Monday, 30 May 2011

We jumped!

Well, sort of...trotted over some little 1' fences yesterday! And I didn't come off!



Never ask a teenager to take your photo as you just end up getting your head chopped off and getting it taken too late. Well, this photo (minus my helmet) shows us just after we jumped but at least it shows me still in the saddle and not on the floor with a broken rib, LOL!

My Whippy is REALLY secure to jump in (well, to do anything in for that matter!) and I really regret not looking for a Whippy a long time ago for Hattie as this saddle does not move on her and gives me a really secure position.

We had some good riding this weekend, did some schooling 20- 30 minute on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but she was SO lazy on Sunday due to being in season and kept wanting to go to the fence to show Jacob her bum and pee. I REALLY had to get after her yesterday and growled and drove her forward with my seat like a cowboy riding hell for leather as she did not want to go away from Jacob!!

After schooling, we went on a hack and she was more forward then and we cantered along the grass verges and were jumping the little drain ditches at the canter that run across the verge. That was fun and it was doing that which gave me the "jumping bug" to try some diddy fences when we got home. I may start incorporating tiny jumps and more trotting poles into our schooling again but nothing higher than 1' at the moment and then maybe 1'6" when we get into our groove again after being out of work for so long.

My new three fold girth from Robert Jenkins came on Saturday as well and it's beautiful! I had him make me a size 52 1/2" and it fits Hattie really well. I really rate Robert Jenkin's girth as they are so soft and well made, they never give Hattie rubs either.

Hattie modelling her new girth after schooling on Saturday...



Her bump has really gone down as well and I don't need to use a pad underneath her saddle either now, it's just a scab or callous under the hair which is peeling off slowly. I still put the creme on however, to keep down any left over swelling (so far there has been none anyways) and to keep the scab soft so that it peels off. You can see in the photo (I circled it to show where it is/was) that it doesn't touch the panel of the saddle.



The one and only Hattie!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

An 1870's Riding Corset

Julie, a fellow blogger who runs the the fabulous Riding Aside blog will be doing an entry on riding corsets this week and coincidently after speaking with my side saddle instructor, Lili Brooksby, about riding in a corset yesterday, I thought I'd share a riding corset that I had in my antique corset collection...




"c.1878-1880. A black sateen corset altered for riding. Although specially made riding corsets were available all through the 19th century, they were very expensive. Less wealthy or spendthrift women often had old, broken in corsets cut down and remade into comfortable riding corsets.



Originally, this corset would have had a deep, curved abdomen and came well over the hips keeping it in style with late 19th century corsetry. To renovate it into a riding corset, the front and back was cut away and the hips completely cut away to allow for the correct sidesaddle position and leg movement during riding. The side steels were removed completely when the hips were cut away and the busk was cut shorter for comfort during riding.



The corset is boned with watchspring and is lined in white cotton. Diamond patterned yellow flossing decorates and reinforces the bone casings on the flared bust line.

Measurements: Bust 37", Waist 28", Busk length (as it is now), 10"."


Not mant people know that in 2006- 2007, that I had to wear a corset everyday due to a prolapsed disc (L5/S1) in my lower back. I didn't wear a medical corset (which tend not to fit as they are designed for men with no hips) but instead wore a Victorian reproduction corset made by my friend Melanie Talkington of Lace Embrace Atelier.

I mucked out, rode, did housework, everything in my corset painfree! The corset supported my body and let my discs heal without stress and prevented me from overexerting myself by accident.

Although I don't need to wear a corset everyday now, I still wear them occasionally when my back flares up to let my discs settle down.

I never rode in my antique 1870's riding corset as I do not believe in wearing antique corsets due to their age, rarity and fragility, I did try it on and it was VERY comfortable!

Friday, 27 May 2011

We Have Our Work Cut Out For Us!

Eeeek!!!!

Our next show is next Sunday and Hattie and I certainly have out work cut out for us!

We were supposed to go to the Burbage Show (the one that is 10 miles away) but my friend Gill, saw a poster at the feed store for another show, The Mulberry & Zenith Fun Charity Horse & Dog Show which MUCH closer so we decided to go to that next Sunday instead (the Burbage show is on twice a month anyways so we can always go later on in the month).

I'm going to take Hattie in "Tack & Turnout", "Style & Appearance" (both are ridden classes) and then in "Best Condition", "Best Handler" and the "Horse/Pony The Judge Would Most Like To Take Home" in- hand classes. I'll ride side saddle in the ridden classes and was hoping to the "Riding Club Horse & Pony" class but there are two jumps in it and after our little schooling session today, I don't think we will be ready in time. "Style & Appearance" is like "Tack & Turnout" where your turnout is judged but you are also judged on your riding as well and have to do walk/trot/canter plus an individual show.

I schooled Hattie for about half and hour today (walk/trot/canter) and it was "interesting". Although we've been hacking out and schooling bareback for the past month and started hacking out side saddle earlier this week, I could tell that Hattie and I have lost our side saddle fitness while schooling! The last time we schooled side saddle was early February and I felt very stiff on my right side and well, Hattie was stiff on both reins.

I've been suffering bad over the past month with my arthritis in both my knees and in my right hip. The bareback riding helps it ALOT but while side saddling today, I could feel my whole right side stiffen up. Riding on the left rein was even worse as my stiff right side caused my left heel to come up and I was bouncing around. I really need my off-side side saddle at times like these but it's still at the saddler's getting restored as I wasn't able to have Roger come out while Hattie's bump was huge.

Because Hattie has been out of work so long too, she was a bit stiff and gave two almighty bucks while cantering (I love my Whippy, you just don't move in that saddle!!!!) but then settled down after.

I think with my arthritic stiffness and Hattie's lack of fitness stiff, I think LOTS of stretching for me before riding and lots of walking warm up for Hattie plus short 20-30 minute schooling sessions everyday (and bareback hacking!) is the order for the week to prepare us for the show on Sunday and for the rest of the month for the other shows.

Hattie's bump is nearly gone now, I don't even think there is a bump now but it feels just to be a hard pile of dead skin (like a callous) waiting to peel off. I tried peeling off a tiny edge but it's not ready to come off yet so I left it but am continuing to put the cream on it. I'll see how it goes and maybe I'll have Roger come out with my off-side side saddle to finish fixing it as my poor body needs it.

Hoping to find another off-side side saddle to use as a "spare" while my Beck Morrow is away getting restored, I came across this one on Ebay the other week. The seat was way too small for me (16 1/4" UK measurements) and the tree VERY narrow, even for high withered Hattie so I didn't bother bidding.

It had a "Bartley Bros & Hall Saddlers 20 Portman Street Portman Square London New York" metal plate on the nearside tree point and a roller bar stirrup fitting.





A nice upright head which I find comfy too!



Well, although I didn't buy another side saddle, I had to order a new three fold girth from Robert Jenkins as my 51" Owen 3 buckle girth is currently too short for Hattie and my 54 1/2" that I bought from Robert Jenkins 2 years ago, is a tad too long (I can buckle it on the top hole on each side of my saddle) so I ordered a nice wide 52 1/2" girth. Now Hattie has a girth for every season weight gain/loss!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Side Saddle at the Diamond Horse Show

Woke up at 4:30 and left out at 6:25 from the stables to walk (not hack!) the 6 miles to the Diamond Horse Show where we came 1st in the Tack & Turnout class, 2nd in Best Condition and 3rd in Prettiest Mare (we had stiff competition from cute lil ponies in that class!).

I decided to walk to the show and lead Hattie as my new astride saddle hadn't arrived yet and I wasn't too sure how Hattie's bump would be with the side saddle over such a long way. I wasn't familiar with the route either to ride bareback but on the way home we ended up riding bareback and Hattie still had loads of energy left at the end of the day! As it turns out, my Whippy was fine and came no where near her bump thanks to my saddler's excellent unflocking skills.

I really enjoyed showing, it made a welcome change from dressage and it was nice just showing without having to worry about doing perfect 20 metre circles or a straight center line. I think I actually prefer showing to dressage as I like making us look pretty and Hattie is like a big Barbie horse that I can brush and brush to make look nice.

The Tack & Turnout class was hard work though, it took me two days to scrub up my saddle as the linen had to be clean and I don't like using tennis show whitener on saddles, I like them to be white through my own elbow grease.

My saddle drying in the window after being scrubbed...


In T&T, the judge inspects all your tack to make sure there is no soap residue in the holes, that your keepers on your bridle are lined up evenly, they even check your gloves and the bottoms of your boots and stirrups for any dirt! Basically, you have to look like you just stepped out of your Rolls Royce and had a groom help you up onto your horse! Even the soles of your horses hooves must be oiled as well.

The judge looking at my soles and stirrup for cleanliness!


I guess T&T in the UK is similar to Appointment classes in the US but the only difference is that sandwich cases and rain gloves aren't used over here unless you are actually on the hunt field hunting.

The judge was pleased with my turnout and asked if I rode at county level!! She said the only thing to correct my turnout was no bling on my spur strap (I had on my pink diamante studded spur strap) and to wear a hairnet. I was actually going to wear a hairnet but it was raining and windy and I couldn't get the darn thing on my head due to the wind so just tucked up my hair into my helmet as best I could.

The stupid wind kept blowing the apron over the toe of my right boot so that was a bit annoying but looking on the internet for tips on how the top county level showing people turn out their horses and going to the Burbage show to watch how the pros do it, really paid off. One tip was to use Absorbine Supershine hoof polish first on your horses hooves and then put hoof oil over that right before you go in for a hi-gloss shine! LOL, I'm not a county level competitor, I may as well look like one!

The class walking around for a final time while the judge decides how to place everyone...


Awarding the rosettes...


I got a red 1st place!


My husband didn't realize I had the Best Condition class after T&T, so he went back to the car to sit out the rain so he didn't get to take any photos but the show photographer took some of Hattie of which I will be ordering, but in the mean time, they can be seen on their website. I'm the only one in a side saddle habit so Hattie and I won't be hard to miss!

We came 2nd to a lovely black and white Gypsy Cob mare. The judged asked how old Hattie was (she's 15) and remarked how in good condition she is. It was tough running around the field in the rain, wearing a wool skirt. I got some cat call whistles as I was running, LOL!

I wanted to keep things simple and low key since I hadn't ridden Hattie in a saddle for 2 1/2 months so we skipped the Riding Club Horse class which required w/t/c, an individual show and a jump (we'll probably do that next month all being well!) so our last class was a fun showing class called Prettiest Mare.

Us waiting for the class to start. I know Hattie is a bit overbent in the photo but she was being a real pain in the butt on Sunday as she is in season and kept wanting to show Jacob her bum! When we got to the monring, after we tacked up and I got on, she kept wanting to go back to Jacob, swing her bum to him and buck when I wouldn't let her. Thank goodness my Whippy keeps me in a solid position! The only way I can keep Hattie from blowing her mind when she gets like this is ride her forward on the bit but sometimes when she is in the wappy mood like she was on Sunday, she overbends herself (I keep a soft contact on the rein when she does this so she can bring her head back up when she wants to) but bizarrely, it keeps her calm as she chomps her bit!



Lining up to see who will be the Prettiest Mare, in the end the little grey Shetland won it...


It wasn't all horses though, there was a dog show going on at the same time and my son took our dog, Pepper in and won 6th for Prettiest Bitch and 1st in the Fancy Dress class!



Hattie chilling out waiting to be untacked before the 6 mile walk back home.


All in all, it was a good day and we had quite a few people come up to us and ask about our saddle and how is it like to ride side saddle, etc, so hopefully even though we were the only aside rider there, it will have sparked some more interest in side saddle riding and we'll see more aside riders at the show in the future!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Lots to Catch Up On!

I've been mega busy over the past month and haven't had time to blog so decided to sit down today and do it after just spending 45 minutes pulling Hattie's mane!



Got my Whippy side saddle back during the Easter holiday time and am so pleased with the work my saddler did replacing all the billets. Roger always does an excellent job and managed to move them a bit more forward for Hattie as well. He also reinforced the old linen that they are stitched onto with a nylon backing for extra strength. Here are the photos of Roger's excellent work..





The cortisone injection that Hattie had last month, seemed to have taken the bump down in size but there was still a bump there but just smaller. I continued using the Arnica cream but to be honest, sometimes you just need pharmaceuticals instead of natural remedies to get the job done! I knew the bump was a Hygroma (thanks for clearing that up for me Robin!) and Googled that and found out that it is also Bursitis which people get in their knees from kneeling on the floor doing housework, gardening, etc. This is the same thing as capped hock which the vet said it was, but "just in a weird place". So I thought to myself, "how would you treat this in a person?" and found that treatment in humans is the same for horses, a cortisone injection and that you can also use Difflam cream (benzydamine hydrochloride) to treat it as it is an anti-inflammatory.

Unfortunately, finding a UK online pharmacy that sold it without a prescription was hard but I managed to acquire two tubes of it and have been using it for the past 5 days and the bump has gone right down and is more of a flat underskin bump thingey now. I am amazed how quickly it started to work and Hattie falls asleep when I massage it in. One of the side affects I read about was a rash and photo sensitivity in the area where it is applied but so far no rash but I have been keeping a light weight summer sheet or a fly rug on to protect it against the sun, mutual grooming from Jacob (it says do not ingest) and bugs biting it.

I have to apply it 3 times a day for 10 days (this is the directions for humans) and then I will reassess and see if I need to use the 2nd tube after a short break as a horse may need a longer course due to their size but so far, so good. I really wish I would have been better at math and science to have become a vet like I so wanted to as a kid!

These photos were taken on April 22, a few days after the vet came out and the day I got my Whippy back from Roger as I wanted to keep a record of how the bump went down and the fit of my side saddle on the bump. The photos were taken before I stared using the Difflam cream.



April 22 bump (I circled how wide it was):




You can see a small spot on the numnah where her bump rubbed against it...



I also found out that the tack shop ordered my new astride saddle at the end of April as they were waiting for 5 more people to order their saddles too (VERY ANNOYING as I paid for my saddle a month before and stated that I needed it for May) so haven't had a saddle to ride in. I took up bareback riding for the first time in my life and have been enjoying it! It means that at least Hattie and I can hack out and take a break from boring lunge work until her bump goes away and my new astride saddle comes. We even had a canter out too!

Fed up with the South Kilworth Riding Club moving their show far, far away, I did some more Googling to see if there were any other riding clubs in South Leicestershire that were within hacking distance and came across the Burbage Riding Club! I hadn't even known this club existed and it's the same distance (10 miles) to hack to their shows which we were originally going to hack to the South Kilworth show! Infact, the hacking to the Burbage show is safer as it's all residential country roads or rural lanes unlike the busy A-road we would have had to ridden along to get to the South Kilworth show.

Excited about the prospect of showing at the Burbage show, I emailed the organizers to see if riding side saddle was permitted. For those of you who read the Tack Tack of the Day blog, you will know of the discrimination that Jessica is receiving from the Arkansas Gaited Horse Show Association with regards to riding side saddle. There doesn't seem to be such discrimination towards riding aside here in the UK like there seems to be in other countries like the US or New Zealand, infact, I can only think of British Eventing that forbids the use of a side saddle but just wanted to email the Burbage Riding Club to make sure it was ok to ride aside. I received an email back saying that the committee was in favour of it and that they hoped to see more side saddle riding there!

We'll be going to the June 5 show all being well and hope to show side saddle in the "Best Turned Out", "Style and Appearance" and "Best Senior Rider" classes as well the "Best Condition" inhand class. So that I would know what to expect in these classes, we went to their show last Sunday to get an idea on what tack/clothing people and horses are wearing, what to do, etc. I got the show schedule, the list of club rules and turnout and tack guidelines. It says for Best Turned Out class that you need a blue helmet (mine is black) with a blue jacket (my habit is blue so that is fine) and that there is extra points for quarter marks on your horse.

So over the week, I've been practising my quarter marks....


and managed to find a 2nd hand blue velvet Charles Owen for £20 out of a local horse magazine! The lady that owned it used it for showing and it has never been in a accident or dropped, she was only selling it as she bought a new Patey hat!!

This Sunday is the Diamond Horse Show which is only 6 miles away so I'll probably lead Hattie there and ride bareback some of the way on quiet roads. My husband will meet us there with all my show stuff (including my "new" helmet!), grooming stuff and tack but I will plait up at home. We'll be doing the "Best Turned Out", "Veteran" (need to check to see if Hattie is old enough for it, I think the cut off age is 15 years) and "Prettiest Mare" classes riding side saddle and the "Best Condition" class which is inhand. I also emailed the Diamond show organizer to see if side saddle was permitted and it's fine!

With all these inhand classes Hattie and I will be doing, I thought "when in Rome..." and got myself a proper leather show lead with brass chain which is what I saw people using at the Burbage show for the inhand classes. It looks neater than holding a pair of reins and is more convenient.



When the vet came out last month to inject Hattie's bump, he said that I could start riding her and bringing her back into work slowly as long as the saddle did not touch that area. Since I do not have my new hi-wither astride saddle yet and my Whippy is heavily flocked up, I couldn't ride her with a saddle due to her bump still being largish (another reason why I didn't go to the last Burbage show). Since seeing the noticeable improvement with the Difflam creme over the week, I had Roger Whitehead, my saddler, have another look at my Whippy on Hattie to see if there was anything he could do to the panels so that we could at least do those few easy classes (they are all walk/trot only) at the Diamond show on Sunday.

Roger said that he could take out some flocking at the spot where her bump was and to cut a portion out of one of my fleece side saddle numnahs at that spot so that the rest of the numnah lifted up my saddle a bit and took the pressure off of the bump. He did this and I got my saddle back yesterday again and it seems as if the plan will work!



I had a ride in the field in it yesterday and the panel does not touch her "flat bump" and even when I put my fingers in that spot when riding, there is no pinching or pressure. Roger said that eventually, the flocking will migrate up but to keep an eye on it and it will help to harden her up gradually in that area.

I won't do any long distance hacking it it just yet but will be ok for bringing her back into work slowly and for the easy horse show classes at the moment. It hurt me to cut my numnah though!!

It's not all bad though as I also saved up and bought us a lovely tall mounting block which is handy for playing on (as you can tell by the child & dog!) and for getting on a side saddle! All I do is step onto the top step, swing me leg over and I'm in the Whippy. Best money I ever spent and my hip thanks me too. Yes, before you ask, there IS a Stargate on them!