Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Itty Bitty Teeny Weeny Side Saddle

It's not been a very productive week for Hattie and I, what with her being out of commission with her rubbish hoof and now me with a swollen throat and an ear infection! The Burbage Riding Club show Championships are on the 23rd I'm hoping that both of us are back in the swing of things for then. 

My friends and I had planned to do to the South Kilworth Show on the 16th but I don't know if Hattie and I will be ready for it. Hopefully my farrier will say Hattie's off-side fore hoof is fine to shoe again when he comes out the week of the 11th and the last remnants of her swollen fetlock joint will have gone by then (nearly gone now, only a very slight puffiness left). If that hoof is not ready for shoes yet, then at least we can enter the Best Turned Out Class which is just walking around as the ground at Stamford Hall is nice, grassy and soft with no stones so if Hattie is still barefoot, she will be ok to enter that class and then afterwards, we can cheer on our friends while she munches on the tasty grass! 

Meanwhile I'd like to present my newest saddle to my "stable" of them, a Victorian reversible pilch side saddle!

It's identical to the one that Miss Dodd-Noble has on display in her shop, Sandon Saddlery, right down to the fancy "H" pattern stitching on the flaps.

It's made of pigskin and the fancy patterns look to be machine sewing but there is also a lot of hand sewing and finishing on the saddle as well. It was made by J.J. Adamson, Saddler, 38 Lord St, Liverpool and is made from felt covered in pigskin leather but there does seem to be a little bit of flocking on the bottom of the panels as well. 

The half tree is entirely made up of steel and has screw holes on each side so that the girl could ride on the near or off-side.

This reversible feature was also used on pilch side saddles that George Parker & Sons made as well, although their ones also had a removable and reversible safe. Mine and Miss-Dodd-Noble's pilches probably never had safes as neither saddle survives with one.

This c. 1877- 1879 CDV photo of a tall girl on a rather small pony show her pilch as having a safe (you can just see the vestigial off-side head)...

But on this late 1850's CDV photo, this little girl's saddle does not have any visible safe...

The pommels on my pilch can be taken off altogether for a boy to ride on as well as shown in this c. 1865- 1866 CDV photo.

There is no balance strap on the pilch but it is doubtful that little children would be jumping in pilches so they would not have been added or needed. There are only two billet straps on each side. The tree points are steel.

I tried my little pilch on Hattie and it seems to be a good medium to medium/wide fit but with only a 14 1/2" long seat (from the front of the fixed had to the front of the "bum roll"), it looked TINY on Hattie!

BUT it fit my friend's pony, Misty well...

And so 11 year old Maria who loans Misty, got to ride side saddle for the very first time!

Neither Maria or Misty have ever done side saddle before and both took to it quickly. Maria even managed to have a little trot in the pilch and exclaimed at the end that she wants her own side saddle. Misty did not bat an eye.

Maria likes doing the fun showing classes at horse shows like "Prettiest Mare" so I promised her that she could borrow my pilch for the next show (the South Kilworth show) if she wanted to ride Misty side saddle in those classes (they are only walking classes) so it looks like I'm going to need to sort out a little apron for her!

Monday, 27 August 2012

High Hopes

Meet High Hopes aka Hope, who belongs to the family who own the stable that I keep Hattie at. Laura, her owner, said that I could school her as she is busy with work and doesn't have enough time in the day to ride and school her four horses every day. Plus, Hattie is out of action at the moment due to pulling her shoe off and taking a chunk of hoof with it AND tweaking her leg somehow so it all swelled up. Sigh...

Hope a 16 year old (same age as Hattie), 16hh Irish Draft x Thoroughbred mare and I really enjoy riding her as she is sharp and doesn't need much leg (unlike Hattie). Hope also enjoys schooling, unlike Hattie BUT she can be VERY excitable and doesn't travel very well. She is a tricky horse to ride as she doesn't like a heavy rein contact so you have to be really soft with the rein and when she gets excited, you have to use your seat and body to regulate her paces and/or halt her, just like side saddle really. You can't just use your reins to stop or regulate her, it has to be your body and seat or else it sets her off and her head goes in the air.

My plan for Hope is to get her flatting nicely over the winter and spring, with the odd dressage show thrown in that we can hack to, and then hopefully start her under side saddle next summer. Laura is a bit sceptical whether she will be able to go side saddle or not and doesn't think she is safe to do so as she gets very excitable but we'll try it slowly and if she doesn't like it, then we'll stop. If you don't try, then you don't know! I probably won't try hacking her out in one but if we can do some schooling side saddle and try the odd local dressage show aside, then that is good enough for me.

I did try Hattie's Whippy on her the other day to see if it even fit and it looks like it will be a good fit for her with no bridging and the tree shape seemed to fit her conformation nicely. Hope and Hattie are similar shapes with Hope just being a tiny bit more stockier built.

So we shall see next year how it goes!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

South Kilworth Riding Club Show Report!

After TWO years of waiting to go to the South Kilworth Riding Club show, I finally got to go!
Originally, it had been held 10 miles away from me in the village of Husbands Bosworth (we went to one show there in May 2010), but then in 2011, the venue was changed to the grounds of historic Stanford Hall.

I LOVE Stanford Hall and once when we visited the house (it is like a museum inside), I thought how wonderful it would be to ride across the vast grounds side saddle.

Well, on August 12, 2012, my wish was granted...

Walking towards the Hall where the warm up field was...

Me about to take off...

And off I go cantering in the fields like I own the place!

Hattie chilled out as usual...

A very dis-shelved me getting Hattie ready...

Takes it all in her stride...

Raining weather as usual!

Waiting for the Best Turned Out class to start. After trying a double bridle, which Hattie did not get on with (she doesn't like too much stuff in her mouth), I tried a Rugby Show Pelham which she went well in so decided to show in that. I figure if we are going to show at the Nationals, I best get used to using two reins.

We came third in Best Turned Out, yay!

Our next class was Style and Appearance where your turn out and riding/horse's way of going is judged. The judge also rode side saddle as well!

Doing our individual show for the judge...

There was quite a few in the class and we came 1st and even won a little silver plate!

The lovely grounds of Stanford Hall...

Our last class of the day was ridden Veteran ( horses aged 15 yrs+, Hattie is 16) where we all had to walk, trot and canter around together and then during our individual shows, also show a lengthening of the canter. I wasn't the only side saddle rider either, there was another lady named Barbara there as well. If I'd have known we could have worn top hats, I would have worn mine too!

Get that right shoulder back woman!

Better right shoulder back here...

Line up and waiting to do our individual shows...

Our victory lap, Barbara came 1st on her horse and Hattie and I came 2nd!

All the 1st and 2nd place winners in each class qualified for the Championship class at the end of the day, unfortunately, my yard owner (who generously brought us in his big horse lorry) had to leave early due to work commitments so we didn't get to stay for the Championships but there is another South Kilworth show in September so all being well, we'll get to go to that one.


Up for sale is my lovely Champion & Wilton style saddle as it just doesn't work for Hattie.

A ladies all leather side saddle from April 10, 1893 made from lovely tan colored English leather and fitted with a period Champion & Wilton style safety fitting (stamped on the stirrup fitting with "Wilton's Patent Oxford St." and "Saddle NOT Made by Champion & Wilton"). It may be an early Whippy who are known for the nail just under the seat on the nearside and were the "great integrator's" with regards to using features from other saddle makers.

It was retro fitted with a safety fitting instead of a roller bar when it was new in the 1890's as the old stirrup flap was cut off and a Champion & Wilton style flap sewn over instead. All the leather and stitching matches so was probably done by the same saddler who made it. The date in burnt into the offside flap and the saddle has D-rings on the nearside for a skirt protector to be buckled on (skirt protector sadly does not survive with this saddle). I have a photo of a saddle with a skirt protector that I can forward onto the high bidder should you wish to have one made for this saddle. There are extra D-rings on the off-side to attach extra things other than a sandwich case so a good travelling saddle. I had plans on using it for Le Trec due to all the extra d-rings and the comfy wide seat.

The saddle does have a hunting bar fitted but I do not know if a saddle of this age would be suitable for jumping and hunting now. The webbing in the seat seems strong and tight as there is no sagging or puckering to the leather on the seat. The pommels don't have any damage to the leather. The leather at the back of the cantle is in good condition too. It does not appear that this saddle had much use over the years due to it's tan color and lack of "sweet spot" in the seat. The leather is still "squeaky new" as it was never ridden in long enough for it to be broken in. I bought it from a master saddler at this year's Nationals at Addingon but sadly, the tree shape is just not quite the right shape for my awkward mare's conformation as it pinches her off-side shoulder ever so slightly. It's an "almost, but not quite" fit for my 15.3hh Thoroughbred mare who takes a medium fit in saddles. It fit my friend's 14.2hh Connemara gelding PERFECTLY, who takes a medium fit in GFS saddles but the saddle is too long for my friend who is only 5'1" so needs to be sold. The flocking is not lumpy and the flocking job actually fit my horse quite well. The saddle will most likely need to be flocked for your own particular horse though.

I have been riding in this saddle for the past couple of weeks since buying it August 5 in an attempt to give the flocking a chance to bed to Hattie's shape but sadly, it's a no go. We've been schooling and hacking out with some fast canters and it felt SO comfortable. The saddle did not feel to ride uphill with me and I found the seat comfortable. I do not like very flat 1930's style seats as I don't find there is enough support but each to their own!

If I was keeping this saddle, I would have the girth straps replaced as they look to be the original ones, have a new gullet channel liner put in as for some bizarre reason, someone sliced the original serge channel liner and I would have the saddle panels relined in linen to cover up the old serge which has some moth damage (there is also a hole in the linen as well). The leather has discolored at the top edge of the safe. There is moth damage to the top of the panel safe (see photos), and the leather has come away a bit at the cutback head but a screw was added in modern times (it's not an old screw), see photos. I am not a saddler and have checked over this saddle as best as I am able to but it is a swish looking saddle and well worth putting the work into it as it is eye catching. It is an old saddle and does need some work but these old saddle are becoming harder and harder to find. Bidders are welcome to view the saddle or even try it if you are local BEFORE bidding as there is no returns.

Saddle does not come with any fittings.

Seat measures 21 1/2" from the front of the fixed head to cantle and 17 1/2" from the cutback to cantle. I am 5'9" and a UK size 16 and this fits me brilliantly but seat length also depends on your own particular conformation. The tree is a good medium fit which will fit high withered Thoroughbred types. The tree gullet fits my FAT 15.3hh Thoroughbred mare but the shape of the tree does not quite suit her. Fit a 14.2hh Connemara perfectly who takes a medium fit in GFS saddles. Right under the cutback head in the gullet channel measures 4 1/2", D to D ring is 8", Bottom of short off-side tree point edge to the bottom edge of the near side tree point edge is 17", actually gullet spread taken from the tree edge to tree edge without padding is 6".

I would like £850 but will consider offers as there is no point in me keeping a saddle that doe not work for Hattie as I have enough stuff in my house as it is! Shipping within the UK will be £40, £100 to Europe, to the US and Canada will be £175, to Australia/ New Zealand will be £302. I always ship carefully and the saddle will be sent heavily padded out in a BIG box.

I ship internationally! My courier WILL NOT ship to P.O. Boxes so you must have premises to deliver to.