Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Year End Review- It Was A VERY Good Year! Part Two...

Not only did Hattie do very well in showing this year but we also did something that we have never done before, hunt side saddle.

On October 25, 2013, The Quorn Hunt Opening Meet Side Saddle day organized by Emma Brown, was held. I had NEVER hunted astride or aside before and as far as I know, Hattie never did either (I have since found out that she did used to go out with the Cottesmore sometimes)!

To get ourselves hunting fit, we spent August and September schooling in the field over uneven ground and I had a lesson with Roger Philpot from Pittern Hill Stables, who came out to fit my off-side Champion & Wilton and to given me a lesson. He tweaked my position and got me to put my weight onto the front of my left leg (since I'm riding on the off-side) which made me ride more forward and allowed my hips to have more of a "rolling sliding" feeling. This "forward seat" position allows you to jump easier and absorb the movement of the horse easier when riding over uneven terrain. This is why in the showing photos taken in September and October, you can see that my position when cantering and jumping is a lot more forward- and better, than it had been.

Roger gave me the history of my side saddle, he told me that it had been ridden in by Lady Leigh in the 1940's whose family had owned Stoneleigh Estate and it had been in her family since it was made, about 1908. I found out that Lady Leigh had become disabled in a hunting accident so she had to ride in an off-side side saddle.

So armed with Roger's knowledge, my hunting cap and Lady Leigh's Champion & Wilton, off we went hunting!

Hunting started at 11:00am but we got there early to get ready. There were already lots of people there and there were lots of ladies walking around in habits so I didn't feel like an oddity, like how I usualy feel at shows!

Hattie and I all tacked up and ready to go. This was my new green habit's first outing and my first long ride in my Champion & Wilton. My saddler, Roger Whitehead, adjusted the shims in my saddle and made a nice and neat thick shim as Hattie had lost her summer weight with all the fittening work we had been doing. He also added a point strap on the nearside point to keep the saddle put as we all know where Hattie's saddles like to go!!

Notice how I'm NOT wearing a spur!!!!

Hattie and I saying "good morning" to the hunt masters...

(photo courtesy of Sam Arbon)

Emma Brown had wanted to beat last year's Quorn Opening Meet side saddle turnout of 40 side saddle riders and we did it this year with I believe, 45!

(photo courtesy of Stephanie Davies) 

(photo courtesy of Stephanie Davies) 

I was the only off-side rider but in these videos by Russ Cross, you can see all of us side saddle ladies and one man!

More photos can be seen on the Equestrian Life Magazine website and on the Rose Rodgers wesbite.

(photo courtesy of Russ Cross) 

(photo courtesy of Russ Cross) 

 Hattie thought the whole thing was great too, I'm sure she thought it was the strangest showing show she'd ever been too!! When we set off, she went sideways and backwards as she was so excited to go. I did end up changing into my skull cap as I didn't trust myself not to come off Hattie and ruin my antique top hat and my head!

Hattie going sideways...

Hattie was VERY fast that day and even with the pelham on, I couldn't stop her. We galloped across a downhill field where at the bottom, a huntsman was holding open a gate for everyone to go through to a farmyard. Well, that open gate was getting closer and closer and Hattie was showing no signs of stopping. At the last second so I wouldn't crash into anyone's horses bums, we swerved to the right (made sure to keep my left shoulder BAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK) and Hattie slide to a stop. The huntsman's face was priceless and said that it "was a good stop!".

It was exhilarating, if not slightly terrifying, across the fields and even though we have galloped out on our hacks, Hattie was never as fast as she was out hunting. It was like she had  hidden gear which kicked in! My saddle was very secure and comfortable and I wouldn't have managed to stay out as long as we did on a nearside side saddle.

We we're out for about 3 hours before I decided to call it a day for Hattie and I. She was getting more and more wound up and excited, trying to canter and buck on the road too, so we turned around and tried to find out way back to the field where all the lorries were parked. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember the way back and would have had to go through the farm yard gate where Hattie had done her sliding stop so hacked up to the main road in Melton Mowbray, the A607, and found our way back home. It's a good thing Hattie is good in traffic as that road is very busy and fast. I wonder what all the drivers mad of seeing a lone side saddle rider hacking down a busy A-road?! I did thank every car that passed carefully beside us but had some silly woman shout at us to ride on the grass verge. 1) It's not in the Highway Code and horses are permitted on an A-road, 2) It was not safe to ride on the grass verge as there were big traffic road sign poles along it which we wouldn't have been able to ride under or through, 3) If Hattie spooked while on the grass verge and went sideways onto the road, cars would have been driving at their normal speed so would have hit us. At least if we are on the road, cars are forced to slow down and drive safely.

Sarah and I heading out...

(photo courtesy of Rose Rodgers Photography)

It was a brilliant day and I felt proud to be a part of hunting history and especially on a historic saddle too.

Monday, 30 December 2013


C. 1900 George Parker & Sons Reversible side saddle for sale. Seat is about 21 1/4" from the front of the fixed head to cantle or 17" from the cutback to cantle (it has a VERY deep cutback head). Seat is 13" across. I am a Uk size 16 and 5'9" and this saddle was plentylong enough for me.

It has a roller bar stirrup fitting and a nice comfy sweepy leather seat which is in excellent condition with no tears. he saddle tree is reinforced and tree is SOUND as was checked by my saddler Roger Whitehead, but this saddl e wasn't meant for heavy-duty hunting and show jumping, it was a park saddle. It's perfectly fine and safe for dressage, flatwork, equitation, hacking out, and the odd low jump in Riding Club horse classes or dressage with a jump classes. Very comfy and I've hacked out and schooled in it, pommels currently suit "ample thighs" but could be padded up with queens for smaller legs.

Has had a new flippable safe made and comes with a reversible fleece saddle cover. The leather work is in good condition (leaping head an an old patch to the tip), really only needs the panels relining with new serge as it's moth eaten and being flocked to your horse. I've used the billets as is but you could get them replaced if you wish, the over girth has a special made strap which buckles underneath but I was going to get a new overgirth for off-side riding only but I'll leave it to the new owner to do as they wish. The overgirth straps have old stitching where the holes have stretched through. The saddle could do with a new gullet channel liner as the original is torn (cosmetic, doesn't affect the use of the saddle and and any saddler can put a new one in).

Tree is a medium/wide fit as it's too wide as it is for Hattie as it sits down on her withers, it would need to be heavily flocked for a narrower horse or put on a wykham for a wider horse. It's got quite an open cutback head on it too. The head just under where the panels are screwed on is approx. 5", just under the thickest part of the panels is 10", From the bottom tip of the leather tree point pocket straight across to the other bottom tree point pocket tip is 18".

I tried it on my friend's 3 polo ponies, 2 of which take a wide fit in polo saddles and one of which takes a medium/wide fit. It fir 2 out of the 3 REALLY well, the only one it didn't fit as well was Possa as she has a really wide barrel but I think on a wykham, it would have worked for her as well she has high withers due to being a Thoroughbred type. The other two who it fit really well, are two Argentinian bred ponies who have Quarter horse breeding in them. Both are chunky built with moderate shoulders and a moderate barrel. It fit Pico, the pony who takes a medium/wide REALLY well and fit Daicy who takes a wide quite well although with some of the flocking removed or put on a wykham, would be a really good fit too. I've taken photos of Pico (the chestnut) and Daicy (the roan) to show how well it fit both of them and their build so email me if you would like to see more photos.

On my high withered Thoroughbred Hattie, who takes a narrow/medium to medium fit and has narrow shoulders, the saddle sits ok when it isn't girthed up but as soon as the girth is tightened and you sit on it, it sits on her withers so I used to ride with a really thick sheepskin half pad underneath it with all the shims in it to get it up off of her but was not ideal. The tree points are also too wide to offer any support for her.

I accept IBAN (bank transfers), Paypal, cash on collection. You are welcome to view the saddle, I am in South Leicestershire (3 miles from Junction 21 of the M1) and will ship internationally.

£2000 or offers. Shipping with the UK will be £45, to the US and Canada £165, to Europe £90. Everywhere else, please inquire.

2013 Year End Review- It Was A VERY Good Year! Part One...

Well, 2013 has been a VERY busy and successful year for Hattie and I but unfortunately, it meant that this blog was put on the back burner as there are so many hours in a day! I have lots planned for us in 2014 (including my side saddle book and us going to the Nationals) so I will try to keep it updated as much as I can.

Hattie did very well in showing this year and my living room is covered with the rosettes she won for me.

I also bought a new off-side riding habit as my green tweed one wasn't fitting as well as I would have liked it to and my blue Mears one, was just plain TOO big! The tweed one went to a lady how has a reversible side saddle so she bought the off-side apron as well but the Mears habit, went to a lady who only rides on the nearside so I got to keep my navy off-side apron as a schooling apron. I am VERY pleased with my new heavyweight green wool habit, which I ordered from Side Saddles and plan on getting a dark claret colored one made when I save up some more cash.

I have a feeling though, that my new habit will be just as lucky as my old ones!

The July 14, 2013 South Kilworth Riding Club show, we came 7th in Ridden Veteran and 4th in the Style and Appearance class. I wasn't really happy with our placings but at least I know Hattie and I performed our best with spot on rolling transitions and excellent turnout. Couldn't have asked Hattie to do better that day. This show was the last time I wore my blue habit as it was rather large on me that day. I was grateful for it's lightweight fabric as it was blazing hot outside in the sun!

Then a few days later, we had our accident in the Ford River. Hattie and I got scraped up and my Mayhew broke. Thankfully, both our injuries were superficial and Hattie healed up in time (quicker than me!!) for the July 28, 2013 Diamond Equestrian Show as well as the saddle being repaired by Johan of Viking Saddlery.

We came 5th in Best Turned Out (Hattie still had some scabby scrapes which still had purple spray on them), 2nd in Style and Appearance, 7th in Prettiest Mare, 4th in "Horse the Judge Would Like To Take Home" and a good 3rd in Riding Club Horse.

In this photo, you an still see the leftover purple spray marks where she scraped her hip when we went underwater. That stuff does not come off no matter how much shampoo you use!!!!

Hard to believe that just a few days before, we both had scabby scraped up knees! Lots of cleanin' 'n prayin' fixed our wounds.

August was spent keeping ourselves fit for the September shows and building up Hattie to be hunting fit for when we went out with the Quorn in October! Our work paid off and at the September 1, 2013 South Kilworth Riding Club Show, we came 4th in Best Turned Out, 6th in Ridden Veteran, 4th in Style and Appearance in the Showing Ring and 2nd in Riding Club Horse which was held in the Hunter Ring. I think next summer we will try some more classes in the Hunter Ring.

Hattie in the Riding Club Horse class held in the hunter ring, we came a respectable 2nd...

September was a very busy month with a show on 3 out of the 4 weekends. On the 22nd, was the last Diamond Equestrian Show before the championships which were held at the end of October. Hattie did really well coming 2nd in Best Turned Out, 2nd in Style and Appearance and 5th in Riding Club Horse.

I think the show I had been looking most forward to all year, was the Macmillan Charity Show. It's held at Weston Lawns which is a beautiful facility were show jumping and dressage competitions are regularly held but also because it was for a good cause.

The show was absolutely HUGE! The classes had massive amounts of entries in them so I only entered 2 showing classes that day. Despite only entering two classes, I didn't get home until it was about 9pm!
Hattie was her usual brilliant self and we really had to work for our rosettes as we had very stiff competition. I have never been so knackered after showing classes as much as I was that day but I feel that we really earned our rosettes.

We came 4th in the Ridden Showing class out of 35 riders (I was the only side saddle rider and of course, on the off-side!) and the judge decided to split the class to under 14.2hh and over 14.2hh due to the sheer number of riders she was going to have to judge! Ridden Showing was judged on turnout, the rider's equitation and the horse's conformation and way of going, so everything really! This was the last show in which I wore my tweed habit to.

First all the over 14.2's went round and did our individual shows, then the ponies came in and had their turn. Then the judge chose the top 6 in each section and we had to do an individual show again for the judge to whittle it down. Hattie and I held it together and nailed out transitions so they were rolling and smooth. We truly earned that 4th place!

The second ridden class, Riding Club Horse, wasn't held until late afternoon as there was an inhand class between the two ridden showing classes which took hours to get through due to the high number of entries. It was also a huge class, about 27 riders and we came 5th in that so not too shabby at all! It got rather exciting when we all had to canter around the ring at the same time and Hattie got rather strong but at least she didn't jump out of the ring like some of the horses did!

In our individual show, we show canter extension down the long side and we jumped the jump on both reins. I think Hattie was starting to lose it as it had been a long hot day as she was a bit strong and out transitions weren't as smooth or rolling as they had been earlier but still, she held it together long enough to earn our rosette.

Getting ready....

Hattie in the zone...

Hattie getting a "bit" strong with everyone cantering around in the Riding Club Horse class...

The Quorn Hunt chapter comes tomorrow but the last showing show of the season was the Diamond Equestrian Championships which was held on October 27, two days after we had been hunting!! This show was for all those competitors who placed 1-3 at any of the 4 Diamond Equestrian shows held over 2013 s cream of the crop really! It was a windy and rainy day but Hattie was her usual brilliant self and armed with my new riding habit, we came 1st in Style and Appearnace, 1st in In-hand Best Condition, 2nd in Best Turned Out, 2nd in Riding Club Horse, 3rd in In-hand Veteran PLUS two Champion sashes, one for In-hand and one for ridden!

Hattie still wasn't done yet with wining rosettes and we also won two reserve champions and a 3rd place champion at the South Kilworth Riding Club end of season points in November.

Roll on next year's shows!