Saturday, 29 January 2011

Off-Siding is the Way Forward!

I took Robin's advice and swapped to another side saddle to ride until Roger, my saddler, can come out and give me an honest opinion on my near-side saddle. The only other one I have (other than my close contact jumping saddle which buggers up my back and hip riding in it and my too-small-for-me off-side saddle), is my Beck Morrow off-side side saddle so used that to school and hack out today.

I didn't want to ride it too "hard" until Roger can put new billet straps on but we schooled for 30 minutes today and then hacked down the lane doing mostly walking and some trotting. It was hard to resist the urge to canter on the grassy bits but I didn't want billets popping at a fast pace in an unenclosed area!!

We walked around a bit for me to get used to off-siding, then practised making Hattie walking and trotting forward, walk/trot transitions and ran through the Intro A test (which wasn't so good, LOL!). Our left rein cantering was iffy so I think I need to work on that with Lili but I managed to get a few strides out of Hattie on the left rein and then I thought, "well, if Hattie is going to go back into a trot, then it better be a damn good transition" so made her keep trotting until I was ready to walk and did a smooth trot to walk transition.

We had a good canter on the right rein though so that was fun!

Thank you Anita for her tip on using foam rubber bed roll as saddle shims! Since my Beck Morrow needs lifting a bit at the back and under the right thigh, I cut out four pieces of bed roll to out inside the pocket of my side saddle riser numnah and it worked a treat! The trick is "close celled" foam (like what Wintec uses for their riser pads and what bed roll is made from) instead of "open cell" foam (like what those old "Lollipop" or "Banjo" riser pads that everybody used to use in the late 80's and early 90's, are made from) as it supportive yet not to hard.

I REALLY like my off-side Beck Morrow, it was nice not having to battle the saddle today with it rolling around but it did slide forward a bit onto her shoulders (when we were cantering so had to get off to push it back each time we cantered on a different rein) but the panels need doing on it to fit Hattie better. The billet straps on the Beck morrow aren't as forward placed as they are on my other off-side side saddle (but not as bad as they were on my old C&W) so when Roger comes, I'm going to ask him if he can add another billet between the point and 1st strap on the near-side and another between point and 1st on the off-side as there is space. This will help to keep my saddle from sliding forward as Hattie has a very forward girth groove.

My saddle was comfortable and riding side saddle felt less of a struggle. It was easier to get my left shoulder back when riding off-side than getting my right shoulder back on a near-side saddle. My good left hip was happy to ride and my back right hip was happy to rest. I think off-siding is the way forward for me, I prefer it.

I took some before and after photos of the Beck Morrow to check fit with the riser numnah...

Before view of the nearside with the riser numnah newly in place:

After schooling and hacking and it sits more level (note that the saddle didn't slide forward during our hack when we were only walking and trotting):

Before off-side view:

After off-side view (the saddle pad slide back a bit):

Before cantle view showing a good tilt to the saddle (Hattie was standing a bit crooked trying to get into the tack room to eat, but the gullet did line up with her spine):

After view of the cantle and as you can see, the closed cell foam bed roll in the pad gave good support:

These are before photos of the pommel clearance on Hattie's withers but unfortunately my stupid camera ran out of memory so I could take after photos but even when mounted, the pommel clearance stayed the same and no saddle rolling occurred at the side of Hattie's withers as well. There were no ruffled fur patches at her withers when I took the saddle off like there was with my Manorgrove.

You can see daylight out of the back and it was the same when I finished riding. you can get about 2 or 2 1/2 fingers between the pommel and withers when mounted or unmounted. The felt inside the panels seems to be agreeable with Hattie just like my felt Wykham pad was on my C&W.

If I am going to ride in the Beck Morrow regularly, then it is worth restoring. The leaping head is a bit too curved for my thigh so I need to get that hammered out a little straighter- not too much but just enough to take the edge out of the curliness of it. Until then, I'm going to use a rubber martingale stopper to left the head up a bit but at the same time, stop it from twirling around. It needs new billet straps without questions (first and foremost!). The panels need major refurbishment as the leather panels, although soft and oiled, have become fragile over the years. I will see what Roger says. Maybe I'll splurge and get a Wykham pad put on, we'll see though.

If cut off the darn overgirth straps today as well. I HATE overgirths as they rub Hattie and they are a pain in the butt to faff about with. The one on the Beck Morrow was one of those REALLY OLD FASHIONED ones without a convenience tab which requires a groom to help you girth up. Fine if you have help but when I school, I'm mostly on my own so off it went. The stitches were rotting anyways so I just sliced off the thread with a knife without damage to the flaps, fancy stitching or overgirth. I saved the overgirth incase I ever sell the saddle and someone wants them (they could be out back on easy) but until then, the saddle is fine without them. The flaps weren't flapping up and down anyways during my ride today and it's not as if I'm going to be hunting and jumping with it.

It was a cold but nice day to hack out after schooling and we went down to the ford river to ride through it.

Hattie and Chance like going trough it and Hattie seems to like the taste of river water! She always stops for a big drink of it. I've never known a horse to stick most of their face in water though like she does!!

Hattie was going in a nice outline with a nice sift contact all through our hack and walking nice and forward, let's hope she keeps it that way for our test on the 20th!!

She did become a bit silly and strong on the way home as she knew a romp in the paddock was waiting for her when she got back.

What a good girl today!


  1. Sounds like you are on to a solution with your off-side and glad the bedroll tip worked. Do you ride solely sidesaddle? Just curious as I am thinking of "giving up" astride (my arthritic hips hate astride anyway) and riding only sidesaddle, I just need my regular dressage instructor to get her head around the idea LOL

    Great that you had a fantastic hack out today. We have a river not far from us, its dry over summer and I can't wait til winter now, when it will be flowing, as I want to take Molly down there for a play like you do with Hattie :)

  2. I only ride side saddle now but I do ride astride if I *have to* like if my side saddle(s) go to the saddler or if we are hacking somewhere far and/or unknown just incase there are gates to open, etc.