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!).


  1. The full print is something like 12"x18", and has been damaged over the years, but it was an excellent print back in the day. You can actually make out individual hairs on the horse with just a little magnification. Sadly, that strap around the pommels is hidden, but I'd be willing to bet it's a hand or foot hold. (Like hand or foot holds are different!)

  2. oh - that was a typo on my part - They came departed England in 2/05 (arrived early March), not December.

  3. Ehhhh, you just say you were trying to keep the rain out. I mean, what else is a collar for? That snapshot is really rather attractive.


  4. So I still haven't tried sidesaddle yet, but I still want to! Since I part board a horse, and don't own her, it doesn't seem like a smart thing to buy a saddle that fits her and me, but probably won't fit a horse a buy.
    Is it a terrible idea to try to learn with a sidesaddle surcingle? Are they as difficult to fit as a full saddle? I've looked a bit, and can't seem to find any new ones, does anyone custom make them these days?


    having issues signing in - lexie

  5. hi!
    you are a huge inspiration to me, I tell you I am absolutey addicted to you blog!
    I have been looking for a side saddle for my arabian mare for a while now, but how to choose? I don't have thousands to spend and it would be my first side saddle, so I'm a newbie at the whole thing.

    I was wondering if I could PLEASE enlist your help. I'm from the netherlands and it is practically impossible to find side saddles there, of course I'm looking where-ever I can ( ebay in various languages helps too haha ) but it's still difficult.
    if you're interested in helping me, would you minde emailing me at :

    It would be AMAZING if you would!
    sincere thanks, lieke

  6. Brita, it DID keep the rain out quite well so I was comfy, that why I didn't notice it was up, LOL!

    Lexie, if you have never ridden side saddle before, I don't know if a surcingle would be a good idea as a full saddle does support you when you are learning whereas a surcingle, there is nothing to support your left thigh except yourself!

    LOL, I'm not even going to try my surcingle on Hattie at first but on flat withered and backed Jacob until I get used to it.

    Why not try an Elan? They aren't too expensive, tend to hold their value and you wouldn't have any trouble reselling it if you did get another horse and it didn't fit.

    Lieke, I can't email you as Hotmail always blocks my email address for some reason. I would try an Elan for your Arabian too. I was going to buy one for an Arab I had on loan. They are about $800 US or so now and Marti, the lady that owns Hundred Oaks and holds the patent on them, will help you choose the right size as well.

  7. strange that hotmail seems to dislike you LOL
    I've got another email :

    but I've got some great ( and scary and exciting ) news! I have an aunt in america who says she'll let me buy a saddle in america, let it get shipped to her and then she'll bring it back with her to holland on July 7th ( she's spening a few weeks here on holiday).
    this is incredibly exciting as this mean I could have a side saddle by early July! and incredibly scary cuz my longtime dream is getting very real all of a sudden!!
    I found a sommerset saddle on craigslist that has been restored, it already look decent on the unrestored pictures, any thought on the brand?

    I also found a pleasure saddle that is tagged as "arabian costume side saddle". it doesn't look like you could jump in it ( not like I can get her over a fence astride let alone aside LOL ) but it's pretty and I'm shallow haha.

    these are the links:

    what do you think?

    if I want my aunt to take a saddle back with her I need to find it somewhere before July 3rd ( it still needs to get shipped to my aunt before she can take it anywhere) so I've got some time, but not a lot and these seem to be some of the few affordable saddles out there. ( unless you know of this great side saddle hidden somewhere in the US :D )

    anyways, thanks for responding! hope you'll take a look at those saddles.
    x lieke

  8. Lieke, I can't really help you with saddles in the US as I'm in England :) but to be honest, I probably wouldn't buy either saddle on Craigslist. They are old Victorian ones without cutback heads (so no good for horses with decent withers) and probably made very narrow.

    Without trying them on your horse, it's risky but more often than not, these saddles are very narrow and if your Arab is anything like the Arab I used to ride (with wide sprung ribs and high withers), they won't fit.

    For $100, the "Arabian show saddle" (actually a Victorian catalog saddle) would make a nice decoration if it didn't fit but the other one, I'd forget about it as it looks VERY narrow.