Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Going Backwards?

Sorry for the gap in my posting but I have been so busy with work and just "stuff"! I didn't get to ride much last week and won't be able to ride this week as my son is poorly with a BAD stomach bug. We had to go to the hospital on Monday as he got dehydrated and only got discharged last night! He's slowly on the mend now but I hope no one else gets it as it's a NASTY bug.

I did go on a hack on Saturday and that was, um, "interesting"! I do not know what has gotten into Hattie's head but she was STRONG! We had a little canter on one of the grass verges and she wanted to GO! Then on Sunday we hacked to a local show to watch my friends jump and Hattie was good there, even when one of my friend's horses decided that he didn't want anything to do with the show and high tailed it out of there back home! After the show we decided to go on a hack and just got to the lane when Hattie started doing her prancey-dancey-bucking thing on the spot. Usually I can ride it out but decided to go back home.

I feel like such a wimp now since my accident and feel that my riding has gone WAY downhill. I feel a bit disheartened with my lack of fitness and lack of riding skill at the moment. It also doesn't help that my new saddle desperately needs more flocking added as it has a decided tilt to the right and has gone right down at the front causing it to slide up onto her shoulders (which may have caused the prancey-dancey-bucking thing). I know side saddles are supposed to tilt slightly to the right to compensate for the additional weight caused by both legs on the near side but this is ridiculous. So I'm going to need more flocking under my right thigh.

I keep wanting to corkscrew towards the nearside in my saddle (probably caused by the extreme tilt) so I made myself a new thick queen for the fixed head to help keep myself central until I have the saddler come out to do the flocking.

I'm finding though, that I like a more "over to right" fixed head anyways. I find that alot of side saddles (with the exception of my old Champion and Wilton), have the fixed heads too far over to the left and too much of a curve to them for my liking. I always feel like I have to reach for the pommels which then makes my right hip and right shoulder go too far forward and corkscrews me to the nearside which is NOT what you want!

I could do with a bit more padding at the middle (I'll wrap it some more this weekend) but it's ALOT more comfortable that it was before and helped my position a bit more too.

The extra padding also kind of gives it a quasi "blocked head" shape that the old Champion & Wiltons had at the turn of the century which is also more comfortable for my arthritic knee.

I found some photos on the NEA Side Saddle Association's "Measuring Saddle & Rider" page, showing the different types of fixed pommel sets.

Comparing them to the pommel set photos shown on the NEA Side Saddle Association website, my Manorgrove side saddle has a "wide set" pommel, my off-side side saddle is kind of middling between the "medium" and the "wide" set pommels. My old Champion and Wilton had a position similar upright pommel shown in the last photo (but without the curved top edge jutting out over the thigh) which I found very comfortable. I have to use loads of padding on the Manorgrove and my off-side saddle to get the pommel to the comfy uprightness shown in the last photo. The NEA Side Saddle Association says that the uprightness of this style of pommel "impairs rider's position and comfort" but I don't find so.

Although I'm considered "overweight" by weight charts, my legs fairly toned from riding and riding my bike everyday so I guess I've found out the hard way, that the curve that most fixed pommels have, is not right for me. If I ever get to have another side saddle made, I'm going to have it made with a very upright pommel.

Anyways, back to my rubbish riding skills... I think that once I get my saddle flocked properly, I'm going to have to do baby steps and go back to the basics. When we went back home after the prancey-dancey-bucking episode, we went up to use my friend's outdoor arena to school in so I could get some of Hattie's energy out and would you believe she WOULD NOT canter? Sigh...

It's going to be lots of basic schooling for Hattie AND me like walk/trot transitions so I can work on getting my position back properly and my fitness back and getting Hattie used to side saddle again. For hacking at the moment, until my side saddle is reflocked properly and my position is starting to improve in the school, I'm going to just hack out astride in case Hattie has another episode while out.

When my finances recover, I want to start having side saddle lessons again too to fix any bad habits that I've acquired. It's mind boggling how much my injury knocked me back from winning 1st in equitation to learning how to ride again!! Our baby steps goal, is to do the Intro A dressage test at the end of the month. If the saddles or us are not ready, then I'll do it next month. I'm not going to rush things, riding is supposed to be fun.

Anyways, I'm going to have my local saddle come out to reflock my Manorgrove as he knows side saddles and he always does an excellent job (and he's only 10 minutes away). While he's here, I'm going to have my off-side side saddle done as well as that desperately needs reflocking as well. It's ok at the front but I'm having to use a riser pad at the back but the only problem is, I have to use a normal nearside side saddle pad which of course, doesn't fit an off-side one properly! I'm going to see if he can't do something about the sensitive Mayhew fitting that my Manorgrove has as it took me three attempts to get on with a mounting block without having that darn stirrup leather fly off the bar!! Give me a nice Champion & Wilton fitting any day.


  1. It's a pain getting back in shape but you will. Just take it slow and before you know it you'll be back in shape. I think you lose it fast but you gain it fast too.

  2. That's weird about your mayhew stirrup fitting coming off so easily? Mine takes a LOT to come open.

    I'm the same way with my upright head, I had to put all kinds of padding on it to make it more comfortable and prevent the "twist" from happening. It's much better now that I've done that.

    Never fear! You'll get it all back and then some! I think our bodies are naturally more cautious after an accident so we're careful for awhile. Just keep at it and you'll be doing great in no time!

  3. Forgot to add one thing about the fitting & mounting. I always climb up on a fence or something tall so I'm pretty much level with the saddle to mount. That way I don't put nearly as much pressure on the stirrup mechanism or pull the saddle sideways. I know a few ladies that will get their horse really close to the fence so they can literally just plop themselves on the saddle sideways and not use the stirrup to mount at all. (my horse doesn't stand quietly enough for this though! lol)
    Maybe give one of those a try?

  4. It's so annoying though as I never get to ride now to build up my fitness except for one or two days in the week when Jake has afterschool club and at the weekends. And with Jake being sick this week, that is another week of not riding. Roll on summer when the days are longer!

    I called Laura Dempsey to see how much it would be to change my stirrup fitting, just waiting for her to call me back. I do use a mounting block to get on but even then, the stirrup leather still flies off. I do need to get a taller one though as my friend doesn't want anyone climbing on her arena fence and if I go out on hacks, I need to have something outside my ancient gate so I can lock it before setting out.

    I was looking at it and it kind of drops down off of the little knobbly button thing before folding outwards. The Mayhew that I got from the auction, just folds outwards without dropping down off the little nobby button. It's like the safety bar is kind of bent downwards and not from my weight of getting on but it was like that from day one. It's the downwards drop as it unhooks off the nobby buttons that causes my stirrup leather to fly off.

    It's done it twice on hacks when I've just been walking and trotting. Goodness help me if I were cantering!