Or, in other words, some of my side saddle adventures:-)
I have been riding since I was 8 – and although I did some show jumping and cross country work in my teenage years, I was always more interested in doing things a bit differently – loved hacking and covering distance – going on long trails was always welcome! In the Uk, I spent a few years riding for a cavalry regiment for the English Civil War Society – swashing my sword and firing carabines from horseback was by far much more interesting!
I have tried some horseback archery and Roman riding with a group Comitatus – great fun!
Nowadays I mostly hunt in Devon and Somerset, riding lovely thoroughbred horses blessed with amazing stamina – going up and down those hills there for 6-7 hours sometimes is by no means a mean feat!
But I have always wanted to give a side saddle a go – to canter through the fields as a real lady would, all style and elegance. Well, in the recent years SS seems to have been enjoying a come back – and so an opportunity arose one winter, a few years ago, when I was introduced to Michelle who hunts sidesaddle on Exmoor.
The first lesson went well, and I rode a few times under Michelle’s tutelage – but alas, it turned out to be pure torture! my right knee was in agony after about 20 minutes. and so I thought that my wonky knees were not really designed for side saddle. I didnt know much about it then and it wasnt till I met Becca Holland, currely working at Audley End House, who suggested that maybe the saddle was just too short for me. Michelle is petite – me – not so much!
Spirits were raised and i was determined to give it another go. As i just got engaged at that time, i wanted to ride side saddle after the ceremony – so I also had another excuse to learn the skill!
The first lesson was a success – the saddle was bigger and I was really comfortable in it – no knee problems! The mount, lovely, grumpy Henry, was gentle and understanding, and Becca is simply a superb teacher…
I also discovered that turning to your left can end up badly – my first fall was even captured on the camera ( almost, before hubby turned it off and rushed to rescue – unnecessarily asmy bowler hat was made of sturdy stuff an survived the impact… )video here .
but after a few more tips, I was much more confident and the canter/trot transitions were coming along nicely
After that lesson weather worsened and all I was able to do is to plod around on the frozen grounds, modeling my growing collection of habits.
Here at a show and tell event, sporting a 1785 riding habit in wool – double wool vest , wool skirt and jackets meant I was not frozen!
And another one, this time 1910 habit…
But then the spring came and we started training more – and after a few more lessons, and no more falls, I was allowed to go outside and play in a bigger field.
Soon it was time to try something else – jumping! and to make sure I do it properly i was asked to do it without a bridle…video of the first very awkward jump here
As my jumping progressed, we started to add toys – at one lesson i did a lot of jumping and throwing speers at boars – at another i was piercing balloons with a sabre – endless fun!
In the end, i was able to do Becca’s favourite trick – jumping over a table and snatchign a glass of champagne while flying over – here is my practice run!
We also included a dress rehearsal before my wedding – just making sure if the Victorian undergarments worked. they did – though I must say we naver had so much audience as when doing the dress rehearsal training!
Alas for my wedding henry had an injured tendon, so I was using one of the hunters – poor boy had a saddle only once before, but luckily it fitted, and despite the owner’s fretting we were able to canter away just after the ceremony! vids here and here
Since then another habit was made… this time 1885, in blue wool, with elaborate frogging
We have also had the pleasure to witness the first side saddle point to point since 1921 – a few piccies here…
This spring i hope to continue the training so that next season I am able to do some hunting aside – fingers crossed.
in the meantime, have a look at Beccas Video: How to ride Sidesaddle like a Victorian Lady
or visit the blog of the Flying foxes – http://flyingfoxes.org.uk/tag/side-saddle/
there are also articles how to make them available on amazon:
the 18th century one
the 1810 one..
and the most asked for, the blue , 1885 habit
04/2014 update – a few more habits and ss adventures happened:-)
a nice training session at Thurleigh Equestrian Centre, sporting my blue habit…
and a Steampunk shoot too ( from the Steampunk Amazones Collection)
Then a green habit for a customer – love the colour choice here! 🙂
and the newest, 1860(ish) habit – a stock item the shop:-)