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!


  1. Those old photos are from the days when everyone had to hold quite still for the exposure and I notice in all of them the ponies posed as well as the people. So sweet.
    Misty is a darling pony!

    1. Misty is a good pony :) I find it amazing that the horses stood for so long in those photos.

    2. Hi Leila,
      I am looking for this exact style side saddle for my daughter and her Shetland, and, being in australi is quite difficult. Could you help with some information on where to get one from please??? It would be greatly appreciated. Regards