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The Side Saddle Association

Equitana's links with The Side Saddle Association began in 1985, when the Association was first invited to provide a display for the Hop Top Show. We were last here in 1997.

Ladies have ridden side-saddle in Britain for at least 1,000 years. For centuries, side-saddle was the only way for a lady to proceed 'correctly' on horseback. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ladies began to ride side-saddle with the most prestigious packs of foxhounds, keeping up with their menfolk. The Empress Elizabeth of Austria was a particularly daring side-saddle rider, who came to Britain with her friends to enjoy the sport in the 1870's. Her style of riding became fashionable, and did much to set the standards of strength, safety and durability of side-saddle design for which British-made side-saddles have since become renowned.

In the late 1930's it began to become acceptable for ladies to ride astride. By 1948 riders like Pat Smythe were winning medals at the Olympic Games - riding astride. The side-saddle was widely considered redundant, and many were put into storage, or even burnt.

The Side Saddle Association was founded in 1974 in order to revive the art of riding side-saddle. It is the largest organisation in the world dedicated to promoting the art, and has some 1,100 Members in Britain, many of whom compete at major shows throughout Britain in order to qualify for the National Championships held each summer. It has links with similar organisations in 15 other countries including Germany. It brings side-saddle riding to riders from all walks of life. The dress normally worn, with its safety apron and elegant headwear, was the customary form of dress in the hunting field in the 1920's.

The Team, which comprises some of the top side-saddle riders and instructors in Britain, performs a quadrille to music composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan.

The Side Saddle Association Display Team at Equitana 2001
Patron: Lt. Col. Sir John Miller, G.C.V.O., D.S.O., M.C.

The Horses
“Ballyjamesduff II”: 173 cms. part-bred Cleveland Bay gelding, born 1983
“Rococo” 157 cms. Appaloosa X Thoroughbred, born 1989
“Mr. Grimsdale”: 175 cms. Clydesdale X Thoroughbred gelding, born 1988
“Articulate”: 170 cms. Thoroughbred X gelding, born 1986
“Ozzie Bear” 178 cms. Irish Draught Cross, born 1989

The Riders

Claire Lewis and “Bally James Duff II” Claire took part in the Side Saddle Association’s displays in Equitana’s Hop Top Show in 1985, 1987 and 1997. In Britain she has won the title “Side-Saddle Rider of the Year” five times — three times riding “Ballyjamesduff II”. She is a fully-qualified professional equestrian side-saddle instructor, and was awarded the BEMA Diplome of the Cadre Noir at Saumur in 2000. She competes at Prix St. Georges level astride, and won the British Novice Dressage with Jumping Cham-pionship in 1999.

Virginia Oakley and “Rococo” Virginia and “Rococo” have given many displays ridden side-saddle, including at the National Equestrian Centre, Stoneleigh, and Olympia, London. She is a freelance equestrian instructor, and writes books and for magazines. “Rococo” is a well-known Appaloosa who has won, among many other awards, the “Best Trained Show Horse” in 1998 at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. He was also Champion Ridden Appaloosa in Great Britain.

Helena Hogarth and “Mr. Grimsdale” Helena has ridden since she was a child. Three years ago she began to compete riding side-saddle in dressage and show-jumping competitions. She is a qualified side-saddle instructor. She hunts side-saddle regularly. She competed successfully in side-saddle classes in France at Le Lion d’Angers in 2000. She and “Mr. Grimsdale” won the title of “Reserve Amateur Side-Saddle Champion” at the 2000 British National Side-Saddle Championships.

Sarah Gooch and “Articulate” Sarah is a qualified equestrian instructor. She first rode side-saddle in 1995, and has won, consistently since 1996, side-saddle championships at increasing levels of difficulty in Britain, including The Side Saddle Association’s Novice and Intermediate Championships. Sarah was a member of The Side Saddle Association’s display in the Hop Top Show in 1997. “Articulate” is a winner of the Young Event Horse Championship at Burghley Horse Trials.

“Paula Keeley and “Ozzie Bear” Paula visited Equitana giving side-saddle displays in 1997 and 1999. She has also given side-saddle displays at Verden, as well as in Paris and in Portugal. She is a qualified Side Saddle Association instructor, and was awarded the BEMA Diplome of the Cadre Noir at Saumur in 2000. She competes in dressage classes at Intermédiare and Advanced levels, riding in competition with astride riders in Portugal as well as Britain. “Ozzie Bear” is a true “all-rounder”. After several seasons carrying the Master of an Irish hunt, he is now a heavy-weight (over 86 kgs.) show hunter with major successes in top level competitions. He also competes successfully in dressage competitions.

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