by Tam Thompson
Wonky day 12/2/17
On 12th February I attended a sidesaddle unmounted rally at Pittern Hill Stables by kind invitation of Roger Philpott and Ginny Oakley - who are the masters of all things sidesaddle! The morning was spent in the (freezing cold) school, watching riders and horses of varying experience jumping a small grid. We saw a lady who is new to jumping wonky but not new to wonky and her amazing horse. Then 3 ladies (one of whom was partially sighted and who never moved in the saddle - perfect balance) who are intermediates jumping wonky though experts at sidesaddle. Finally we were given a demo by a rider who has won sidesaddle rider of the year SIX times jumping a racehorse fairly new off the track.
A-maze-ing dahhhling, and in equal parts thrilling and fascinating to watch. Lean your left shoulder towards your horse's right bit ring seems to be the key to not falling off! And kick on because a long flat jump is much easier to sit than a showjumping style bounce upwards. By default Beau takes a stride out so maaaaybe we will get to actually doing this. In the afternoon we had a lecture on sidesaddle turnout and keeping your hippo clean for shows from a lady who has won just about everything sidesaddle and looks the dream in all her photos - beautiful. There are way too many turnout rules for my tiny brain though, I can tell you. The day was mostly about meeting other sidesaddle obsessives and chatting. I made a lovely new friend, rekindled an old friendship with a lady who is also in CVRC, and learned that at the novice show in March there will be 3 of us riding in homemade habits :D (if we don't bail before then!!)
Step 1 - buy a cutaway jacket from eBay for £15. I know that's cheating, but I work full time and there is a limit to my skill, time and patience. Besides, making a jacket would probably have cost me more than buying a brand new one by the time i'd replaced the fabric six times to correct my errors.
Step 2 - find a pattern in an old book on the bookshelf. Looks easy enough...and whilst searching for said book I came across one written by my now good friend Ginny, but which I bought before I knew her!
Step 3 - transfer the pattern to paper. This bit was distressing (i had to measure myself) and took for EVER! But I did it.
Step 4 - Make apron from old sheet to practise. Lucky I did this because I couldn't follow the pattern instructions without getting muddled, and the apron would not quite have covered my breeches! Also there was not enough allowance for the hemming. I am not blaming the pattern, I am 100% sure that my transferring (ambitious) measurements to brown paper was responsible.
Step 5 - 19th Feb - make apron in real fabric. Try to avoid assistance from the cat:
I was lucky enough to find a near perfect fabric match to my cutaway by buying samples off eBay for fabrics that looked similar. All I need to do is try not to waste too much of it! Evening 1 was completed early when I realised I'd added darts backwards in my lining fabric and fell out with my sewing machine. Tomorrow will be spent unpicking said darts...
I only have a month to do this! I hope I can complete it and end up with something wearable for our wonky showing debut on 26th March. Day two was spent unpicking darts and re-sewing. By day 3 I discovered that I had unpicked the WRONG darts and when I came to sew on the buttons (feeling very smug to have got so far) I realised I'd made the entire apron backwards! If anyone reading this needs an offside apron you can have it if you collect/pay postage. It's lovely heavy navy teflon coated polyester fabric and would be such a shame to just throw out :( contact me via twitter @beaubayou
Apparently this is a common mistake for first-time apron makers. That is not a consolation! So I started again, bought a PROPER pattern from Penny Housden, Sidesaddle lady (thank you!) and have started again. This one is far more complex but has actual written instructions so with luck and a following wind I may end up with a usable apron this time
I squeezed in a sidesaddle lesson before the Cherwell Valley RC Dressage competition (I was stewarding) and was chuffed with how Grumps went but less pleased with how much my core hurt! My buddy Beverley was visiting from cheshire so she hopped on and finished the lesson in my place. She’s a natural! Megatrainer Ginny declared I had not done enough – my muscles disagreed ;)
We've started! We have a theme and have started coming up with ideas for the costumes. We have a team change this year with Tory stepping down due to work pressures and instead supporting from the ground, and Mrs Whipcracker stepping in! I can hardly wait to start writing the test and getting the music sorted (I bought the right CD from Amazon for 19p which was a very pleasing price. And it turned up!). Megatrainer Alison will be drilling us so we ought to be hoof perfect by October. This year's theme is very dramatic :D
Last year, as my regular readers will know, I made beau walk the jumping phase of the combined training. I still melted down but I was embarrassed afterwards! This year I have entered again (oops) and THIS time I plan to do it properly. It's in April so I have weeks to wind myself up about it
Beau had a bad school report in Feb. Megatrainer Tracy was riding him and leading Spotty Sardra, and he decided not to bother and tried to turn for home! Luckily Sardra just stood and waited until Tracy had convinced him otherwise. They then proceeded through about six sets of temporary traffic lights through roadworks, so clearly he wasn't THAT bothered!
This is my 15 minutes of fame! The lovely Amy from Horse hour has recorded a podcast of me wittering on about all the fun me, Tory, Simon and Mrs Whipcracker have with our horses. Please have a listen and if you find even a tiny bit of it helpful or inspiring I will be overjoyed. I am terminally terrified and completely neurotic but I don't let it stop me - and I almost always have lots of fun once I'm in the saddle! The podcast will be aired at 8pm on Monday 13th March on Twitter at @HorseHour and later via http://www.horsehour.co.uk/
No updates this time. We've had lots of family stuff to sort out so riding opportunities have been practically zero, though I have 2 good friends keeping Grumps ticking over a couple of times a week for me so it won't be such a shock for him when I flop back into the saddle for two days of sidesaddle and dressage training coming next weekend 25-26 February!
Dressage: The main focus is STILL to get 70% in a prelim test unaffiliated!
Posh dressage: Tracy to compete with Beau at Elementary – am looking for classes…
Dressage again: Having discovered that BD are allowing Team Quest members to compete affiliated at prelim – AND having coughed up for full membership for 2017, I am now aiming for regional festivals at novice – though I am not sure what’s involved in that yet. Mainly I'd like to end up at the Veteran and Draught Championships again
Side saddle: An intro dressage test ridden wonky plus the Sidesaddle Association Novice Show in March
Quadrille: Lots of theme ideas already bubbling away for 2017, though unless clubs are allowed two teams this year we may not even be going
An extra one - Jumping: A bit more bimbling about over tidgy XC fences and through water, over banks etc. Beau is a legend at jumpies but loves it a bit tooooooo much for me! I have booked in some training before the competition so let’s see how that goes. I should have started this Sunday (the last weekend in feb) but Storm Edwin put the dampeners on that.
Please visit Tam at: https://beaubayou.blogspot.co.uk/