Saturday, 8 January 2011

A Peek at Rotten Row in the Edwardian Era...

Had an "interesting" schooling session today! I REALLY did not feel like riding today due to my stinking cold (and you KNOW I'm poorly when I don't feel like riding!) but only have 8 days till the dressage show on the 16th (omigosh, only 8 days? I thought I still had 2 weeks left!!!) so thought I best get some practice in as I probably get a chance to ride in the week due to work.

Last school term, I was able to get quick rides in the afternoon as my little boy used to go to afterschool club and play golf and basketball. This term, all the school is offering afterschool is Girl's World and football (soccer to those in the US and Canada!). Since my son is neither into Girl's World or football, that is my schooling time screwed for this school term! The government keeps harping on how the UK is becoming a nation of "obesity" (yeah, tell that to my bean pole 10 year old) but then they cancel the sports activities kids want to play.

With that off my chest, back to our schooling...

Well, you know how we get the usual "lacks purpose" and "needs to be ridden more forward" comments on our dressage tests due to Hattie becoming a donkey at shows? I think I found the answer to turning her into a proper "hot blooded" Thoroughbred...sugar beet.

I have been giving her sugar beet in her feed for the past 2 weeks as she was starting to drop weight due to the extreme cold and non existent grass. Hay just wasn't enough to get the weight back on quick, so started giving her the beet. Unfortunately, Hattie does not get on well with sugars so I always have to watch what I feed her. I wanted to get her an unmollassed beet product like Speedi-Beet but when we went to the feed shop on Christmas Eve, all they had left in stock was mollassed sugar beet so got that.

With Hattie pulling a shoe on the day before New Years Eve and me being sick, I've not ridden so only today found out the power of Sugar Beet!

She was dancing around while being tied up, when Josie lead her to the grass to graze for a bit while I tidied up the stables, she galloped off down my friend's driveway pulling the lead out of Josie's hand...Schooling she was VERY forward and had to tell her to "steady on" as she just wanted to go, Go, GO! As we were practising our test, she was bucking and doing little prancey skip/buck things so had to shout at her and tell her to "QUIT IT!" and then we did a nice 20 metre circle with her going forward with soft contact in an outline!

I don't have much of that sugar beet left and don't think I will buy another bag again when it runs out but I'm going to try and make it last for the next 8 days and hopefully we won't get that "lacks purpose" comment! LOL!

The Equxtra saddler came out this afternoon after our "fun filled" schooling session, to reflock my near-side and my off-side side saddles. He had to put quite a bit of flocking in my Manorgrove side saddle as I wasn't able to have him come out for 2 months due to my son being poorly for most of November and then the freeze we had in December. It was DESPERATE for flocking! He put alot at the front as it was dropping down on Hattie's withers and then flocked up under the left thigh and in the middle of my right thigh.

With the way Hattie was behaving today, I didn't trust her to try and canter her in it as she would have bucked me clean out of that saddle due to high spirits but just tested it at the walk and trot with 20 meter circles. It felt good and level and the panels are supportive and firm but I will keep an eye on it and if it needs more, then I will call him next month to come out during the school's half term break to adjust it.

My off-side side saddle was SO FLAT to years of not being reflocked but although the saddler flocked up the panels as much as he could (there was no more stretch in the fabric), it still wasn't as supportive under my right thigh as I need. It's better than it was but not enough so I'm going to have to use a side saddle riser pad with it just to give it that bit of extra boost for me.

I do have a side saddle riser pad but unfortunately, it's now in the clutches of an unscrupulous equestrian company that makes custom made saddle covers and saddle pads here in the UK (it is NOT the trustworthy Mattes company). I placed an order with them in November for two side saddle covers and a bunch of side saddle numnahs and sent them my one so they could make me a reverse one for my off-side side saddle. Well, over a month passes with no communication, them not answering their phone or returning messages and of course, I never received my order. They now refuse to send my numnah back to me and I had to make a claim with Paypal (which I won) for non-receipt of goods. The company never even bothered to respond to the Paypal claim and looking at the Ebay feedback they started to receive right after I placed my order (they sell on their own website and on Ebay), is mostly negative. I will NEVER EVER deal with this company again and have removed any previous mention of them from this blog.

Thanks to these people, I know how to fork out for another riser numnah so that I can use my off-side side saddle to rest my bad hip.

On a positive note, my Manorgrove is all stuffed up and Hattie has new shoes so we are semi ready for our show next Sunday!

I have a stack of antique postcards by my computer here that I keep meaning to file away but they are too nice to keep hidden so scanned two for you all to see.

Both are from the Edwardian era and show riders riding on Rotten Row in Hyde Park, London. this one is postmarked 1908.



A close up of the side saddle riders and you can see the variety of hats they are wearing including boaters, top hats and bowlers.



This is a more famous postcard of Rotten Row. It does not have a postmark as it was never used but it is from the Edwardian era as well.



A close up of the side saddle rider at the front. I wonder what she was looking at? What she was thinking there? I bet she never thought side saddle riders a hundred years later from 2011 would be looking at her photo! I really like the long jacket of her habit.



If I ever get the chance to, I'd LOVE to bring Hattie down to London and ride side saddle in my habit on Rotten Row, it would be AMAZING! There is Hyde Park Stables where you can book a hack around Hyde Park but there doesn't seem to be any side saddle instruction or riding there and as I am now, I'm too "fat" to ride their horses as they have a weight limit so I'd have to bring my own horse!

Fine by me and Hattie! :)

7 comments:

  1. Leila where do you get the riser pads from? Can you buy them on-line? I think I need one for my sidesaddle, so would love to purchase one if you can point me in the right direction. ta :)

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  2. Hi Anita, I got my one from Side Saddles here in the UK:
    http://www.sidesaddles.co.uk/numnahs.htm
    but I'm sure they would post to you if you emailed them for a postage quote.
    It's a nifty pad too as the riser pocket is quite generous so you can really stuff it if your saddle needs a good boost or you can use it as a normal pad without any stuffing in it.

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  3. When we visited London in July I went for a ride in Hyde Park. Rotten Row was very neat, it looks nearly the same as it did except that the trees are much bigger now! I found it to be a bit expensive for what you were allowed to do. And it was VERY busy, there is a lot of people wandering everywhere. I definitely think it would be much more fun if you brought your own horse.
    When we visited Windsor, I found out that you can rent horses and ride through Great Windsor Park and I wish I would have done that. It's an AMAZINGLY beautiful park! Next time! Next time!

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  4. It's too bad I wasn't here during July (I swapped places with you and went to Canada!) as I would have taken the train down to London to meet up :)

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  5. Next time we will definitely make a point of meeting up. I'd love to come visit you in your town too. It's nice to get out and see other places than London!

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  6. I've always been fascinated with Rotten Row; it be have been wonderful to observe during its heyday.
    It would be way cool to get a group of sidesaddle ladies together to go for a hack there.

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  7. I know Robin, that would be wonderful if we could do that! LOL, imagine how many tourists we'd get taking our photos.

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