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!


  1. Very well done. I admire your determinatinon to walk 6 miles to show, and you and Hattie look lovely. Wonderful dapples!

  2. The dapples came out wonderfully. You and Hattie both look great.

  3. I'll third that! You guys looked fantastic! I love how that habit looks on you.

  4. Bravo!!! You both look stunning! I laughed when you mentioned getting counted off for "bling"!

  5. Great job. You Hattie looks good. The dapples are extraordinary. Really a good work.

  6. Thank you guys!! :)

    I'm really pleased how shiny and dappley Hattie was that day, even though it was raining! She'll be even shinier for the next show as nearly all of her winter coat is gone now and she was glistening when I brushed her this morning.

  7. Wow, what a lot of work. Last year I didn't even give my horse a bath before we showed. He is bay like Hattie with no white. His coat was naturally shiny, and people were asking me what I did. I was embarrassed to say nothing, just groomed. Of course that standard would NOT do at your shows!!!!