Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tiny note on saddle fit...

My taller, skinnier, younger sister was just here to have me, of all things, repair the butt seams in two pairs of her scrubs which she had split out while crouching down to handle dogs at the vet hospital where she works. I had her sit in my side saddle on the premise that she has never seen one, and she should try it and see how it feels. Secretly, I wanted to see just how big a difference 40 pounds really makes. It fits her skinny butt with inches to spare. In fact, it rather flatters her. I'm sure she would look very elegant. Grrrrr.... I did mention, while I was sewing the seams, that one thing I could safely say I had not done in awhile is split out my pants seams. But it was a hollow victory.

This past week I was reading The Art of Side-Saddle by Rosamund Owens. On page 37 she writes... "The prevalence of 17" or 17.5" saddles (American measurements 21" or 21.5")goes to show that our forebears were, on the whole, rather larger than we are. I was recently offered a Champion and Wilton side-saddle, as modern as they come, scarcely used, but when I inquired the measurements, I was told 19.5"! (23.5" American.. and where is this treasure now?) On asking how large the owner had been, I was told, 'well she was a well built girl'."

I imagine when Ms. Owens says "large" she was referring to the fact that the cultural ideal of a woman's figure has changed over the years, and in the early 20th century, curvier figures were in vogue. I seriously doubt, that in the previous generations, the women were any taller or leggier. I have looked and looked and cannot find any scientific data on the average height and weight of women. But I imagine, on the whole, the 21st century norms are far higher for both.
That outstanding tidbit aside, no pun intended, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It can often be found on used book or auction sites, and no side saddle fancier's library should be without it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That's why they call it a Horse SHOW

I've been day dreaming about showing aside, and thinking what I would wear. My horse is a Saddlebred Country Pleasure hunter. Basically, a hack horse, no jumps. He could also be a nice lower level saddle seat pleasure horse if shod a little longer and if I get him into a double bridle (not his favorite). We've only gone to a show once in the 6 years we've owned him, since I'm just not that competetive anymore. But, the country fair in the next county over is a very nice show. When I can be bothered to show, it will be that one. It's lovely with lots of big shade trees, and tons of country atmosphere. It is part of a tri-state circuit for Saddlebreds and Morgans, and last year it was voted people's choice best show for that circuit.

This show has a lot of "open" pleasure classes, so rather than show aside in the breed hunt seat division, I would probably target the Open Ladies Pleasure class. Open Road Hack would also be an option, but I'm not going to assume at this point that either an extended trot or a hand gallop will be in my repetoire, especially in a ring full of horses since Road Hack is a pretty popular class. What could be more appropriate than Ladies Pleasure aside? The best part is that I wouldn't have to look the part of either a modern hunter or a saddle seat horse. I could go a little vintage and stick to the broader style of "english" show hack or what we would have called a "bridle path hack" 30 years ago.

Whether I am showing under hunt seat rules or saddle seat rules, I have the choice of either a pelham bit or a double bridle. I can also use a derby (bowler) under either division. So I was thinking a nice cutaway habit in dark grey with a grey derby and a canary vest and a men's tie. I'd use a flat leather bridle with a pelham, and then add a little bling with a retro ribbon browband in a conservative color, maybe something like this in charcoal and creamy yellow to match my habit and vest.

So as not to offend officianados of hunt seat style by adding "bling", I would probably lean a little towards saddle seat style and not braid his mane or trim his tail, turning him out instead, like a country pleasure Saddlebred. A ribbon browband might be a little out of date in saddle seat, but still acceptable by traditional standards. You buy one, or get a kit to make your own at the linked website.

But if I am feeling very stylish, I can also shoot for a costume class, and go completely vintaage. I loved Michelle's linen habit seen here . Which is very similar to one of my very favorite linen habits.

I mean, why dress up like everyone else? That's why they call it a Horse Show!

Although I am a big fan of the discipline, I've never been a big fan of Saddle Seat attire. I do love formal 3 gaited with the top hats and ribboned pants, but unless you spend more money on your habit than I usually do on my horse, you usually look like you're wearing your Daddy's hand me down Sunday suit.

Above I am showing a Walk Trot horse for a friend in a suit Mom made for me. I loved that chestnut top hat, and recently sold it to Julie from Riding Aside for her outfit.

I've always said if I had a really nice horse, so I wouldn't look like a dork, I'd go retro and show in flared johdpurs and a straw hat. Now that looks elegant....