Thursday, January 23, 2014

The inaugural side saddle ride!

Woo hoo! Today was fun! I took the saddle out and hopped on. Well, not just hopped on. I warmed up with groundwork and then astride to insure a pleasant horsey. I was totally nervous! But my darling pony was so good. He is just a gem of a horse.

He was a little tripped out at first. Like, hey lady, where's your other leg?! But he rose to the occasion like a champ.

So, the experience went like this:

I warmed him up western and left his headstall with leverage bit and nice long reins. I have all the proper* stuff heading my way in the mail, but until then... 

So, I mounted at the block. Wow, not easy. The leaping head was weird to get my leg around. Dismounting was equally interesting. I think it might take some time to be able to do that gracefully.

I ride both western and english and this saddle felt totally weird! I kind of sat there for a minute, thinking, oh god, the saddle is going to slide over. I found myself leaning far to the offside, or to the right, trying to compensate. I honestly didn't even walk forward for about ten minutes. 

But waiting was good. While sitting there, not worrying about him moving, I kind of relaxed into the seat. The goal is to be square and balanced on the saddle, so from behind, you look just the same as when riding astride (but missing a leg lol). You don't want to lean to the right, like I was.

So, once I got settled into the seat a little, I asked him to walk. It took him a moment to walk forward and not just sideways. I used a stick on his offside to simulate my right leg's cues. He was a little confused at first, but he's a pretty smart little guy, and soon enough, we were walking around in nice little circles! Yay! We even went up and down a hill :)

I just walked today, but it was pretty neat. My trainer hopped on and got right to cantering! This is new for both of us, but she is super game for everything and I got a ton of manuals and books (new and period) and we will figure this out! I'm super excited. 

* Now, for that asterisk I threw up there next to "proper." English showing, in general, has a million rules on what you and your horse wear. If english has a million, riding aside has a billion! It's amazing. They even have rules as to what kind of sandwich you keep in your canteen! Traditionally, cucumber, or plain turkey, edges cut off, cut in four and wrapped in clean linen, in case you were wondering! And sherry or tea in your flask is a must.

And, if you must carry and sandwich and flask, well, you need the proper thing to put it in. A canteen! Mine was waiting for me when I got home this afternoon. I unpacked it and it is lovely. I love the accessories!! It's like the best part of anything. 

The canteen has a more necessary, modern purpose, too. The spot for the sandwich case fits my phone perfectly. Just in case you're out on the trail and something happens...

So all in all, it was a fun, happy day. Yay!


  1. Fun! You look pretty comfortable to me, anyway. It's so neat to hear all the small things you're learning as you do it: things a person wouldn't think about until they've tried it out.


  2. Thanks for this post! I've always been fascinated with riding aside but have never had the opportunity to try it. I grew up riding English and did a few 4-H shows here and there but it was mostly trail and backyard riding. Sometimes we didn't even bother with a saddle. (great way to build up leg strength by the way)
    I have a couple pdf newspaper files saved about riding aside that I can send to you if you are interested. I don't remember the exact dates but I know they are late Victorian. About the same time a very interesting "safety skirt" was introduced. It's kind of a half skirt that looks very nice when the women is in the saddle but when walking, gasp! you could see her legs.

    Emily's Vintage Visions

  3. You've probably seen this already but it's an interesting read. "THE HORSEWOMAN A Practical Guide to Side-Saddle Riding"
    Also Thornton's International System of Ladies' Garment Cutting
    (London, c.1912) Riding And Cycling Dress

    Emily's Vintage Visions