Monday, September 24, 2012

Hankerchief Slits Revisted

 This is what I love about blogging:  There are people out there, who know more than I, whom I have never met, reading it... and they're willing to share their stuff!!!

These two wonderful vintage photos come to us from the collection of Jeannie Whited.  I just love them.  These smartly turned out ladies each give us a glimpse into the past.  And, they are each sporting a hanky in their hanky slit.

Circa 1880s?
The photo above also shows some interesting off side straps.  When I questioned Jeannie as to their purpose she responded that she thinks they would have been used for a raincoat.  She has some other photos with them shown.

Circa 1910?
How do you supposed this gal keeps her bowler on at that angle?  I don't see a hat cord (which would anchor it to her collar in case it flew off) so my guess is some serious hat pins?
I really like her long and lean little horse.  Plenty of room there for a side saddle.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Miss Mary V Fisher

Presently on Ebay, there is a very nice side saddle for sale.  Listing Here.

This auction was posted on Facebook by Leila, and Nick Creaton identifies the saddle as a Whippy Ladies Show Saddle No 5. First marketed in the 1920's.

Picture from Ebay listing for posterity

The first thing you will note about this saddle, besides that it is in lovely condition, is the very pared down off side flap.  This identifies it a show saddle specifically designed to minimise the saddle's profile on the horse.  Looks like you would have to be careful about what type of saddle rack you put it on.

Picture from Ebay listing for posterity

Actually, the first thing I noticed about the listing is that this saddle was owned by Miss Mary V Fisher of Dixiana Farms.  And that, to a student of American Saddlebred history, is the most fascinating part.

Mary Fisher was the daughter of Charles T and Sarah Fisher. Charles Fisher was one of the owners of Fisher Body, a Detroit car body builder
In 1928, when Mary was 15, he purchased the Lexington Thoroughbred breeding farm Dixiana.  Besides becoming influential in horse racing, Miss Mary, like many socialites of the day, bred, rode and showed American Saddle Horses.

From Famous American Saddle Horses Vol III by Susanne

In fact, she excelled at it.  In 1936, she was the first woman rider to win a Championship Stake class at the World Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair.  She won the 3-Gaited Horse over 15.2 on a horse called Royal Irish.  I believe she repeated this in 1937 or 1938.  There would not be another woman to win such a prestigious open class until Jean McLean Davis won the 3-Gaited World's Grand Championship in 1989 aboard Gimcrack.  Mary Fisher was the first saddle horse rider inducted into the National Horse Show Hall of Fame in 1986.

Miss Mary Fisher aboard Royal Irish painting by George Ford Morris

Miss Fisher was very active showing Saddle Horses in the 1930s and into the 1940s.  Eventually she became more focused on Thoroughbred racing.  I am pleased that one of her saddles has been so well preserved and retains it's identity. 

And, because I just love 1920s illustration art, below are a few fun 1920s Body by Fisher ads for her father's company.  The company continued into the 1980s when it was absorbed into General Motors.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Measuring the Rider for a Side Saddle

In our search for a saddle to correctly fit the unique individual curves of our horse's backs, we must not forget to find just the right fit for the rider. As a taller person (5' 9") with long legs and a curvy figure I am on the lookout for a larger than average saddle.  I am told, and have experienced this myself, that each make of saddle will ride just a bit differently as far as size.   My first saddle was well broken in and there was a distinct "sweet spot" in the seat which drew my seat bones in.  My M&M saddle measured 22.5" and I felt that I was right at the back of the cantle.  The 23" long Mayhew felt as if I had ample room, much more dramatic than a mere half inch.

The trick is to measure the length of your thigh from the back of your buttocks to the bend of your knee.  The following link to the ISSO website shows the tried and true standard method of estimating what seat length will work for you.

Finding a surface to sit on that will place you firmly upright against a wall but keep your thigh horizontal while not interfering with the way your leg will naturally hang is tricky, as is measuring the length of your thigh yourself.  Deb Smith of the Side Saddle Connection has reverse engineered this idea and come up with what I think is an easier method.  I was able to duplicate this on my own coffee table and found it to be so much easier to actually do myself. 

Photo courtesy of Deb Smith The Side Saddle Connection

 *  sit on a flat surface with lower leg over the front edge (eg: a low table, tack box, saddle stand with a flat  top, as you would sit in a saddle)

push a right angle object, such as a weighted box back until the back of your knee is against the flat surface. The box is weighted so it doesn't move or twist when the rider stands up.  (my note**: The box should be quite tall, but I think if you got it too tall leaning back could skew your results.  Belt height would seem to be most accurate.)

Photo courtesy of Deb Smith The Side Saddle Connection

* Measure the length shown by the blue line, this will give the riders leg length
Jeanne Cracknell, also of the Side Saddle Connection, states that she believes that in order to not hang off the back edge of the seat, you should still add 1" to your overall number.
When I measured myself using the wall method, I came up with 22.5".  This was confirmed by sitting in both 22.5" and 23" measured saddle seats.  Using Deb Smith's method I got 21" to 21.5".  Adding an inch makes my likely measurement 22.5" which is consistent with the wall method resuls, but, the box method is so much easier to set up and do yourself.

Jeanne Cracknell and Debbie Smith joined forces in The Side Saddle Connection in order to provide riders with the best possible advice in regards to Side Saddle fitting and riding. They offer clinics, saddle sales, fittings and demonstrations.  My thanks to them for their providing this info and the photos used.