Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Short Off-Side Flap

Had a so-so schooling session yesterday and today on Hattie...she is very ploddy and does not want to go forward at all. She HATES schooling but unfortunately, the lane is all snowed over with hidden ice underneath so it's not safe to hack out and I don't jump any more so can't break up our flat work sessions with a bit of jumping. I may try putting down some trotting poles on the ground just to make Hattie think she is jumping to get her interested a bit more! We had a shuffling bit of a canter on both reins yesterday..blah..I need lessons again as my riding is ATROCIOUS!!

I took some padding off of the Vetrap queen I made and re-wrapped my fixed head to make it a bit more comfortable. I think it's making my right leg a bit more solid and I was practising keeping my right leg against the saddle which is useful for circles and stopping her from drifting as she can feel the pressure on her left shoulder.

Our next dressage test is on January 16 (all being well with the weather!) so it's the Intro B test that we have been practising. Just to make a bit of a chance, we'll be using my friend's outdoor school tomorrow to practise our test. It's all snowed over and frozen so won't be trotting but we'll walk it instead. It will be good practise to work on the walking elements of the test and work on my position, then afterwards, we are having our Christmas Eve tack room party!

I came across this lovely and unusual side saddle on Ebay yesterday...

The Ebay seller, describes it as being from the early 20th century and made by Whippy & Stegall (which were based at North Audley Street in London and were later bought out by Champion & Wilton in the 1940's).

What is unusual about it, is it's very short off-side flap! You don't see too many side saddles with such a short off-side flap but they seem to have been popular during the 1920's and early 1930's from the few examples I have seen in period photos.

I have a photo showing Mrs. Straker taken in the early 1930's riding in a near identical short flapped side saddle...

They seem to have been made that way to show off a horses' shoulder and had extra long billet straps on the off-side but what would be the point of having such a short off-side flap when the horses shoulder would have been cluttered up with buckles anyways? Strange!


  1. Do you think you can wear riding snowpants in a side saddle? I'm so tempted to look for a side saddle but probably wouldn't use it much until spring. I currently ride in an 18" Prestige dressage saddle by Selleria di Italia. I believe it is 32 cm wide. It used to fit my draft cross but has also fit most of the horses I used to ride at the Park. It fits my current horse, who is a QH. I bet it is way harder to get them over here too.

  2. I reckon its so she is able to adjust her own girth from the off-side. A longer flap often has that little clip on a bit of elastic to hold it down firmly. This shorter flap puts everything in the ladies reach and makes her much more independant.

    Have a good Christmas!!

  3. It looks like having such a short flap serves the same purpose as having an outside girthing system? It makes the girth accessible to be tightened while onboard, but it doesn't have the straps laying over the top of the flap.

  4. Merry Christmas Leila!! I so enjoy your blog.


  5. Merry Christmas to you too Julie!! :)

    Yup guys, I think you may be right about it being easier to girth up! I wonder why though it didn't catch on on later saddles instead of the regular "outside" girthing system?

    Deb, are they the riding snowpants (you know the fleece lined ones with the full seat?), if they aren't too bulky, I don't see why not but if they are regular snowpants (like for normal winter sports), they may be too slippery.

    For seat size, it depends on your thigh length. Even though I'm tall, I ride in saddles for more "average" heights due to my crazy short thigh bone for someone of my height. If you are very short, smaller saddles tend to be harder to find but anyone of average height and above, will be able to find a side saddle to fit.

    For width wise, you'll probably have to order from the US as there tends to be wider saddles there than over here. The Elan side saddle sold by Hundred Oaks comes in a whole bunch of widths to suit wider horses and is good quality for the price. If I didn't find anything for Hattie here, I would have bought from and shipped it over from the US.

  6. When I first saw the listing, I assumed it had been cut down. Studying the photos, I decided it was either original or extremely well done - and more likely the latter the way "repairs" go! Wouldn't that be funny if it actually was Mrs. Straker's saddle? But the curve at the nailheads is different.

    Glad you found a pic, I'd been wondering if I'd have to go searching myself. :)

  7. And I thought my Owen had a small offside flap!
    I prefer the smaller flaps for my purposes because it's so much easier to give specific whip aids, but with that hunt whip it's obvious she's not training canter pirouettes. I wonder if that flap (and subsequent point) makes the saddle easier to fit, and if it affects stability of the saddle. In western saddle design the position of the cinch rings contributes to saddle stability...on horses whose saddles tend to roll lowering the girthing points makes them more secure.