Summer hack in Mount Juliet- May 2012

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The 13 of us heading off by the River Nore!

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Lined up in front of Mount Juliet

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Me on my trusty steed Tex, having a sup of Sloe Gin from my flask at the front door of Mount Juliet!

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A guide on WHAT NOT TO BUY when buying a side saddle online!!! by Becca Holland

  • It has become common place for experienced side saddle riders to post links of craptastic side saddles from eBay onto their Facebook pages, warning newbies to stay away at all cost!
    “I’d like to know what is wrong with the saddle please. Am new to the side saddle world and would like any helpful pointers on what to avoid for when I look for saddlery…..”
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    This is a question that experienced side saddle riders hear all too often from new comers who are desperate to get started and all too often rush out and buy the first ‘side saddle’ that they see for a cheap price on ebay. Be warned, those who buy cheap, buy dear!
    The following comment from Becca Holland (who is a member of the FLying Foxes Side Saddle Display Team in England) sums up the whole experience of ‘caveat emptor’ (Let the buyer beware)
  • Becca Holland: The big giveaway with these saddles is the position of the leaping head (lower pommel). To ride well the leaping head should be more or less directly under the fixed (upper) head. These saddles are made in India, but NOT by someone who has ever ridden (or possibly even seen) a horse. They are built on astride trees and are universally x x wide (to the point where they pretty much arrive flat!). They are not built up correctly on the left side, so will not stay central on pretty much any horse on the planet without 15 sofa cushions under them. They tend to slip left dangerously and are impossible to make comfortable for either horse or rider. The main things to look out for/avoid when looking at a sidesaddle are…
    1) colour, good black sidesaddles are very unusual. Most good sidesaddles are brown.
    2)Panels – most good sidesaddles have white linen/serge panels, when viewed from behind off the horse the left panel should appear more padded than the right.
    3) Price – Alas you are unlikely to pay much below £1500 for a good, solid well made second hand sidesaddle nowadays. A brand new, well made saddle is more likely to be pushing £2500 – £3000.
    4)If you see a saddle advertised as “nearly new, only used 5 times etc, great starter side saddle” for a low price, be very suspicious! It is most likely unrideable, and will turn some poor unsuspecting rider and their horse off side saddle for life!
    These are not hard and fast rules, for example an Hermes sidesaddle will usually have leather panels (but will also cost you £3-5000), and a lady on here has a beautiful black Stubben sidesaddle (but again, you won’t see this on Ebay for £200!)

Mount Juliet Hack October 2012

October 2012

The Side Saddle Association of Ireland met for their bi-annual trail ride at Mount Juliet, Co; Kilkenny on Saturday the 20th of October. It was a tremendous success, the sunmust always shine there because we had a fabulous day again!

The first ride consisted of Ann Shouldice, Sarah Furney, Emily Meredith and Annemarie Walsh all on their own horses, then on the hire horses we had Rosemary English, Karen Gibney and her sister Hannah Gibney, Evelyn Glynn, Rachel Lawlor, Maura Mansfield, the little girl Claire (who was FANTASTIC on the hire pony Grey Harry!).

The riders who were assembling for the advanced ride very kindly lent their habits and saddles so all of the beginners were suitably attired and looked very smart indeed. Claire started out with her daddy Flor leading her, after about five minutes progressed to Susan leading her alongside her own mount, and then took off on her own. Claire is a rider to watch for the future and is now aiming to be out at the Duhallow children’s meet side saddle!

Sarah and Emily jumped most of the cross country course in great style to get ready for the hunting season. It goes without saying that Susan Oakes was the ringleader in the XC and she got nearly all over the beginners going over banks and uprights.

The second ride was made up of Ciara O’Connell, Sarah Furney again, Susan Oakes, Rachel Blayney Woods, Esther O’Kane, Iseult O’Cleary, Kalindi Lawrence, Thalia Smithwick O’Brien, Verity O’Mahony and Lynne Hincks. Everyone went in all four gears and also jumped the cross country. A flask of port was passed around and relished by all. We all went home very tired but happy!We would like to say a huge thank you to Jenny and her team from Mount Juliet Equestrian Centre who supplied such wonderful horses and such a fantastic experience for us all, and also to the livery owners from Mount Juliet who made their horses available for the hack too.

Mount Juliet Hack, October 2012

The Side Saddle Association of Ireland met for their bi-annual trail ride at Mount Juliet, Co; Kilkenny on Saturday the 20th of October. It was a tremendous success, the sun must always shine there because we had a fabulous day again!

The first ride consisted of Ann Shouldice, Sarah Furney, Emily Meredith and Annemarie Walsh all on their own horses, then on the hire horses we had Rosemary English, Karen Gibney and her sister Hannah Gibney, Evelyn Glynn, Rachel Lawlor, Maura Mansfield, and Claire Madden (who was FANTASTIC on the hire pony Grey Harry!).

The riders who were assembling for the advanced ride very kindly lent their habits and saddles so all of the beginners were suitably attired and looked very smart indeed. Claire started out with her daddy Flor leading her, after about five minutes progressed to Susan leading her alongside her own mount, and then took off on her own. Claire is a rider to watch for the future and is now aiming to be out at the Duhallow children’s meet side saddle!

Sarah and Emily jumped most of the cross country course in great style to get ready for the hunting season. It goes without saying that Susan Oakes was the ringleader in the XC and she got nearly all over the beginners going over banks and uprights.

The second ride was made up of Ciara O’Connell, Sarah Furney again, Susan Oakes, Rachel Blayney Woods, Esther O’Kane, Iseult O’Cleary, Kalindi Lawrence, Thalia Smithwick O’Brien, Verity O’Mahony and Lynne Hincks. Everyone went in all four gears and also jumped the cross country. A flask of port was passed around and relished by all. We all went home very tired but happy! We would like to say a huge thank you to Jenny and her team from Mount Juliet Equestrian Centre who supplied such wonderful horses and such a fantastic experience for us all, and also to the livery owners from Mount Juliet who made their horses available for the hack too.

I also have a bit of news! I was two months pregnant when these photos were taken 🙂 This was the last time I rode before giving Tex away to a friend for the remainder of my pregnancy 😦 as I was so afraid of falling off and something going wrong! I knew Rachel would look after her well and have lots of fun on her too!

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Claire Madden was the youngest recruit on the day, here she is at the start being led by her dad Flor. Before long, Susan was leading her alongside, ImageImage

and by the end was jumping the cross country fences!

we took a couple of hip flask breaks… although I couldn’t indulge! Whatever concoction Emily Meredith had in it, gave everyone wings!

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I was being careful due to the little life inside me! Image

With a heavy heart I handed Tex over to my friend the next day, I had had an absolutely amazing, side saddle filled year in 2012 but now it was time to concentrate on my bump!

National Country Fair, August 2012

The first annual National Country Fair was held in Borris House, Co. Carlow on the August bank holiday 2012. I had been asked to put together a display, so I wrote a commentary and rounded up three friends to take part. We were due to take part in the display in Dublin a couple of weeks later so agreed that all the noise and excitement would be a good experience for our horses! What we hadn’t counted on, was that there would be a clay pigeon shooting competition in the neighbouring field during our display! The horses behaved remarkably well, considering all the gunshot 🙂 Our display was very well received with a lot of interested spectators lining the arena while we were riding. 

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RDS side saddle display 2012

The RDS (Royal Dublin Society) Horse Show invited the Side Saddle Association to put on a display at their annual show to be held in August 2012. I immediately signed up to take part in the display as I had ALWAYS wanted to ride at the Dublin Horse Show, but seeing as I never competed in anything as a child and only at a very low level as an adult in the riding club, I had never had the opportunity before. We had to attend two training days, one in Tipperary and one in Wicklow. There were quite a few riders taking part and we learned a lot during the training!

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Horse show week arrived, I travelled to Dublin with Tex and my new side saddle friends Verity and Emily and their horses SueEllen and Duke 🙂 Having never ridden at Dublin before, I couldn’t believe the rigmarole when it came to dropping off horses, unloading gear, locking tack boxes, trying to find parking…!

We had a 5am start on the morning of Ladies Day, as we had to be mounted for a full practice in ring 3 (the sand arena) for 6am! I maintain that I always ride better when I have the habit and all the other formal gear on…

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To be allowed to take part in the display at such a prestigious show was a huge honour and we were turned out immaculately- as Verity, Emily, Sarah and I left the stables to ride down to the practice ring at 1:30, people stopped, stared and smiled!

Our display was held at 2pm on the grass in ring 2. I was paired with Emily and Duke, we walked, trotted and cantered around the arena while a commentary was read out.

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I was still smiling a week later, Tex went very well for me and I think she enjoyed all the attention too! Extra carrots for supper that evening. I was delighted to have fit into my size 8 habit, the only reason for that was that I was on a strict wedding dress diet, I got married the following week 😀

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