. 1885 cabinet card is probably one of my favorites in my collection. It's a candid photo of a lovely hourglass shaped lady looking lovingly at her cute little baby. It's an unusual photo as there is a stark difference between the lady's severe looking riding habit (which REALLY flatters her figure) and the soft innocence of the little baby along with white fluffy baby clothes it's wearing. It's just a lovely photo.

Good news!! I got in touch with a side saddle instructor here in Leicestershire and I'll be having my first side saddle lesson on Thursday! I'm so excited but nervous at the same time as I know there will be LOTS of bad habits to correct since all I've learned, has been from my side saddle books with no one to point out any faults I've acquired. I wasn't sure whether to have a 1/2 hour or a full hour lesson but my instructor said a 1/2 lesson is best or else I won't be able to walk after!!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

First Side Saddle Ride of the Year!

It was such a nice day today that I decided to go on a hack this evening and do it side saddle!

Hattie came into winter a right fatty horse, she's such a good doer and gets fat just looking at food so thought winter would be a good time to try and get that extra weight off of her before the spring grass comes through and she gets even fatter. I cut out the hard feed as we weren't doing any hard work and just gave her Happy Hoof chaff (which does not have any molasses or fattening things in it) and gave her loads of hay. I think she is just about at the right weight now and the trick will be trying to keep her at this weight during the spring and summer. Hattie seems to do best with LOTS of fibre (chaff and hay) and not any processed feeds which blow her mind (and her weight!).

Anyways, with the extra pounds off, I noticed that the saddle fit ALOT better than it did in December. When the saddler had come around to put the point strap on the off-side of my saddle in November, he did say that the tree had gotten a little bit narrow for her but that it was still ok.

Well, looking at the saddle today, the panels fit flush with her- better than they did last year. Also, with the weight loss, she actually has withers and a defined shoulder now instead of one blobby mass on each side of her withers, which helps to hold the saddle in place and stop it from sliding forward. The saddler did remark on the lack of definition of wither and shoulder last year as she didn't have the indentation most horses have that locks the saddle into place due to her extra weight.

A nice fit on the nearside..

And a nice close fit on the off-side..

Unfortunately, due to Hattie's weight loss, my lovely wide and soft 54" three fold girth that I bought from Robert Jenkins last summer, is now too big and I got to try out the used narrow three fold girth that I found on Ebay earlier this year.

Although the leather isn't as soft and lovely as my other girth, it work great with my saddle and it didn't seem to bother Hattie as long as I use with with my sheepskin fleece cover. I'll need to keep a balance girth keeper sewn onto it as there isn't one and had to use my spur strap to anchor the balance girth to the three fold!

If you are noticing the weird girth placement on my saddle, it's because Hattie has a very forward girth grove which requires me to use the point strap on both sides of my saddle to be able to set the girth forward enough on her. I then have to buckle my balance girth on the bottom billet hole underneath my three fold girth...

With Hattie all tacked up and ready to go, we set off!

It took me a while to get the "sweet spot" back on my saddle and my muscles did not want to cooperate but I was pleasantly surprised when we started trotting that I didn't bounce as much as I thought I would and my lower leg stayed put more or less!
We even got a few canters in and *I THINK* managed one on the left rein for a few strides. Unfortunately, we had to quit cantering as Hattie got too excited and took off cantering on the paved lane, trying to head towards a little girl on a tiny Shetland pony cantering our way! I managed to stop her but she was prancing and snorting on the spot at the tiny rider and the equally tiny pony cantering past us!

I kept thinking "right shoulder BAAAAAACK" and right heel to left shin as all this was going on and managed to sit it out. We then headed home on a loose rein so Hattie could chill out a bit and had to lift my cane up and off of her so as not to wind her up even more (that's why it's sticking up so high in the photo below!). We have alot to work on tomorrow when we school side saddle.

Then finally nearing home in one peice!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

What A Start To The New Show Season!

Did my dressage test on Sunday and we came 4th out of a class of 14!
LOL, although after riding my test, I didn't think I rode particulary well but after watching the video, I could see that Hattie saved my butt (even though I called her a donkey!). Sorry for the grainy photos, but I had to do screen shots from the video.

We got 63% which beat our last score of 61.7% and we got better marks 6's and 7's (7 for rider's position!), no 5's like our last test and the judges comments were good but bascially, we need to work more in a contact.

This will come with more schooling and hacking out since we were both out of shape after our winter break. I also need to work on my lower leg as I don't know that they were doing!

Anyways, next month we are aiming to do the Intro A test side saddle and hopefully the Prelim 10 test astride at the April dressage show. Hattie won't be ready to do the Prelim test side saddle but at least with the Intro A walk/trot test, we can get back into showing side saddle again. Our schooling plan now will be to alternate side saddle schooling and astride schooling (still working on our left rein canter which is coming along), the two should be able to help each other!

Good news too, I'm going to start taking side saddle lessons! I've come to a point where I can't progress any further without instruction as I need someone there to make sure I'm doing things correctly and help me with my cantering. I can only afford a lesson once a month but at least with some instruction, it will keep me going in the right direction and hopefully help me in the equitation class at the Side Saddle show in June!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

An 1895 Habit

Had a so-so day schooling Hattie today for the dressage. She was more forward going instead of her usual Ploddy McPlodster self, but did NOT want to go in a nice outline so I guess for now until we get back into regular schooling (and in shape!), I will have to sacrifice a pretty outline for a forward moving horse! Her left lead cantering was better and my lower leg didn't move around so much either but for practicing our test for Sunday...Oy vey!!

LOL, well at least I remembered the tests but the accuracy of the movements, well, the least said, the best. I can only imagine what the judges comments will be on Sunday!

Looking through some past vacation photos on my computer in an attempt to forget such an abysmal schooling session today, I found a photo I took at the McCord Museum in Montreal when I went there on vacation in July 2008.

It's of a c. 1895 side saddle habit that was made from dark navy blue wool and that had it's original matching wool breeches still with it as well. The breeches were plain and straight cut and did not have any knee patches on them.

The photo is a bit grainy as the lighting was low in the gallery so I had to lighten the photo to show the details of the habit. It was the only side saddle habit they had on display (the astride riding outfit behind it was from the 1920's) and I was a bit disappointed that they did not show the habit with the Owen side saddle that they also have in their collection to give it a bit more context to non horsey or non side saddle people. My husband, as a non horse person, even remarked this as well.

I found a scan of a c. 1891 CDV photograph in my antique photo collection of a similar style habit.

The sleeves on the habit the lady is wearing are the typical pointed "kick up" sleeves of the late 1880's- very early 1890's but these would evolve into the large Leg 'O Mutton sleeves seen on the McCord museum habit a couple of years later. The general style and body shape of the bodice and skirt are nearly identical though despite the McCord habit being of Canadian origin and the CDV photo being from Austria!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

What A Week!

I know I haven't posted here in a while but things have gotten very hectic lately that my relaxing things like writing on this blog have been put on hold.

To top it off, my tack room got broken into last Tuesday and although I do not keep anything valuable down at my stable (ESPECIALLY NOT my saddles!!), the thieves along with causing considerable damage to my tackroom door, stole my Charles Owen Pro II silver riding helmet (the one I'm wearing in the photo), my black leather bridle with white diamante trim on the noseband and browband that I use for lunging and my Herm Sprenger KK bit.

Luckily my horses and chickens were not harmed and the idiots ended up dumping my helmet cover and my KK bit near the gate to my neighbour's stables! I'm not too bothered about my bridle as I only paid £5 as it was a used cheap Indian leather bridle but I am annoyed that my helmet is gone as it was my favorite hat and can't afford to replace it with a new one (I'm having to use my velvet show hat now for everything).

Oh well, the tack room door has now been fixed and I hope the thieves get a rash from my helmet (it used to give me rashes!)!!

Looking at the photo of Hattie and I, I realized that it has been exactly one year since I first put my side saddle on Hattie. She never had one on her before and has really taken to it. We've had a bit of a hiatus with side saddling since Christmas due to the bad weather and not being able to ride, but I have decided that we are going to start side saddling again in April and start the season again with doing the Intro A dressage test side saddle.

I have been schooling astride these past few weeks as the weather has gotten better and have started working on her left rein canter. It still needs work but it is getting there. Once it's solid astride, then I will attempt it side saddle. I've got a hard Intro B dressage test this Sunday that we are doing astride. There are lots of bends, stretching, circles in it so this is what we have been working on- that and getting us back into shape for riding again!

So this year we'll keep working on the basics with side saddle (my position and Hattie's way of going) with an aim at doing the Pony Club D dressage test and the Novice Equitation class at the Side Saddle Association Show in June along with astride training with cantering. Hopefully if we really work on the basics this year, we'll start doing some Prelim dressage tests in 2011!