Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Every Year I am Asked to Write..

..a story that is published in our local TASHA membership book. This year - I thought ..well, here I am doing this new that is what I should write about!

Here it is:

I seem to have attracted quite a bit of attention since I decided to show my Saddlebred in Sidesaddle. I get a lot stares, a lot of compliments and a TON of questions! Among the most common questions are, Is it hard...YES! How do you stay on? LOTS of Prayers and a strong right thigh! ..and one I did not expect... How do you get on?

How I mount when riding in full costume aside:

The one stirrup I use is as short as a jockey stirrup, so mounting from the ground, even on a smallish size Saddlebred is difficult, and I would say impossible for any over the age of..(ahem). I have sadly reached that age.

A standard size 2 step mounting block is NOT sufficient either as it will still not raise (me) up high enough to get my left foot into the stirrup. I had to purchased a 4 step ladder. Okay so now that you know I am not know for my grace and agility. I am going to try and describe how I mount the sidesaddle.

My skirts are typically 2-6 inches longer than I am. This is just my preference because I like the look...when riding (not fun to walk in though!) Assuming a position that would look like I am about to dive into a pool, I scoop the entire skirt up from the back and lop it over my right arm. Having someone heading the horse, it is also helpful if they pull the saddle to counter balance it for me. I tell Oliver what a good horse he is..because he stands perfectly still during this dangerous acrobatic maneuver! I carefully climb my staircase all the way to the top, gingerly place my left foot into the stirrup and mount astride. I then transfer the skirt over to the left arm and swing my right leg over the fixed head, so that now, both of my legs are on the left side of the horse. I pat Oliver on the neck and thank him for being such a good boy. I release my skirt down over my left and right legs. I grab his mane and putting most of my weight into the left stirrup, I stand up while my trainer (and such a great friend for doing this!) literally shoves her hands under me, (MOST un-lady like and embarrassing!) pushing, pulling and shifting my skirt until it is flat and not bunched under the seat of my saddle. It is now that I wish it was 1890 and I could do it the old fashioned way, where a lady would just have a very strong, tall and handsome (of course!) groom to lift me into the saddle...but back to reality here!

Before I walk off, the girth and balance strap must again be tightened to tourniquet strength, as it is impossible to ride aside if the saddle slips out of place at all.

...and again..I tell Oliver what a good and patient boy he is for putting up with all of this!

I do not like for people to watch me mount as I feel it dissolves some of the mystique of riding much is hidden under all those skirts you know! In fact, I would prefer if no one ever saw me riding aside in pants, but for practice, it is not logical to ride in a skirt. At least though, I do get to dismount the old fashioned fact this is half the fun of it all. You see, I ask Kelli to hunt down a tall, strong and young (bad Julie!) man to assist me. I have to take my left foot out of the stirrup, unhook my right leg from the fixed head of the saddle so that I am literally sitting sideways before I slip down the side of the horse, buffered by a gentleman's that the bulk of my weight does not strike the ground with brute force that vibrates all the bones in my legs and brings tears to my eyes!

...and for those of you who talk about me as I ride by you down the rail..yeah - I can hear you ...and NO, I do not have a big set of balls!

(okay - so I admit it.. I did not include this last sentence in the membership book...ONLY because kids have access to it ...BUT I REALLY WANTED TO!)


KD said...

I have to admit, I was wondering how you mounted - thanks!

sidesaddle rider said...

I bought a 4' ladder too!
I once got the bright idea to put the stirup down as far as it would go in order to mount from a 1' step. As I reached the top of my ascent I realized the stirup was too low for me to be able to swing my leg over. At the last second I hopped up from the stirup. Put a wee bit too much effort into it and completely dove over the saddle. never even touched the seat. Before I knew it I was on the ground on the off side. The only "gentleman" around was laughing too hard to be of any assistance. And I swear my horse started looking around the arena whistling as though to say, "I don't know her. Never saw her before in my life."

Michelle said...

I can totally relate! The mounting process has to be the most ungraceful/unladylike portion of riding sidesaddle (for me anyways!) lol.
My method usually involves climbing up the metal panels along the one side of the arena and swinging a leg over. If someone is there I'll see if I can mooch a leg up. Usually with success too because everybody wants to see me ride sidesaddle!
We did learn how to put each other up at the clinic I went to. It was possible for us to put each other up suprisingly easily (even on my really tall mare!).