..horses sidesaddle. Although all of them are American Saddlebreds, I am so facinated by the fact that each and every one is so very different!. The first boy I started on, whose tiny picure on on the sideline of my blog where is says "my first sidesaddle lesson" is a gelding I own who is a rescued Saddlebred. His name is Chastain.. his registered name I should say since we were able to reunite him with his papers after the rescue. He is a retired show horse and has that "I am still somebody" air about him. He has a fancy little trot and is actually a gaited horse.. but he gets grumpy when asked to canter. He is an older boy and is a bit low backed. As a first timer in the sidesaddle he was very accommodating for me .. until I got to the point where I wanted to canter.. then we had issues.
Next up was my Oliver! Oh I just love Oliver. He can be firey hot at times.. and FANCY... but I think if there was ever a horse who knew he looked really cool in a sidesaddle - it is my Ollie! Oliver, at the time I had no idea, was a difficult horse to ride aside, which probaby made him a great teacher for me! His punchy, sewing machine like trot, which is quite adorable, was a bit .. punchy on my back. and my butt.. and my right thigh. Oliver made me really dig into myself and decide if I wanted to do this or not.. He made me concentrate at every moment.. or I would have gone flying off of him when he got spooked once and did a full 360 on me like a million dollar Quarter Horse! He made me work to get the correct gear .. all the way down to a good fitting corset, which I credit for saving my lower back.. (thank you a million times over Karen!) He made me realize that I needed to step up my commitment - lose the extra pounds and covert some fat into much needed muscle!
Look anywhere in this blog and you can see pictures of Oliver!
When Oliver popped a bad quarter crack that would surely keep him out of the show ring for many months.. I was not sure what I was going to do. Sport, the young horse in training was not ready to be ridden aside... so you can just imagine my utter excitement when Sandy, the head trainer at Bluebonnet Farm told me she wanted me to try riding one of her upper level lesson horses aside. That is when I started working with Jose. Jose was the MOST ELEGANT of all the horses I have ridden sidesaddle. With his tall stature combined with his long long long neck.. Oh - there was no sidesaddle that was going to diminish his presence! Not only that, but Jose's trot was a breeze to ride compared to Oliver's. A woman who was in the process of writting a book on sidesaddle ask me if she could use a picture of Jose and I in her book as a representative for the American Saddlebred!! What an honor that was to me!!
At this point, I think the farm started to get a few questions and inquieries about riding sidesaddle. No one had actually shown up to take sidesaddle lessons, but I know Sandy was answering some questions about it all. It was then that she decided to try out a second farm horse named Chip. Chippers is a great horse, but he has a secret. He is cool as a cucumber at home - almost appearing lazy, but this is one horse who just loves to go to a show. He is totally safe - so I don't want to give you the wrong idea, but he gets all cute and fixy, raising up his tail and sqatting down a little in the back end when he gets revved up. Funny and very interesting thing though, although Chippers is pretty easy to trot aside, the more showy he is, the easier it is to trot.... go figure! Don't tell - but I finally learned how to get Chippers the show horse to come out of his shell at the barn! Chip is a blast and with him, I won one of my very best ribbons.. I placed 2nd out of 6 riders.
After a lot of prayer and a super calm feeling in my heart about it.. which to me signifies a YES answer to my prayers... I came to the barn one Sunday, with my sidesaddle under my arm and I stopped at Sports stall. You probably already know this story. I expected him to be the most difficult of horses to ride aside. Not for his attitude, for out of all of my horses he is the one who desires to please beyond belief, but for his motion. I saw high motion as the determining factor for the difficulty in riding aside. Long story short... I was just plain WRONG! As with Mr Chippers, the more game and animated this horse is, the easier it is to trot with him - to the point of such smoothness, I once thought he was slow gaiting! I am so excited about this brave gelding ..I can hardly stop babbling on and on about him. Because he is young and because I have never ridden a 5 gaited horse aside until Sport.. we are learning how to be a competative team...but more on that later..
I will post so many pictures of Sport after I start showing him... you will get sick of seeing his cute little face!
The newest horse in my sidesaddle tale is an older girl named Rose. Rose, like the others is a full blooded American Saddlebred. She is considered to be a gaited mare however, it is almost impossible to get this girl into a trot. She loves to slow gait and rack. Now she can get a bit pacey.. but with her, I can do all kinds of manuvers ~ like figure 8's, practicing correct hand and body position without worry of her falling out of gait. In essence I can become a more natural rider with these newest gaits, learning how aid Sport hopefully without having to think too much before puting the aids into motion! After all, isn't that what we all strive for .. to be the best rider to bring out the best in our horses, no matter what breed of horse you ride or what type of tack you use?
Sadly, I do not have a photo of Rose... I will have to snap one next time I am at the barn. There are no plans to show Rose, but that does not mean she has not been a good part of my growth as a sidesaddle rider!
I have loved this journey and pray it continues for as long as I am a resident on this earth.... and then continues right on into heaven!!