Thursday, 30 June 2011

Guess What Came in the Mail?

A side saddle surcingle from The Side Saddlery!

It dates from the late 19th century and is a neat Western style one with a basket weave pattern purse on the off-side and ornate tooling all around the edges. Linda Flemmer put new latigos on it as they were missing and found me a BEAUTIFUL Jose Ortiz mohair cinch to go with it (which I have to practice cinching up!).

Looking at the construction of it, I'm not sure how the pommels are actually attached to the surcingle. Looking at Nick Creaton's surcingle, the pommels seem to be attached to some sort of tree inside the surcingle but the ones on my one, don't seem to be attached onto anything stiff like metal. I'm not even sure if the pommels have metal inside them or if they are built on layers of stiff leather? They are placed very close together, touching each other and with the leaping head curved so that it touches the fixed head, seems to give it support.

The fixed head isn't as straight up or over to the right as the fixed head is on a normal saddle, this one is very curved seems to just act as a "leg rest" or either that, was made for a lady with a thigh ALOT bigger than mine. Somehow though, I think it was merely meant to act as a leg rest. With the fixed head being moreover to the left than the placement on an actual side saddle, you cannot get a true square seat like you can on a saddle. To be honest, I think it would be impossible to get a square seat sitting aside bareback as there is nothing to support your left butt cheek and thigh (you would have to defy the laws of gravity!). You can physically only sit with both seat bones on the horses back with your right hip slightly more forward than normal so that there is something to support your left thigh if that makes sense?

You can see in the photos that my right hip is slightly more forward than normal but that my right shoulder still is way back. I really had to concentrate on "right shoulder back" and keep it WAY back to keep me as square and secure on the horse as possible. This is why found the genteel little hand hold on the off-side a bit puzzling as grabbing this would make your right shoulder go way forward and cause you to go off balance. It's much easier just to keep your right shoulder WAY back than to mess about grabbing a handle so far forward.

It's all these things put together that make me think that this particular surcingle wasn't made for circus use but purely for pleasure riding, at a walk. Probably a farmer's wife or daughter owned this to ride the family horse around the farm, down to the creek on a hot summer's day, ride to the general store to get some candy, etc. Just general messing about for fun. I don't think the construction of the pommels would have been able to handle any strenuous circus work like trick rearing, etc but just low key riding. A farmer's wife or daughter probably wouldn't have had the best equitation, probably just learned to get on a horse and go which may explain the grab handle on the off-side as she may not have realized to "keep your right shoulder back"!!

I'm really pleased with it however, and it's just the sort of tool I can use for practising to have a secure seat. I can practise walking dressage tests in it while remembering to sit up straight, keep my rib (and core muscles up) and my right shoulder back as these are the only things that hold you on when riding in this surcingle!

I tried it on Hattie first and I think I'm going to have to use a wither pad on her as she has high withers and it comes down on them.

It was weird sitting aside on her with no saddle as she has a typical Thoroughbred sticky up spine but I could feel where my seat bones were on here and feeling her spine, made me remember to stay as centered as possible on her compared to riding Jacob in it which is just like sitting on a comfy couch as he's so fat!

I definitely have a better position on Hattie than Jacob...

I only walked a few steps with Hattie but she "got it" straight away. Jacob kicked her on Sunday in the evening after the show and her leg swelled up where he kicked it so she has been on rest all week. The vet came out today to have a look and he said it's healing really well and he doesn't need to do anything to it and I can start riding her next week when the last bit of swelling is gone (nearly gone now).

The surcingle fitted Jacob better in the withers but although he is comfortable to ride, the surcingle started to roll to the left as he is so round with no withers to keep anything in place. Despite only have been ridden twice side saddle, in March, he started to get it as well.

Better fit in the withers...

But he's so rolly!!

The saddle starting to roll on fat Jacob...

I had a closer look at the construction and I'm going to send it to my saddler, Roger (the one who is working on my off-side side saddle), to restore. It has a large metal ring with a small flap underneath it to protect the horse, on the offside and just a little D-ring on the near side. Linda attached the nearside latigo to the little D-ring as there was nothing else to attach it to but upon closer inspection, the D-ring is actually for a stirrup and you can just see the remains of a small leather flap where a large metal ring was underneath. This must of where the original latigo attached to but the ring and leather flap broke off years ago. I reckon Roger will be able to fix this no problem.I'm also going to have him check the leather and stitching on the off-side metal loop and put a new leather onto the stirrup D-ring as the original is cracking.

The good thing too is that the surcingle fits in my back pack!!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Online Horse Show Side Saddle Class

How would you all feel about a side saddle class in an online horse show?

The organizers of Horse Shows Online have asked if anyone has any suggestions of classes they could add in future shows and I suggested a side saddle class. They said that they would love to offer a side saddle class but didn't think too many people rode side saddle and if there would be enough interest in it.

I said that I would put a post on my blog and find out!

Although it is a UK website, they do allow people from other countries to enter but they mentioned to me that international competitors would have to pay a slightly higher entry fee to cover the postage to send any rosettes by airmail. All you need is a nice photo and a Paypal account. The photo doesn't even need to be taken at a show so even those that are unable to attend real horse shows for whatever reason, can enter. Just turn you and your horse out to the 9's, take a snap and email it!

So how about it? If everyone could let me know what they think so I can get back to the organizers with approximate numbers, that would be great.

*SOLD* 17 1/4" (21 1/2" US) Medium Fit Mayhew Lissadell For Sale

On it's way to it's lovely new home in Michigan with Jeanne!

For sale is my lovely Mayhew Lissadell side saddle. It has a 17 1/4" seat from cutback to cantle (or 21 1/2" from front of fixed head to cantle) and is about 13 1/2" wide across the seat (VERY comfy!). Doeskin pommels and pigskin seat with a Mayhew stirrup safety bar. It is a good solid medium fit as it fits my Thoroughbred mare who has a bit of bone and carries some weight and who usually takes a medium in normal saddles. Will not fit a round no withered cob type.
Mayhew Lissadells are desirable saddles as they were built for hunting. The date on mine is from 1905. I was going to use mine for dressage as it puts me in a nice seat for equitation.

I was going to save up and get this saddle refurbished in the autumn as it fits my mare really well and fits my rather large bottom well but I am facing possibility of a large vet bill due to my mare's evil pony field mate kicking her in the hind leg. Also, I can't justify having two side saddles when I have one riding horse!

The saddle needs all new girth straps (this goes without saying for any used side saddle), the panels need new linen placed over the old moth eaten serge and the tip of the nearside tree point needs building up against as the edge has chipped off. My saddler, Leo Wright Saddlery, says that this is common with the long nearside tree points and that he is able to fix this (and everything else, no problem). Leo does excellent work and can fix anything on a side saddle for reasonable prices, I was going to have him do the work on this. Saddles can be posted to him as well for repair. The saddle will also need to be reflocked for your own horse (again, this is the same for any side saddle).

I am asking £650. The saddle can be seen or tried here in South Leicestershire. I can also ship anywhere at cost.

You can email me at crinolinegirl @ (please remove the space before and after the @ symbol).

*SADDLE FOUND* 16" (UK measurement) Wide Fit Side Saddle Wanted

Can you help Ceri, a fellow side saddle rider out?

Side saddle wanted: Any make, 16" seat, wide fit.
To go on a 14.3 Welsh cross with a table back and low withers. Could probably get
away with 15.5" seat but no longer than 16" as horse's back not long enough.
I am 5'3" and a dress size 10-12. At present I have a 16" Champion & Wilton on hire which I can't have altered enough to fit my mare properly.

She has a small hollow in her left shoulder which although its never done either
of us any harm, causes every saddle she has ever worn to slip slightly left,
that's ok astride but not side saddle so I have decided I need to invest in
buying one that I can have fully altered to fit her properly.

Cheri is in the UK, her email address is: cericroot @ (take the space out before and after the @ symbol). If anyone knows of any side saddle or has one for sale, then please could you get into contact with her.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Dressage in the Heat!

On Saturday, it was jumping in the rain. On Sunday, it was dressage in the heat -just shows how unpredictable British weather can be! Our test was at 9:35 am and already by that time I was melting in my medium weight wool navy habit. I was glad that I didn't have my heavy weight black habit any more or else I would have been a puddle on the floor. Jackets were waived after but I couldn't have shown without a jacket as I was wearing my pink show shirt underneath my habit!!

I decided not to jump Hattie as part of the warm up in my friend's school but instead go straight to the show and warm up in the semi cool indoor school there. We did lots of walking and circles to help loosen her up, transitions and cantering to wake Hattie up and she went really well!

Call me strange, but I find it also helps if I talk to Hattie before a show and then before a class and tell her what we need to do, how were going to do it and if we're feeling cocky, that we want to win, then she always does it. If I forget to talk to her, then we always do poorly so now I've gotten into the habit of talking to Hattie before we school at home what we need to do, our goals and why, etc and we always do better.

I'm not professing to be some sort of horse whisperer and I'm not really into New Age Horsemanship (although some horses probably need it so it has it's place) but it just seems more than coincidence that we do crap when no talking happens and then win or do very well when I do talk to Hattie so now I always do it and so far, so good. Hattie seems to like being spoken to as well as her eyes close and she drifts off - either that or she finds me boring, lol.

Maybe Hattie is just some weird horse that understands the English language or maybe it's good for my brain to put me in the "zone" with riding but talking to each works for both of us! It's a natural aid and beats whips and spurs so why not?!

Hattie before our class waiting to go in...

Any ways, I spoke to Hattie before we schooled and before our class (and I told her that we want to win today as there was some stiff competition from some seriously nice moving horses) and guess what? We won!! 65.22%, probably the highest score in stressage we've ever had!!

Hattie was brilliant today and most of our marks were 6's, 7's and 8's. We got our only 5 as our center line at the end was wobbly, Hattie slipped on some worn away arena surface which wasn't really her fault. The judge wrote "A nice change to see a side saddle test." but said "Be careful not to use your voice as this is not allowed." All I did really was tell Hattie that she was a good girl as she was, well, being good during the entire test but didn't think I was speaking very loudly. I stand by my choice of praising her but will have to remember to whisper it next time, Hattie has good hearing any ways.

Here is the video of our test:

We got our red rosette and won won a voucher for free entry to the next show and a dressage lesson with respected dressage trainer and rider, Danielle Steed (she was also the judge at the show today!) at her barn. The only problem with that is that is her barn is about 12 miles away and since I have no transport and it's too far to hack, it's going to be a bit difficult for me to partake of my prize. I'm going to call her and ask, if I pay her fuel and time, if she would be able to come out to me. Hopefully, she will say yes! :)

Lesson here? Talk to your horse! :)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Jumping in the Rain!

As usual it's raining here in England. Those two weeks of hot weather we had in April was our summer so now it's gone back to perma-spring/autumn for the rest of the year. Regardless, one much ride on so Hattie and I braved the rain and went on a nice hack with canters along the grass verges and a trot through the ford river! We didn't school as it was Hattie's day off from schooling before the show tomorrow but I did "reward" Hattie with a few jumps at the end of our hack as I know she was itching to jump and so was I!

We did a couple on both reins, I got a little left behind on the first one (my right toe has come up) but not nearly as bad as before...

Our second jump was alot better...

and I think by the third time, we got it down pat!

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Side Saddle For Sale & Wanted List

Due to the number of emails and requests from people looking for side saddles, side saddle stuff, etc and people wanting to sell their side saddle stuff, I've decided to make a list for ease of rehoming said items like the Side Saddle Association For Sale/Wanted list.

Email me your items at or requests for items at crinolinegirl @ (take the space away from before and after the @ symbol) and I will put them in a special blog post which will get archived. I've created a little category in the Labels section down on the bottom left side of the page called "Side Saddles and Tack For Sale/Wanted" where these special blog posts will get archived for ease of shopping.

Any transactions are between YOU and the Vendor/Buyer so keep your wits and common sense about you when engaging in a transaction!

I'm doing this as a way to help bring side saddle to more people in what sometimes seems like a closed community.

Like the scans? They are from my 1892 copy of How Women Should Ride by C. De Hurst showing what sort of flat side saddle was recommended during the era as opposed to the "catalog" saddle with slipper stirrup which were available in abundance from every mail order company into the early 20th century.

The stirrup shown in the first scan, is a Scott side saddle stirrup which was patented in 1885. This is it in the closed position...

Here is the Scott in the open position.

The Cope is another similar style safety stirrup that was invented in 1885 as well but differs slightly from the Scott. Instead of the inner stirrup arch tipping forward and splitting in two at the top like the Scott, the inner stirrup on a Cope tilts forwards allowing the bottom foot plate disengage to free the foot.

Closed Cope...

Open Cope...

The Jump

I know I said before that I wouldn't jump side saddle ever again but I'm sorry, it's in my blood.

Hattie HATES dressage and to be honest, I find it boring too so yesterday while in the school trying battle through our dressage test for the show on Sunday, I got off, got out my friend's jump and set a 1' cross rail (the one in the photo). We trotted it first and Hattie was "blah, this is boring" so we cantered it on both reins and she was revved up afterwards and was nice and forward for practising our test.

I got left behind the first two times jumping it as I was trying to get back into the groove of things and Hattie was rushing as she was excited to be jumping, but at the third time, I realized that I was leaning too far forward anticipating the jump and Hattie was falling on the forehand which always makes her take off too early, causing me to get left behind (she does this when jumping astride too).

I thought to myself at that point that "I need to get my sh*t together as this is ridiculous, anybody think I've never jumped in my life". So sat up straight, kept up my ribcage up (this is how I think of my core muscles), right shoulder WAY back, raised my hands a little higher and half halted at the times when I started to feel Hattie want to go on the forehand and kept that right toe pointed WAY down.

It worked, Hattie didn't rush the fence, chip in or take off long before. I could see the strides and feel when she started to gather up herself to jump and was able to get forward and out of the saddle for the take off. We did this today as well while schooling and this time, each jump was perfect.

It just felt so easy.

It's also strange how much your right leg affects the horse's way of going too. My pointing my right toe down, Hattie can feel the resistance on the saddle, slows down and balances herself. I tried this on a 20 metre circle that we have been practising and have been having trouble with.

The circle starts at C in medium walk on the right rein until X, when you have to pick up a working trot. Hattie is in a nice outline for the first half of the circle for the walking bit but then gets excited and anticipates the upward transition at X and goes around with her head up in the air in a "Standardbred" style trot to finish the test!!

So today I got my right toe down at C as I could feel her thinking "whoopee, just need to finish this circle and then I am done!" and did my little half halts and we did it! It wasn't perfect but we picked up a normal "Thoroughbred" trot at X so that is good enough for me for now as I'm giving Hattie the day off from schooling tomorrow as I want her in a good mood for Sunday (we're going hacking tomorrow instead). Before our show on Sunday, I'm going to warm up in my friend's school, do a couple of jumps, then walk down to the show and do a small warm up there to finish our warmup for our test.

I feel that yesterday, a piece in the side saddle puzzle of riding fell into place. We're not there yet but at least it's a start!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

More Side Saddle Surcingles

It was the Diamond horse Show this past Sunday and although it had been forecast heavy rain all day for Sunday, the day before the show, the forecast changed and said that it would be sunny in the morning and rainy in the afternoon. With that hope, I set off at 7am, leading Hattie the seven miles to the show.

We had nice weather walking there and my husband met us at the show with my tack and show clothes to get changed. Well, at 9:30 on the dot, the heavens opened up and stayed open!

Hattie and I only ended up doing two classes as I wanted to get home before the weather got worse (which it did in the afternoon when we were safely home after our long seven mile walk back!) so did Best Turned Out, which we got 2nd place in against 5 other people (got beat by the cutest chestnut show pony) and Best Condition in which we got 1st against pretty much the same 5 people, lol.

I don't think I'll be buying any show photographs as it was a blah day and I forgot to fold down my stupid shirt collar after my husband tied my tie. I was still in the middle of tacking up when they called the Best Turned Out class early so had to get dressed REAL quick while trying to girth up a horse side saddle who normally hates being girthed up at the best of times!

I can't believe I forgot to fold down my collar though, I look a right idiot! The judge didn't say anything about it though and I missed out on 1st place as I don't plait Hattie's tail but instead use a tail rake on it to neaten it as she hates having her tailed pulled or anything doing to it. Turns out that the judge used to ride side saddle herself!

The judge inspecting our tack for cleanliness and me with my dorky collar in the heavy rain and wind...

Hope the weather is better for our dressage next Sunday!!

Jeannie Whited, the best darn side saddle collector/historian/rider/general side saddle all-knowing-goddess, sent me a picture that she has in her VAST collection of a side saddle surcingle used for circus work and shows the Bedinis at the NY Hippodrome.

She says about the photo,"I would put this at between 1905-1915. Barnum & Bailey paid their passage over from England in 12/1903, and after that they also worked for Hagenbeck-Wallace and Sells-Floto."

Here is a close up of the surcingle although with the pommels on the verge of being crushed by the horse, it's not wonder that not many of these side saddle surcingles survive due to the abuse they were put through!!

The fuller, uncropped version of this photo will be published in Jeannie's 2012 side saddle calender which should be available towards the end of the year (let me know Jeannie when you get a publication date!).

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

*ALL SOLD* Side Saddles For Sale

When I bought my Whippy, there was a little hole in the doeskin at the front edge of the fixed head. Unfortunately, with all the riding I have been doing in it, the hole has gotten bigger!

I think I'm going to take it with me when I go to the Nationals at Addington to spectate and shop and see if Laura Dempsey can sew a little patch on there. Until then, it's Vetrap!

We only had a quick 10 minute schooling session this morning as I had wanted to work on my right shoulder and letting Hattie know that she didn't have to be so bendy in the neck! I notice in photos that although my right shoulder is back, that it drops slightly. I've always had this problem as my spine is a bit crooked and I tend to sit that way in chairs too so this morning I practiced, at a walk, just lifting my right shoulder slightly. It felt better and I think Hattie preferred it but boy did it feel strange so we will have to keep plodding on with this.

Also at a walk, I was holding my reins slightly higher than I normal do and just "sponging" the inside rein when I started to see Hattie's poll go down too much which means she then goes behind the vertical. She was getting it so at that point, I stopped as if I do too much with her, she gets brain overload and does the opposite of what I want!

It was a short but sweet schooling session today!

Jeanne, a fellow side saddle rider and follower of my blog, emailed me with some of side saddles that she wishes to sell. I said that I would put them up here in case anyone is interested in any of these lovelies. I do not know anything else about them except what she has emailed me but she did say that she would forward on more photos if anyone was interested or if they needed more information. Jeanne is in the USA and I can forward on her email address if anyone wishes to know more about any of the saddles or to ask if she will ship internationally.

Here is the info Jeanne sent me....



Martin & Martin:

"All leather saddle with medium pommels and recent leather underside. It is ready to ride, has the dual pommel positions, original M&M breakaway fitting with leather, balance girth and sidesaddle iron. Seat length/width on this saddle is 21" x 13" (17" UK measurements). This is a very nice saddle, budget priced at $1650.00 US."

Wide Owen on a Wykham Pad:

"Wide Owen, with a sewn on "wykeham" panel. The panel was redone in Britain a few years ago but I do not know who did the work. It had been recently redone prior to my purchase of the saddle. 21" x 13" seat (16" UK measurement). $2650.00 US"

Regular Tree Owen:

"Owen with "regular" tree, which has been on an Arabian cross and an appendix Quarter horse gelding. Wide pommels with doeskin on the pommels and seat. Linen undersides and wool flocked panels. Seat length/width of 21" x 13" (16" UK measurement). Comes with stirrup fitting, balance girth and a new sidesaddle iron. The iron was purchased recently from Britain. $2450.00 US."

Wide Owen:

"Wide Owen that has been on a warmblood cross and a foundation type Morgan (very round boy). Wide pommels with doeskin on the pommels and seat. Linen undersides and wool flocked panels. Seat length/width of 21.5" x 13.5". Comes with stirrup fitting, balance girth and a new sidesaddle iron. The iron was purchased recently from Britain. $2650.00 US."

"All of the above sidesaddles have trees that are reinforced for jumping. I would include a new fleece cover with any purchase (yes, I make those). All prices are in US dollars, shipping not included in price. I have lots of photos available to e-mail on all of my sale saddles and can take whatever measurements anyone needs. The seat measurements are the US form of measuring, from the front of the upright pommel to the back edge of the seat."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Side Saddle Sursingles

I used to have a stereoview photo many moons ago in my collection of a lady riding a rearing horse side saddle but with only a sursingle! I STUPIDLY sold it on Ebay as I only wanted images of "proper" side saddles but later on after I sold it, I discovered who it was in the photo and that it was indeed a side saddle she was riding in. Grrr....

I found out that the photo was taken in 1889 and that her name was Emma Lake and she was the step-daughter of Wild Bill Hickok.

I had never seen a side saddle sursingle (or roller as it's called in the UK) before and then came across one on Nick Creaton's website and discovered that they were used for bareback riding and circus riding.

I have in my collection, a couple of postcards from the 1911 Lady Godiva procession which was held every year in Coventry here in the UK showing Lady Godiva riding her horse in a side saddle bareback pad and I was extremely lucky to find an image of the actual sursingle she rode in!

Since I ride side saddle AND bareback, wouldn't it be nice if I could find one of these elusive pieces of tack???

Hee hee!! ;-)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Horse Show Report!

I am absolutely knackered tonight from showing today (and hacking 6 1/2 miles there and 6 1/2 miles back bareback) but here are some photos courtesy of my ever obliging husband of our show today.

We were the only side saddle rider there and did Tack & Turnout and Style & Appearance aside were we got 2nds in both classes and then for the inhand classes, we got 2nd for Best Condition, 1st for Best Handler and 3rd for "Horse The Judge Would Most Like to Take Home".

Hattie was a bit wappy due to the strong wind and geldings when we got to the show and wanted to buck and gallop back to the trailer park where all the horses were so had to take her in a remote part of the field and work her in before our class. We did lots of circles and walk/trot/canter transitions but unfortunately, because I had to work her in hard, she scurfed up a bit under the panels so we lost marks in the Tack & Turnout for that. I also lost marks for there being 77 year old horse sweat/grease marks on the edge of my apron seam. These are ground into the fabric where it's worn out over the years so not quite sure what to do about that!!

For Style and Appearance, our transitions were spot on but we lost marks due to Hattie overbending sometimes due to her wappiness and her mind being on the geldings in the car park. She schools nicely at home but at shows, her mind is elsewhere!

All in all, a VERY good day and I hope encouraged some other ladies to ride side saddle today as we had an audience and heard "oo's and ah's" as I was cantering around in our classes!

Hattie and Samson, one of her MANY boyfriends...

Some scenes from today...

Tack & Turnout..

Hattie thinking "What's that? Is that for me??"

Quickly brushing scurf off before the start of the next class!

Our individual show in Style & Appearance...