Thursday, 28 July 2011

Horsin' It Up Montreal Style!

I haven't been able to post much on my blog as we're currently on holiday visiting my family in Montreal (don't worry, I'm home very soon!) and it's too awkward doing blog stuff as my mom doesn't have any photo editing programs, FTP programs and my Blackberry phone is a pile of expensive useless plastic junk!

It's been lovely and HOT here, not like the 16C and rain that we left in England so we have been soaking as much heat up as we can before going back home to the UK's perma-spring/winter (I call it "Sprinter".

There are no places to ride where my mom is so no riding for me and I've gotten incredibly fat and out of shape, can't wait to get back to my Aquatone classes and to riding everyday. I did get to go to my favorite tack shop, Sellerie Lemay, to go shopping!

Ever since I was about 14, they have had a c. 1870's ornate side saddle hanging up above the cash register and I was looking forward to finally being able to take photos of it. I always used to ask if it was for sale and the answer was always "no" as they said it was "broken" (never said what was broken on it though). Well, got there and there is an empty spot above the cash register. I asked the wife of the owner where it was and she said that it got sold while she was away and that she wasn't very happy as she did NOT want to sell it as it was kind of the mascot of the shop. Grrrrrr....

Despite the disappointment of not being able to take some photos of the beautiful saddle, I did do some serious shopping and got a beautiful Reinsman western felt pad with cutback head that is covered in pink microfibre to use with my side saddle surcingle, an Equine Couture light brown square saddle pad with little polo saddles and snaffles printed all over it for my close contact saddle, a pair of navy blue full seat breeches for my habit (hope I can still fit into them!) and some Absorbine products which cost a fortune in the UK.

We've been doing the typical touristy stuff and went to Old Montreal to look around. There are lots of carriage (called caleches) that tourists can ride in to take in the atmosphere of the area. I've only been on them twice in my life (once when I was a teenager and the driver let me drive!) and about two years ago as they are expensive (about $60 for half an hour). Most of the horses I saw this year seem to be draft types with only being being a Standardbred type. I guess because of the closure of Blue Bonnets racetrack (renamed in later years as the Hippodrome de Montreal) where Standardbred racing was held, the supply of ex-Standardbred race horses needing new jobs has dried up.

I did take photos of the owners washing their horses down, watering them, giving them treats, putting fly sheets on them when they were standing in the caleche line waiting for customers to show that the horses were being taken care of during the heat but I can't get the photos off of my useless phone. My mom took photos of some of the beautiful drafters in Montreal that we saw that day...






The City of Montreal also washes down the streets regularly in Old Montreal to get rid of the horse poo and wee so as not to offend the sensitive noses of those who have never seen a horse before but even so, it still smells horsey there, home....

For some reason, there was horse poo on the bike path even though caleche horses aren't able to get on the path! I wonder if someone went riding on it? Police horse maybe?

Afterwards we went to the Sir George Etienne Cartier museum. This is one of my favorite museums as the house has been restored to look like how it did in the 1860's when the Cartier family lived there. They had a photo from 1870 of Sir Cartier's daughter, Hortense, in a riding habit along with some sporting clothing she had in a display case. I tried to take a photo of her photo but they had a spot light shining right on her face so there is some glare.

After a full day of sight-seeing, we headed back home and passed an over-priced clothing shop in Old Montreal (you know the kind I mean, the minimalist ones where they only have one size, extra small?) and they had a saddle in the window for some bizarre reason. They weren't selling anything remotely horsey in the shop except for some REALLY REALLY REALLY expensive Le Chameau wellies but other than that, it was all modern city clothing. I thought it was a neat photo that my mom took though.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Off-Side Saddle Wanted

Fellow rider and blog reader, Sheryl Gardner, asked me if I could put out a wanted post for her as she is looking for an off-side side saddle. I don't have one for sale as I need mine for my dodgy hip and back but maybe someone out there has one? She is in Colorado and can be reached at sheryl @ (take the space out before and after the @ symbol). Here is her email...

"I am a para-equestrienne (disabled) and am looking for an off side side saddle so that I can continue to ride. I have a saddle fitter here in the US that can make any necessary adjustments, I just cannot find one and so far have not been able to find anyone to make one custom. I would consider a restoration project. My seat is 20.5 so 20-21.5 would work, I suppose I could have a western saddle modified, so western or english saddle would work."

Austrian Side Saddle For Sale

I received an email the other day (shown below) from Larry who is selling his grandmother's side saddle. I think he is in the USA and the saddle looks beautiful so anyone interested can email him at funforpdx @ (take the space out before and after the @ symbol). It may be worth checking the saddle out if you are near him.

OK I am selling a side saddle that came from my grandmothers estate. I don't know that much about them I remember this as a kid and her using it a few times I know she had it for 60+ years since I saw pictures of her riding it in her 20's (she died at 88). The measurements are 21 3/4, x 14 1/4 the leather is in good shape, still supple and no cracking, it needs to be cleaned but since everyone has their own preference on how to do this I will let the buyer do it. It has a cover and iron, the marking on the saddle goes as follows best interpretation on some words due to fading or a bit of wear.

S.Wickede & Sohn
Gattler u Hemer
Kukih-u Armae Lieferanten
Praterstasae Aspeigasse No.3
u.Hejel Ifronprinz

I am asking $2500 US for it and can send additional photos and info if needed. any information you may know about this item is welcomed. Buyer pays shipping and handling and insurance if needed.

Monday, 18 July 2011

So Who is Going to the Nationals at Addington?

I'm looking so forward to going to the National Side Saddle Show this year at Addington! Unfortunately, I won't be showing (maybe next year if I can get Hattie whipped into shape, sort out some transportation and Hattie doesn't decide to injure herself??) but will be going to spectate and shop!!

Who else is going?

For those who have never been, here is an example of the some of more unusual things you get to see at the Nationals...

The shopping is good too as there is not only side saddle vendors (sadly I've been informed that Laura Dempsey won't be there this year), but other equestrian vendors as well. My FAVORITE show shirt brand, Teque-Style will have a stand there so hopefully I will be able to pick up another show shirt from them as I wear my other one to death! They fit me perfectly and the collars aren't baggy either.

LOL, I don't need a saddle this year as I'm sorted with my Whippy and my off-side one but I want to "upgrade" my riding habit to one that has longer sleeves as if I'm going to show next year at the Nationals (*fingers crossed*), I can't have a 2" gap between my wrists and my sleeve cuffs! I need 25" long sleeves, my lovely Moss Bros habit only has 23" long sleeves. Darn my freakishly log arms!!

I'm also looking forward to sitting on the grass with my cheeseburger with fried onions and watching the side saddle jumping!

Lets hope there are no wasps this year!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I Want To Do This...

Well, my virus and my ear infection went away and Hattie's kicked leg unswelled so I thought "great, we can start schooling again!".


Not according to Hattie after deciding to pull a shoe today while schooling. It wasn't even loose and she took a chunk of hoof off with it despite having bell boots on. Sigh...

I swear she does it on purpose to get out of work.

Anyways, the few times I did get to ride this week, were spent practising our transitions and our left rein cantering as we are going to attempt a Prelim test in September. I've been trying to put into practise what my instructor Lili, said about making a nice smooth downward transition (she is reading this! :) ) and this work has paid off as we FINALLY got some good marks for our transitions at our last dressage show.

Any ways, when I come back from vacation (and touch wood that Hattie hasn't found some new and interesting way to injure herself), I'm going to have a lesson with Lili so she can whip us into shape again as we need it!

We also had an interesting hack yesterday when Hattie ran off with me down the lane. I changed her chaff based feed to another brand which I thought was the same but is actually full of molasses and sugar beet (both of which are no-no's for Hattie) so it's sent her crazy. I've been having to school her before hacking out to take the edge off of her. On the plus side, we had some good fast canters!

While hacking out, we passed a man who asked if I was "practising" riding side saddle for a special occasion, I said no, I always ride this way! He couldn't believe it! It reminded me of a photo I came across on the internet a little while ago.

"Side saddle riders, Broad Chalke. A rare and unusual sight these days. The three ladies were beautifully dressed in side saddle habits as they rode their horses down the village street."

© Copyright Trish Steel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The caption made me chuckle as we side saddle riders are becoming less rare and unusual these days!

I also bought myself a Belly Buster girth tightener on Ebay as my fingers are becoming too arthritic to do up a non-elastic girth, especially when Hattie blows out. I paid £6 for it and it's the BEST £6 I have ever spent. I can tighten the three fold girth easy without straining and Hattie doesn't try to bit me when I do the girth up now as I'm not heaving and struggling to grip the billets. I can tighten slowly which is what Hattie likes without stressing my fingers. It truly is a godsend.

My saddler Roger Whitehead, is also coming out next month to finish my off-side side saddle (YAY!!!), reflock my Whippy and restore my side saddle surcingle. I told him about it and he's excited to see it! If my off-side side saddle is done for September, I may try a dressage test in that as Hattie seems to like that saddle. With the age that it is, I don't think it will be a jumping saddle but purely for dressage. I'm going to have Roger take off the leaping head cover so my farrier can open up the pommel for me too.

Someone posted this video on the Sidesaddle Riders! Facebook page of Aly Howard who has started doing eventing with a side saddle. I WANT TO DO THIS!!!! I wish I was 15 years younger and a bit less stiff as I would love to event side saddle. LOL, I will have to be happy with my little 1' fences :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Look at a Riding Corset: Ferris Good Sense Waist

I have not ridden at all this week due to having a bad virus which I caught from a public swimming pool, and has turned into an ear infection causing me to be dizzy :( So with me being out of auction for a bit riding wise, here is a look at a riding corset which I used to have in my antique corset collection, The Ferris Good Sense Waist...

c.1903-1906. A white sateen Ferris Good Sense Corsetwaist made by the Ferris Bros. (New York and San Francisco). Ferris corsetwaists were seen an a healthier alternative for woman from the traditional heavily boned corset. They were marketed towards all segments of society from working class women to wear as a comfortable working corset to wealthy women who could afford to keep horses and ride to use as a riding corset.

The corsetwaists relied on cording for support although some light whalebone was used and had button up fronts rather than a stiff busk.
Ferris made waists for babies and children right up to adult women and came in different models and lengths (short or long) and bust sizes (slim or full) to suit all figure types and heights. The shoulder straps gave support to the breasts and are adjustable.

This particular corsetwaist is the slim busted/ short length variation of model number 230 which had lacing on the hips which meant it could be used for sports such as horse riding, bicycling, golf, tennis, etc or by fuller figured women who needed more abdominal support.
The model down was the 220, which was identical to this corset but did not have lacing on the hips. Early models did not have the two tabs at the bottom from for pinning on stocking suspenders, these were added onto Ferris waists after 1902. There were fastenings at the hips of the waists for also attaching clothing to but these were removed by the original owner. Early models had button attachments while later 1890's and onwards Ferris waists have a clamp buckle attachment at the hips.
Measurements: Bust 32", Waist 25", Hips 31".