Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Side Saddle Nationals at Addington!

We got back home from Montreal on Friday and still suffering from jet lag, my ever obliging husband graciously drove me 64 miles to the Addington Manor Equestrian Centre so that I could watch the Side Saddle Nationals on Saturday!

There is talk of the Nationals being held in Grantham, Lincolnshire next year due to the increased traffic, etc from the 2012 Olympics in that area and the Side Saddle Association sent out voting slips to the members so that we could vote if we still wanted it at Addington in Buckinghamshire or in Lincolnshire at Arena UK so we shall see.

The weather was ok but in true British fashion, it rained somewhat with the sun peeking out later on in the afternoon. Despite the cruddy weather, there were lots of competitors, spectators and vendors. I didn't do that much shopping as I was a bit low on cash after just come back from holiday but got the show shirt I wanted, another Cope stirrup for my side saddle surcingle and 5 Aerborn brand hairnets for red hair as they were only 20p each!

I looked at all the saddles that were for sale at the various vendors but nothing unusual like any off-side or reversible saddles (I asked!) and I don't need another nearside saddle as my Whippy is just fine! I found saddle prices generally high though, even for saddles needing some work, but this may be because side saddle riding is on the increase and the lack of old name saddles to meet the demand (I noticed that there wasn't as many saddles for sale as there has been at the Nationals in other years). It seems that it would be safe to say, that a saddle bought at these high prices would hold their value, if not increase in the future with current growth in the interest of side saddle riding.

The highest priced saddles seemed to be the small seated (16 1/2" and under UK measurement) saddles and I felt distinctly FAT walking around seeing all these skinny lithe elegant riders with their little saddles. I took note of what sizes people were looking for in saddles at the various vendors and it was all the small seated ones that seemed to generate the most interest with the larger seated ones, left wanting. I guess more choice for me and Hattie!

I thought to myself that maybe the UK and the US could do a swap of side saddles as the larger sizes seem to be in more demand than here in the UK? Brita, I spotted some saddles that would have been long enough for you including an 18 1/2" Champion & Wilton (UK measurement).

I am thinking about buying a new habit as the sleeves on my 1934 Moss Bros one are a little bit short. There were lots of habits for sale but most of them were too small or the few that I could get on, were much too big for me. One vendor had a vintage UK size 14 habit that was long enough in the sleeve but the apron was too short! It was £250 though and had a lot of repairs and wear so not really appropriate for the showing that I want to do any ways. There was an off-side apron for sale too but it only had a 26" waist, boo hoo!!

I tried to take as many photos as I could while I walked around and thank you to all the vendors who graciously allowed me to photograph their stands!

One of the first stands I visited was the Alexander James stand...

I have always admired their riding habits and tried some size combinations for fit. I think that once the shows are over, that I'm going to sell my Moss Bros habit and save up for an Alexander James habit as the fit was excellent, even though the garments I tried, were the off-the-peg range that they offer. I found the price reasonable and they said that they could make me an off-side apron to match. I've got my brochure and price quotes save here beside me to am really to order when the time comes!

Next was master saddler, Saskia von Ehrenkrook's, stand showing new saddles she has made along with beautiful vintage ones for sale...

There were also riding habits made by Ewe Mueller on display and Saskia showed me the modern tree on which she builds her side saddles.

The Headline's stand is always a favorite of mine as they sell everything from vintage clothing & habits to antique tack and collectibles. It's a bit of heaven for me as it combines everything I love into one convenient place!

They also make new side saddle costumes and habits as well and my friend Gill, was particulary smitten by a Victorian reproduction habit of theirs on display outside the stand..

Gill wants to now try my Whippy on her Connemara gelding, Smokey. I think I have converted another!

I liked the burgundy habit outside of Headlines and it looked like it would have just about fit me...

A beautiful antique side saddle that Headlines had for sale...

Their business does not have a website, but their contact details are:
Jan Lines
Hartshill Cottage
Burton Dassett
Nr. Southam, Warwickshire
CV47 2AB
01295 770 689
jan_lines1 @ yahoo.co.uk (please removed the space before and after the @ sign).

Thompstone Toppers is another regular at the Nationals and another favorite as they carry vintage habits and LOTS AND LOTS of antique and vintage top hats and bowlers. I lusted after that green habit but alas, it was too small..

They had a small sized Whippy for sale that I was tempted to get for Hattie for Josie to ride!

A glimpse of some of their many hats...

Their business does not have a website either, but their contact details are:
Thompstone Toppers
Ros Thompstone
Grove Farm
Burton Dassett
Southam, Warwickshire
CV47 2AB
01295 770 204
Mobile: 07900 272 390

I always enjoy going to the Side Saddles tent as it's one big side saddle only tack shop that sells new and vintage/antique items. I ALWAYS have to buy something from them!

A closer look at the Victorian pilch side saddle that they have for sale (if I had a spare £650, I'd buy it just for decoration)...

After doing the first aisle of vendors, we decided to grab a hamburger, relax and watch some showing. It was still raining at this point and I took this neat picture of some pony riders and their moms aka "grooms" sheltering under some trees waiting for their class to start. The grey pony on the left was wearing a synthetic side saddle.

Dressage in the rain...

and jumping in the rain! These are all of Samantha Boxall riding Parklands Phoenix. I wish I was a fearless jumper like her!

After watching jumping and eating hamburgers, we decided to tackle the rest of the shopping stalls as I really wanted to get my show shirt from the Teque-Style stand. Turns out, I was just in time as they had sold out of all but one in the size and color I needed. This is the shirt I got and they are my FAVORITE and comfiest shirts ever.

We also came across the Field and Country Antiques stand and they had some beautiful vintage habits along with LOTS of antique and vintage hunting accessories like whips, sandwich cases, etc for sale. I looked at every habit they had but sadly, none to fit me although there were some beauties. They also had a small selection of side saddles for sale, this is where I saw the 18 1/2" Champion & Wilton.

Mike Huline-Dickens and Suzie Vandepeer also had a stand there where they were repairing side saddles along with having saddles and accessories for sale.

Suzie showed me a very drool-worthy side saddle that she had made herself and one which I could have happily carried off home with me!!

She also introduced me to a lady name Julie (sorry, I missed your last name!) who is training to make side saddles. The saddle that Julie is standing in front of without the leaping head, is one that she was currently making. It's good to see that there is a whole new generation of side saddle makers appearing.

Afterwards, we wandered into the indoor arena to have a look at the horses and riders warming up and to watch some equitation classes. I didn't get to take any photos of the indoor classes as I did not want to disturb the classes with my camera flash but managed a quick snap of the indoor warm-up area of some elegant riders and their lovely horses.

Coming out of the indoor arena, there was a show hunter class going on in the outside dressage arena and I caught sight of a familiar face, my instructor Lili Brooksby!

I knew Lili was going to be there but didn't know which classes she was entering but I was lucky enough to watch her while she was doing a class. I really like Lili's individual show as it's short and sweet so I think I'm going to steal it for when I have to do an individual show!

She got 2nd in the show hunter class with her horse, Paddy (Silver Mercedes)! Go Lili!

After Lili's class, we headed over to watch the Restricted Equitation class as this is the class I would enter next year if I am lucky enough to be able to take Hattie to the Nationals. On the way there, I snapped this candid shot of riders waiting in the drizzle for the jumping class to start.

These were some of the riders waiting for the Restricted Equitation class to start. I liked the habit that the lady was wearing on the colored cob on the right. It was kind of a charcoal grey/browny color and looked vintage.

There was a very high turn out standard but nothing that Hattie and I don't do any ways for a show, local shows at that! I reckon we would have a chance and the class consisted of walk/trot/canter with a tack & turnout inspection and individual show. Something to aspire to for next year. Maybe I'll do it in my off-side side saddle with an Alexander James habit!

FINALLY the sun came out and we went to see the native pony class. Just outside the class, there was a little girl watching the native class and holding her own cute pony with it's neat antique side saddle.

Ponies in action!

Nearby was Master Saddler, Susan Slade's stand with a nice selection of vintage side saddles. I was lusting after that double bridle hanging up at the front and nearly bought it!!

My favorite part of the whole day was probably the costume classes. First was the children's costume classes and it was cute to see the kids getting themselves and their ponies ready and trying to memorize the historical facts about their costumes ready to tell the judges!

The ladies costume class was right after the children's class. Here are some of my favorite costumes...

This one was an original 1908 habit. In the costume class, you can either wear an original ANTIQUE habit or a reproduction. Last year, an pinstriped olive colored 1907 habit won it (it was a beautiful habit!).

Action shots of the costumes!

A beautiful red habit...

As we were waiting to be picked up by my husband, I took some photos of the gorgeous prizes to inspire me for next year!


  1. BEST POST EVER!!!!! Wiping the drool off of my keyboard!

  2. OMG! I would have been in sidesaddle heaven, actually I probably would have had a heart attack from excitment, because I wouldn't know what to look at first! :)
    I am definately saving up for a holiday to the UK one day to coincide with Nationals and I will have to save up extra to bring home a luscious new habit and maybe a sidesaddle or two... lol

  3. My My... if I had experienced that much side saddle shopping first hand I would still be hung over.
    Love that green habit. Wouldn't that look lovely on a grey?
    Thanks for all the wonderful photos!!!


  4. Oh wow! I'm absolutely swooooooning over all of the amazing sidesaddle-ness! The shopping! The habits! The riders & their horses! Just wow!
    One year I will have to make it over to see that!

  5. What else could it be but Sidesaddle Nirvana?

  6. lovely post - I think my friends and I were sheltering from the rain and eating burgers next to you watching the jumping :)

  7. What a lovely entry that really summed it up! thanks for the video and the pics, didnt know you had done a video. I am going for three days camping next year, might take Lola but if I dont and have a space, bring Hattie xx

  8. Cool,thanks Lili!! Yeah, it was a sneaky video ;)

  9. I have seen so many ladies riding side saddle with hunting flasks buckled to their saddles. In the past a lady would have a sandwich box and flask combined, it looks so much neater.