I laughed when I read this - but honestly, I want to change it to say,
"WELCOME TO RIDING ~ YOU ARE NOW BLESSED!"
I hope you have a few minutes, because I want to tell you a story... so go and get a cup of whatever you like, sit back and enjoy:
I think I was 48 years old when I started my sidesaddle journey. I have loved horses all my life and started riding saddleseat seriously when I was 34. I am so thankful that I did not let my age, or the perception of my age get in the way of my sidesaddle aspirations because it has opened so many doors in my life and it is one of those doors that I want to share with you today... the door of new friends.
When I started my journey, I started writting this blog. I used it as a place to store information for myself as I was unable to find an accredited instructor to help me learn. I really never thought many would read it .. but I was wrong. I have met so many wonderful ladies who have given me their time and attention in helping me to learn .... and in turn, I have been able to offer myself to others who have contacted me about learning to ride aside.
I helped one young lady write a class presentation, guided many about the woes of purchasing 'cheap' sidesaddles, offered several of my own photographs to be used in presentations and books to further sidesaddle riding and in a few cases, where I have met ladies who are local to me, have offered my horses and sidesaddles for trial. I just love riding aside and want to share it in any way that I can.
One such lady I met on Facebook. Her name is Elaina and she came as an experienced dressage rider who had started her journey, like me, by herself. She owned a vintage sidesaddle, had a willing mount but just wanted that extra person there the first time she cantered aside. We talked for some time and I invited her out to the farm. It was such a rare pleasure to meet a young lady interested in riding sideaddle. She is an old soul in a young body and we hit it off instantly.
I saddled up Oliver, introduced them and we headed out to the round pen. Elaina rides Quarter Horses, so my first directive was to assure her that Oliver's high head carriage was natural and he was not going to rear up on her! Now, my sweet Ollie has the worst sidesaddle trot.... but the nicest canter. After a few walking circles to get her comfortable, I explained this to her and asked her to trot. In no time, Elaina was sitting back and at ease. It was easy to tell that she was an experienced rider. Again, I explained if she could handle his trot, the canter was going to be very easy. She looked anxoius as she tipped his head and asked for the canter. I think Oliver took 2 strides before Elaina had a huge smile on her face and realized I was telling her the truth! I just love moments like this!!! Elaina could have easily done all of this by herself on her own horse, but sometimes you just need an extra person for moral support. I really did nothing more than stand there and cheer for her.
With that one experience, Elaina went home and started riding her horse Reo aside with new found confidence. She worked diligently and decided to enter him in an open show in a couple of Hunter Classes, riding aside ....and it was in this show that Elaina won her very first blue ribbon!!! I could not be more excited for her if I had really been the one to teach her how to ride!
We kept chatting and tried to come up with a time we could ride again, this time with her bringing Reo with her to Equus Villa. Last weekend every thing fell into place, including the weather! This time though the tables were turned... you see, this time Elaina was helping me do a couple of things and taking on the instructors roll. I have introduced my daughters horse, Southern Revival to the sidesaddle, but had yet had the chance to ride him outside of the round pen, nor had I ridden him in a skirt allowing him to experience the feel the fabric along his side. Not only were we able to do all of this, but Rev was so comfortable with it all, we decided to go trail riding!! Our farm is nested along with many other farms encapsulating about 1000 acres with many trails between the boundries. Rev used the confidence of Reo's gentle nature to take in all the new sites without fear and we were able to trot and canter along the way. So sad there was not a camera to document this amazing day... but wait - because it got even better.
After we returned to the barn, I untacked Rev and was able to try something new. Elaina let me ride Reo!! He is a very very nice dressage mount who is trained to do a lot of upper level moves I have only experienced visually. She instructed me as we did moves foreign to me like extended trots and sidepasses. I somehow managed to get him so sidepass backwards!! Reo was so sensitive, that he tattled on me when my legs would accidently touch his side thinking I was asking him for a canter. What a wonderful horse Reo was. He was so patient with me, even after our long trail ride!!!
Thank you Elaina!! ..and I am still grinning!