Tex goes to Hollywood (15th July 2013)

Back in May, I got through to a show on RTE Radio to take part in a quiz. When they asked me what I had gotten up to for the weekend I explained that I had been at a side saddle weekend in Kilkenny. Intrigued, the presenter asked me to explain more about side saddle, so of course off I took off chatting all about it. Listening in that day in RTE was a lady named Martina McGlynn who was in the middle of making a low budget movie in Offaly, set in 1920s Ireland (during the War of Independence). ย It was called ‘A Nightingale Falling’. She got my contact details and rang me to tell me about the film and to ask whether I would be interested in advising them on a possible side saddle scene in the film! Immediately I offered to bring my own horse Tex (Texas Diamond) and all of my vintage gear. Initially she asked the director to just film a short sequence of one of the actresses riding down the avenue of the house but when the second lead actress in the film heard about it she begged to be allowed to ride side saddle too and the scriptwriter ended up writing a whole scene around it. I asked my friend Hanna in Laois whether she would be interested in supplying her horse Filip (show name Fairflax) and she readily agreed. Another friend of mine, Emily, kindly lent her saddle and habit to be used as well.

On the 15th of July we loaded up the two horses and gear into Hanna’s jeep and set off for Daingean. At this stage Charlotte was just six weeks old so Rachel came along to babysit ๐Ÿ™‚ ย We met Tara and Muireann (the actresses) and introduced them to the horses. They were so excited getting dressed in all the gear and bowler hats! They looked absolutely STUNNING.



They had to ride up and down the avenue a couple of times to be filmed from different angles. Filip got a bit bored and started pawing the ground and nipping Tex, he is such a show off ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Tara and Muireann were ad libbing all the way through but it turned out absolutely great. Martina is hoping that the film will do the rounds of the film festivals and be shown in Irish cinemas too. Here’s hoping!

I had almost forgotten about it until the film trailer clip came up on You Tube, you can see it here:



Preparing for the RDS Side Saddle display 2013

This year, there were no side saddle classes held at the RDS Dublin Horse Show. Instead, the organisers asked the one and only Miss Susan Oakes to put on some sort of a display. Susan put her thinking cap on and came up with the idea of an exciting display that would show case side saddle riding though five different disciplines, with some of the best riders in the country taking part. The display would showcase Susan Oakes for show jumping, Jennifer Torrance for showing, Jonah Wragg for hunting, Amie Garrigan for Concours d’Elegance and Hanna Bjoremark for dressage. I offered to write the commentary and in a bid to advertise the display I also set up a facebook event page on the SSA Ireland facebook page with some ‘taster’ photographs of what the display would entail.

The following entries are from the event page:

Jennifer Torrance will give a display based on ‘Showing’. Jennifer will be riding her own gelding ‘Peppermint Paddy V’ and will show us how to show off your horse to the best advantage at a competition, for a judge. She will also demonstrate how to mount and dismount correctly as well as trotting her horse up in hand to show the crowd what the saddle looks like. Jennifer is a side saddle instructor based in Co. Roscommon. She has been riding side saddle since 2003 and was a member of the Legover Ladies team chase team as well as the ‘Bit on the Side’ side saddle display team in England. Photo copyright Sinead Ni Riain.


Amie Garrigan has been riding side saddle since the age of 8, coming up through the IPS ranks. She has trained every horse she has ever had to carry a side saddle. Amie has been concentrating on eventing for the last number of years. She will be displaying Concours d’Elegance at the horse show. She will be wearing a beautiful historical costume. Concours is judged on the overall elegance and picture as well as the way of going of the horse.


Jonah (Jonnie) Wragg will be promoting the art of hunting whilst riding side saddle. Jonnie has hunted side saddle her whole life with packs all over Ireland and the United Kingdom. She has also evented, hunter trialled and point to pointed ‘sideways’. She will be jumping the banks in ring two as part of her display and will be dressed in a beautiful tweed habit.


Susan Oakes from Navan, Co Meath will be showcasing showjumping on the day. She will be jumping her stallion SIEC Atlas. The pair jumped 1m85cm in England recently in their bid to set a new world record. Susan has also ridden side saddle her whole life. She recently won a side saddle point to point in England and also set a world record by organising 50 ladies from all over Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, America, Sweden, Italy, France and the Czech Republic to come hunting ‘side ways’ in Co. Meath


Hanna Bjoremark Deegan will be promoting the art of dressage whilst riding side saddle. Hanna is originally from Sweden and will be riding her home bred swedish warmblood gelding ‘Fairflax’. This dressage partnership has previously won the advanced open riding club championship. Side saddles can be used for any competitions run under Dressage Ireland rules. On the day, Hanna will display some advanced moves such as piaffe, passage, half pass, shoulder in, counter canter, pirouhettes, etc.


We had a practice at our secretary’s house, and I had to come dressed in my habit so that the ladies in charge could check that I was presentable.

My job on the day of the show would be to be dressed in all the gear and available to answer questions from the public. However I was very pleased and surprised to be asked to read out my commentary on the day at the horse show! My friend Lorna was also going to be on hand to help answer questions and to hand out leaflets about our next Have a Go Day. So I added these photos to the event page too:


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!



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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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…


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.


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 ๐Ÿ˜€