This is a post for beginners .. but do you know what? This is a post for beginners of all categories - all dreams .. not just sidesaddle dreams.
This is my story:
At the age of 48 I decided it was now or never. Although I was is relatively good physical shape, I decided then it was now or never for learning how to ride aside. Many things fell into place ... great Blessings to be perfectly honest .. so that I was able to start this journey. I was given a horse for free, I found a nice antique sidesaddle that was rideable for a price that I could afford at that time and I was advised by a show manager that I would be allowed to ride aside in our breed shows in almost any class!
I looked long and hard for an accredited instructor. The main sidesaddle club of Texas is breed specific to Paso Fino horses, a breed that does not trot. A secondary club was not helpful to me because they were stagnant, and even though I offered our farm for a place to hold a riding clinic, I could never get anyone to agree.
I did have a friend/trainer who used to ride aside with Arabians and she so graciously agreed to help me with my endeavor. I was thrilled to find someone to help me.
Weekly, I hauled my horse Oliver over to her farm with my sidesaddle equipment and we worked very hard. At night, I would read everything and anything I could get my hands on to assist me with this dream. I bought books from e-bay, and journaled my experiences in this very blog.
It was HARD... very very hard. Almost seemingly too hard. I had a few good rides, but seemed to get exhausted too fast. Oliver was such a trooper. He learned how to trot slow for me, but still have the animation so desired by the Saddlebred owners.
I decided it was time to go to a show. With Saddlebreds, at the time, there were no clear rules about sidesaddle showing. There were no sidesaddle classes, but at one particular show where Saddlebreds showed with Arabians, there was 1 class for any breed of horse sidesaddle, and that is what I set my sights upon.
I was thrilled to learn of a very few ladies who had, in the past ridden Saddlebred's aside. One even wrote me and told me she was going to be at this particular show. I was so excited. I wanted to meet her. I wanted her to look at my horse, at my sidesaddle and I even asked her to give me a lesson time permitting. I was so hungry for knowledge and instruction.
We arrived at the show. Oliver gets very amped up at horse shows and is 10 times more difficult to ride - no matter what the saddle choice is! I went to the show office and asked if anyone there knew this woman. The show manager knew her and I asked if she could relay a message that I was there.
I was to show in 3 different classes. 2 were saddlebred classes and 1 was the any breed sidesaddle class. This was over a 3 day period. The entire time I was at this show, I tried in earnest to locate this woman and could not. I left messages with anyone who said they knew her, advising where I was stalled and other information, so she could have easily gotten ahold of me..... and it never happened.
I showed in my 3 classes. Oliver was as amped up as ever. In the all breed class, I was the only entry. At one point, Oliver lurched forward and I almost lost my balance, but did not. Obviously, I finished the class and claimed my ribbon. I am proud of that ribbon.
This woman... the one whom I thought was going to help me... the one who at one point in my life, I thought was a kind of mentor to me ... I found out was in center ring with the judge during that class. She could not find 5 minutes in her schedule to help out a struggling beginner... but do you know what she did find time to do? She wrote me to tell me that the judge thought that I was going to come off of Oliver and wanted to dismiss me from the class.
I cried for 2 days ... and came very very close to giving up on my dream.
This woman was very experienced. I can only guess that because I was such a bad sidesaddle rider at that time, she did not want to associate with me.. who knows... and who cares..
The sad part is .. she probably could have easily identified that my sidesaddle did not come close to fitting Oliver. I'll bet that she could have quickly seen that when I got scared, I would wrap my left leg under the horses belly .. so much so that my upper leg would pop out of the protective head of the saddle and that is when I was putting myself into danger... and so many other little things that I have since learned that I was doing wrong..
but that was then ... and this is now.. So no matter what your dream is... DO NOT LET DREAM SQUASHERS TRIP YOU UP. Keep your head up. There really are good people out there who will help you and encourage you. Just surround yourself with those and shake off the others.