My first side saddle lesson was a complete disaster. It was a clinic with Roger Philpot in May 2009 at Witham Villa Riding Centre and was going to be my first ever proper side saddle lesson as up until then, my aside instruction had consisted of reading books, looking at You Tube Videos and trial and error! Hattie had only been ridden TWICE aside before as well and that was only walking around in my field with my old C&W with it's narrow panels!!
I was so looking forward to the clinic and it was a bargain at only £25. The side saddler had also come out in February to make a Wykham pad for my old C&W and had promised that it would be ready in time for the clinic in May so I was looking forward to using my newly renovated saddle at the clinic as well.
Well, nothing ever happens like it's supposed to and it all went to pot. It ended up being a BAKING HOT day and the saddler didn't have my saddle ready for the clinic so Roger Philpot had to loan me a saddle on the day (a Mayhew). It fit me nicely and seemed to fit Hattie nicely BUT if you have been reading my blog long enough, you will know how awkward a horse Hattie is to fit, even if you have the correct tree width and everything.
All was well walking around the school at the beginning of the lesson, that is, until the midges came out. It was then, for the first time, that I discovered that Hattie is a head shaker during the midge season in the summer and needs a nose net to be ridden in when it's bad day. I had only had Hattie since December 2008 so had not encountered the hot midge season with her and was not informed of this! That hot day out of all the days, was the worst and eventually near the end of the clinic, one of Roger's assistants managed to find and borrow a nose net from one of the private boarders at Witham Villa as Hattie was unrideable.
Not only did the midges ruin our lesson, but as soon as we started trotting, that darn Mayhew did nothing else but to shoot straight onto Hattie's shoulders which caused her to have a bucking fit. So I had a head shaking bucking bronco to deal with as a beginner aside rider.
The assistant came to my rescue, tried to adjust the saddle again, led me around at a walk and gave me pointers on my position. I was pretty disappointed with the day as I was looking forward to riding and having a canter as everyone else got to canter, even those who had never ridden side saddle before. At the end of the lesson, Roger also told people what saddles they should get, if they were ready for County standard showing, tips for their riding, etc but I was just kind of left out which made me feel even more like useless crap as I needed some guidance. That Mayhew saddle shooting forward, was a hint of things to come!
I made sure to invest in two nose nets when I got home which I still use when it's midge high season.
My husband had video'ed the day but he deleted it as it was crap so I never got to see the little bit of riding that we did. Surfing on You Tube tonight however, I stumbled across a video taken by the friend of one of the other riders in the clinic! You can see the kind of stuff we or shall I say, they, did that day and see Hattie and I just standing there like bumps on a log (everyone else had greys) along with when the assistant finally managed to track down a nose net and tie it to Hattie's noseband.
Roger Philpot hasn't come back to Witham Villa since but if he ever does, Hattie and I will be prepared with nose nets and a Whippy with a point strap on it!!