A Hunting We Will Go…..

Winter brought an end to the show season, sadly not to the rain though! This has limited the amount that we’ve done over the winter, keeping horses fit whilst working full time has proved to be near to impossible. The foxes have however have a couple of great days out side saddle.

Sian and Marley went along to the Quorn meet, where they did us proud. Marley proved to be an absolute superstar. He’s grown up so much since Sian has owned him and is made for hedge hopping. Sian looked absolutely fantastic and had a great couple of hours out. There was a record turnout of side saddle ladies at this year’s opening meet and it was great meeting people who share a real passion (obsession) for side saddle.

Becca sadly has been horseless this season due to the gorgeous Henry having to be retired to a quieter lifestyle as a happy hacker due to his legs. Becca has got a lovely new pony, Harry, who is almost a dead ringer for Henry (just a little smaller and not as grumpy) but he is a real baby so she is enjoying bringing him on slowly during the winter.

Becca has been very lucky however and had the opportunity to do a couple of great side saddle events.

The Meath Side Saddle Hunt, once again a record turnout of ladies and organised by the amazing Susan Oakes, over 50 ladies flew/drove over to Ireland from all over the world for a days hunting in Meath. Becca joined them all tackling some of the huge Irish drains and ditches, in very muddy trying conditions. The horses Susan managed to find for all the ladies riding, were I belive absolutely outstanding in quality and everybody who went raved about their day.

You can find photos from the day out at Meath here.

Becca was also lucky enough, once again to be lent a horse by Susan Oakes. Susans own and very special hunter, became Becca’s mount for the day for the Diana’s of the Chase Race. The first ladies side saddle steeple chase to be run since World War 2.

Horse and Hound covered the event, you can read about it here. What a wonderful sight, 16 fearless ladies galloping across open country, leaping hedges. There was a real battle for the finish between Susan Oakes and Lizzie Harris. Becca made it round clear on a strange horse (she’d never ridden Rambo before) and had the most fantastic time. You can find a video of the last fence here and a album of all the photos taken on the day here.

Sadly I’ve been out of action due to cooking the next generation. It’s been a very long nine months of not being in the saddle, but little Archie arrived safe and sound just before Christmas and even got a basket saddle as his first Christmas present, so watch this space. I have just got back in the saddle on the wonderful Basil and am loving every minute of being able to ride again, just need to lose some of the baby weight now so that I can get back into my lovely side saddle.

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South of England Autumn Game and Country Fair

How sad, our last show of the season over and done with! We were blessed though for our appearance at the South of England Autumn Game and Country Fair with the most spectacular autumnal weather. The facilities were fantastic, stables all round with electrics (not having to wait fifteen minutes for the kettle to boil on gas after a night camping puts everyone in a far better mood), not a speck of mud in sight and a massive warm up arena. Heaven!!!

The horses enjoyed a block of stables to themselves with our ‘kitchen’ set up down the corridor so entertainment to boot, although I’m not sure they were to impressed by the late night thanks to the Chucklehead Cider and a couple of our ground crew (ahem Johnny and George). Despite having to listen to drunken (pointless) debates well into the wee hours they loved being a part of the action, and all the treats that came with it. Phil cooked up a storm and we had the most fantastic last supper of the season with all the ponies and the dogs, you can’t ask for much more in life.

We were lucky enough to be joined again this weekend by the fantastic Caroline and Dolcie, as well as a very special ‘guest’ rider, Jess. Jess has been our number one fan since the Flying Foxes was formed in 2010, and I think we owe her parents a massive apology for wildly encouraging her as they are now proud pony owners and life will never be the same again! They’ve have been the most fantastic support from the word go, always coming along and helping out as ground crew when able, so we were delighted to be able to bring Jess and Dexter along for their first ever side saddle event. With a combined age of only 11, they both did brilliantly and were a highlight of the shows.

Our lovely ladies put on a fantastic show as usual and enjoyed the added addition of a couple of hunting brushes in the arena, both Marley and Dolcie were superstars as always and despite slightly slippy ground conditions flew everything. Poor old Basil was feeling a little bit under the weather so he had a day off on day two, not something he minded at all.

 

We also took the opportunity to bring along our new youngster Adenzi or Addy, as we had the opportunity for her to spend the weekend in a new place, with lots going on to see but absolutely no pressure at all. She’s only been with us for a week, so this was a big ask and she took it all in her stride beautifully. The arena was fantastic as it gave us the opportunity to ride her in a completely strange place with lots of shooting in the distance, kites and donkeys but without the pressure of being in the arena with the crowds. Think she’s going to be great, I’m looking forward to getting her out under a side saddle next year once the bump has arrived and I’m riding again.

Having dealt with quite a few set-backs this year from horse injuries to rider injuries to the expected arrival of the next generation, we’ve battled on through the most horrendous weather conditions hopefully giving show goers a taste of side saddle and what fun it can be. It was great after a tough year to finish at such a lovely show with great weather and I hope the crowds enjoyed their weekend as much as we did. I have to say I’m looking forward to next year more than ever, being able to get back on a horse and never having to camp whilst pregnant again! We’ve made some fantastic new friends and the Foxes have enjoyed the addition of a couple of new riders, the lovely El and Caroline, who I hope will both be back again next year for some more side saddle fun. Not to mention Jess who has a winter of practice ahead.

You can find all the photos from our weekend here.

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Midland Game Fair

Wow, 3am! There’s a time of the morning I hope not to see again in a while. Due to nights closing in, the Foxes all decided that the plan of action for the weekend on the Midland Game Fair would be to drive up on Saturday morning rather than Friday night, the plan being that this allowed us to set up camp for the ponies (and us) in the daylight. This meant a very early start for all the Foxes from our various homes, the plus point being that there is no traffic on the roads and that time of the morning.

 We arrived just before 8am and managed to get pony paddocks up and a little camp set up next door giving us a couple of hours to relax before we need to start plaiting and tacking up. The weather was absolutely stunning so we enjoyed a morning of catching up and basking in glorious sunshine, something that’s being missing from most of our shows so far this season.

 We were doing two shows a day at this fantastic event, a show really aimed at countryside lovers, there were the most fantastic displays going on throughout the site from falconry to fishing. The thing I think we enjoy the most about being lucky enough to attend events like this is the people we get to meet, with such a passion for what they do and an enormous willingness to share their knowledge with anyone interested.

Both days of shows went really well. Marley has suddenly matured and was absolutely flying everything, although he’s definately a x-country horse not a show jumper!

Basil despite being a bit tubby gave his all as always. We even introduced him to a new trick, jumping fire. He managed it like a pro on the first day but unfortunately day two was a bit windy, the flames were a bit bigger, and he wasn’t to keen. Something to work on over the next couple of weeks.

We also had the lovely El and Taggie join us again. They are the most fantastic pair and at only 13 El does like to show us all up! The absolute picture of elegance with a backbone of steel, she is the ultimate side saddle rider! We very much hope that El will be coming back and joining us again next year.

As always it was great to catch up with the girls and we had a lovely curry sat next to the horse boxes. Our ground crew for the weekend were absolutely fantastic, we couldn’t do it without them so thank you boys.

Although the season is now drawing to a close we do have one more show this year The South of England Autum Show and Game Fair which is in West Sussex, so do come and cheer us on if you’re in the area!

And my absolute favourite photo of the weekend has to be this one, all three ladies taking a flyer!!

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The annual Household Cavalry Show, Thetford

What a week the run up to this event was! We left for the event on Friday convinced we were jinxed. Thanks to me being busy cooking the next generation of Flying Foxes, we were already a rider down for this one so when Becca phoned up to let me know she’d fallen on her hand (typical isn’t it you spend years doing hair raising things and it’s a trip which causes all the problems). Bless her it immediately swelled up to monsterous proportions, so with a day to the event we were another rider down. Luckily earlier in the week we had arranged to pick up the lovely El and her pony to come and join us for the day (although it did mean a bit of a detour for me and the lovely Basil) so we decided to plough on ahead with just two riders. The rain also caused a few moments for concern, especially with the news on Thursday night that the CLA had made the decision to cancel. A quick phonecall to Norfolk on Friday morning confirmed that they had perfect ground conditions and so by lunchtime on Friday we were on route.

After a long drive and a stop to pick up El and the lovely Tag in Northamptonshire on the way, and of course a Maccie D’s for dinner, we finally got to Thetford at about 8.30pm. A bit of a wait to have the horses passports checked and we got them settled in for the night and collapsed in our own very snazzy army accomodation. What a relief to have a roof over our heads, flushing loos and a bed!

The next day dawned and we eagerly leapt out of bed to ensure we were ready to feed ponies at the same time as the Household Cavalry only to find out because they are on holiday feeding times are much later. Still we managed to get ponies all mucked out and fed before heading over for a massive fry up.

Sian had some fun bareback with Basil in the warm up.

Now as Becca wasn’t able to secure a lift and didn’t have a driver for Saturday, it meant that little old me was stuck with the job of commentator. If there is one thing in life that brings me out in a cold sweat it’s public speaking. I’d rather jump round the Golden Button than be handed a microphone. My morning was spent trying to drill all my side saddle knowledge into my head so I didn’t forget it when I got flustered with the commentary. Luckily everyone was very understanding, but I do apologise now that it wasn’t up to our usual standard. I hope that we still managed to share some interesting facts about the history of side saddle.

El and Sian both looked absolutely fantastic. We’d decided to use Basil for Sian for the day, as Marley is still a youngster and we decided that having an old hand would be handy with only two riders. It also saves Sian on drama’s with lorry hire! So Sian hopped up on the lovely Basil and El was riding her mums hunter Tag who we had all fallen in love with by the end of the weekend. I think everyone will agree that they both looked amazing.

The first show was a success, people put up with the commentary and didn’t boo me out of the ring. The girls were both fantastic and the highlight of the show had to be getting Josh, one of the Household Cavalry up on Basil. Firstly because he was up on a coloured pony ( I know what Cavalry gents think of coloureds) and secondly because he was side saddle. Josh, I have to say, did make it all look tremendously easy and floated around the arena on Basil looking very elegant. This meant we had to up the stakes a little bit and a jump was erected, not so easy. Right shoulder back when you’ve been taught to show jump and fold into a jump is quite difficult and Josh coped fantastically but I think was quite relieved when he was able to hop down and check all was still in order.

A succesful show done, we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon which included the Household Cavalry’s famous musical ride. It was absolutely fantastic, a must for anyone who gets the opportunity to see it! Unfortunately my camera ran out half way through so didn’t get that many photos. When they galloped out with the English Flag at the end I think there were quite a few of us in the audience with lumps in their throats.

We were thrilled with the news of the cancellation of Kelmarsh, not I hasten to add because the event had been cancelled which is devestating news for everyone who has put so much hard work in, but because it meant that our lovely ground crew Phil and Neil were able to come up and join us that afternoon and for day two of the show. Fantastic to see them again and catch up on all the news and we all joined some of the chaps (thank you for asking us) in the local pub for a yummy and well deserved dinner.

Day two dawned and we were not so bright and early this morning (sorry ponies) once again we got to benefit from a proper fry up for breakfast and then got started with ponies. Unfortunately Basil has been struggling with a bit of a girth gall, I think due to getting mud and grit between the girth and him at the Three Counties and although it had healed up, it had started to rub again the day before. The Household Cavalry couldn’t have been more fantastic and quickly summoned up a replacement horse to give Basil a day off. The lovely Vixen was brought over and given a quick try side saddle proving to be absolutely fantastic and I think enjoying the change to becoming a ladies horse for the day.

The other good news is was Becca had managed to secure a driver (thank you George) so I was off the hook and able to become official photographer for the day, and what a day it was. The sun shone for the first time in what felt like months. The mornings show’s were fantastic and we were able to enjoy the regimental show jumping and part of the motorbike display before heading off to tack up ready for our final performance.

Needless to say the girls were once again fantastic, Sian on Vixen had an absolute ball, what a lovely gentle, kind mare and El feeling a little bit braver on Tag, second time around was soon putting us all to shame with her jumping skills. 1m25 easy peasy!! Go El!! (I must mention at this point that El is only 13 years old)

We had our second very nervous gentleman for this show, Josh was proving to be to much of a natural and needless to say once again he made it all look far to simple and we started getting some fairly snazzy footwork from Vixen!

Both chaps did fantastically well and were real sports at being dragged into the arena and put on a side saddle so thank you!!!

All in all we had the most fantastic weekend and would recommend this annual event to anyone who can make it. It really is the most fantastic show and gives you the chance to meet the famouse Cav Blacks, as well as trumpeters horses and the very cuddly drum horses as well as experiencing the musical ride and much much more! We very much hope to get invited back again next year, unfortunately our attempts to sneak Vixen into the trailer were foiled.

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Alton Show

Yesterday saw us all converging at Alton Show. After a 4am start washing ponies (never buy a grey or coloured horse) we made it to Alton for 8am for what looked like what was going to be a gloriously sunny day!

A very traditional county show, Alton Show proved to be the most fantastic day. We were joined for the day by a new member of the team Caroline and her super little mare Dolcie (I hope I’ve spelt that right). Our first show wasn’t until 1pm so we had plenty of time to relax and plait up horses. Unfortunately Basil and Henry had to have some cuddles so I ended up with green streaks all over the lovely clean Basil, thank god for Cowboy Magic!

Unfortuanately show time dawned and after a glorious morning, big black clouds appeared out of nowhere, we are now starting to wonder whether we’ve unwittingly performed some sort of rain dance. The ladies and ponies were soaked for the first ten minutes of the show but as always continued with a smile!

Both shows went really well, poor Basil suffered with a girth rub which by the end of the day looked really sore. Luckily as long as he was eating he didn’t seem to concerned but needless to say mum is feeling really guilty and he is going home for two weeks TLC. Dolcie and Henry put in some fantastic jumps over a reasonably sized upright.

We had some fun doing all the things we’ve not been able to do yet this year because of the appalling weather conditions. The table was brought out and dusted off and the ponies enjoyed a bit of a gymkana. It was such an incredible feeling to be riding on a lovely surface, so far this year we just seem to have been riding around in bogs.

All in all it was a great day and we enjoyed been parked right next to the main arena which enabled us to enjoy the Little Tigers Motorcycle Display Team (the cutest thing ever) and a fantastic closing parade featuring all the best in shows, as well as the carriage driving classes that took place in the morning.

Two weeks now until our next show which we are really excited about. We’ve been invited to take part in the annual Household Cavalry Show they hold for the residents of Thetford, Norfolk to raise funds for charity. We are really looking forward to it and have been told by a little birdie that the riding master is up for a bit of a side saddle lesson :)

Watch this space!

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A very muddy Three Counties Show

Well last weekend heralded the start of the much looked forward to Three Counties Show. This was to be our first year at this event and we’d looked forward to it since the booking came in. Unfotunately the good old English weather was not on our side and the very wet British summer continued.

Driving up through torrential rain we arrived late (thanks to radiators going on lorries and the weather) and had to pop the ponies into tempory stabling for the night in amongst all the very smart show ponies, standing on tiptoes to peer over stable doors and greet the new arrivals.

The Three Counties is the most amazing show, absolutely huge with lots of fantastic shopping, hundreds of showing classes for horses, cattle and sheep. Luckily it is an incredibly well made site and all of the walk ways are tarmaced which made life much easier. We were situated down by the countryside arena and stabled with Sovereign Quarter Horses who are fantastic if you every get the chance to see them in action. There little horses are absolute gems and we are even trying to work out some sort of swap with them for the CLA for anyone who can make it to Belvoir Castle in July.

The displays for the weekend went well but unfortunately we were hampered by the weather and limited as to what we could do due to very boggy conditions in the arena. Unfotunately displays were slightly more sedate than usual but I hope that we still provided show goers with an interesting insight into side saddle thanks to Becca and her fantastic commentary.

The horses were as always amazing despite flooded stables and the boggiest conditions we’ve ever had to ride in. They all behaved beautifully, although I’m sure they also missed their little races.

We also brought a spare side saddle up to this event and did short talks in the tiny ‘pat the pony’ arena which gave people the opportunity to have a sit on a side saddle and see how it feels. Most people were astounded by how comfortable it was and how secure they felt and I hope that we introduced another handful of people to the joys of side saddling. We also took the opportunity to give a couple of the other display teams working at the show a go. The commentator (male) had an absolute ball on Basil and couldn’t believe as an infreqent rider how secure he felt, and El from Sovereign Quarter Horses also had some fun on Basil so here’s hoping we see a Western Side Saddle making an appearance in their tack room, sometime in the near future.

The organisers did the most fantastic job despite the horrendous weather conditions, everyone continued to smile through the rain so a massive thankyou to them for such a splendid weekend. Here’s hoping for slightly better weather for our next event which is Alton Show on the 1st July.

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Telegraph Article

Finally, the article written by Susanna Forrest has been published. What a fantastic piece promoting the fun that can be had riding side saddle! Susanna’s interest in side saddle was founded through research for her book If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of Equine Obsession, where she discovered ladies such as Nannie Power O’Donoghue, Mrs Alice Hayes, Skittle’s and of course Sissi, the Empress of Austria. Their riding skills, despite being of the fairer sex, were legendry both during their lifetime and today, they were well known for their fearless and skillful riding.

Susanna contacted us for help with the article, and the opportunity to ‘have a go’. The date was set and we were treated to the most spectacular winter’s day for the photos. A side saddle lesson was first, by the end of which Susanna was jumping like a pro! We then pulled out all the habits, hats, gloves and of course corsets and got dolled up in Victorian (or in Sian’s case Edwardian) riding garb.

What a picture four mounted ladies, taking the air, in front of the spectacular Audley End House. Photo’s were taken and interviews done before we all packed up and headed pack to our respective counties.

We’ve been waiting for weeks for the article to be published, and it was definately worth the wait! We are especially flattered to have been compared to our heroines ‘The Foxes’ combination of style, dash and have-a-go daring have made them Nannie, Skittles and Mrs Hayes’ heiresses’.

Now we are back in the real world, preperations have begun in earnest for the first of this year’s shows. We will be kicking off the season with a charity event, for the Household Cavalry Operational Casulties Fund. A very worthwhile cause, you can donate here, this charity aims to provide financial support to wounded soldiers and their families, including those who have lost thier lives on active service.

The event is the Run, Ride and Punt which is being held at Minterne House in Dorset, so for any of you in the south do pop along and cheer us on!

We also have a two day event coming up at the Hop Farm, Country, Craft and Food Fair, which we are looking forward to, although hoping the weather holds out as we’ll be camping for this one!

May sees two of us taking part in another charity event, this time in aid of Riding for the Disabled and Help for Heroes, again another two very worthy causes, so if you’ve got a couple of pounds to spare, please visit our just giving page and donate. This event is the Windsor Lions Horse Ride, a ride through the magnificent Windsor Park with over 20 jumps, which we will of course be doing side saddle!

We will of course make sure to take lot’s of photos at all of the above and keep you updated on our progress!

Zaldi side saddles have been ordered so we are now waiting, like children the night before Christmas, for them to arrive. So exciting, really looking forward to seeing how they ride. Will be nice to have a bit more of an everyday saddle, as we currently all ride in our incredibly precious saddles which are over 100 years old. They are based on the old fashioned Mayhew tree, so based on the best, and look fantastic. Although Lesley from Hold Your Horses, has warned us that because they are made of natural materials, they do take quite a bit of riding in. Darn, I guess that means lots more side saddle for us then :)

Just a reminder for anyone looking for a side saddle, Zaldi’s are made to measure, quality saddles whilst still being affordable. The Flying Foxes have organised a discount for all our fans, so to take advantage of this get in touch with Lesley from Hold Your Horses! I have also heard on the grapevine due to popular demand they are now making a protype for a 15″ tree, which is exciting for all the smaller side saddle riders out there.

Basil and I are plodding away on our weight loss effort, not much joy for me, although Basil has gone up a girth hole! Bless him, food really is his biggest joy in life, so feel really guilty limiting his grazing! Still he enjoyed lot’s of TLC this weekend when the girls came down for a visit!

Sian and Marley have been enjoying some fun rides recently, ableit astride, but they have proven to be the most fantastic training for Marley who is going from strength to strength. We can’t believe how much he has come on in the year since she brought him! I spent the weekend with Sian, who had a very cheesy grin plastered on her face, showing off photos of her and Marley leaping a fairly substantial hedge at a fun ride the weekend before. I’ve been promised photos so the moment I get them I’ll make sure I post them!

Becca is enjoying new horse Bertie and has decided he’s the one for her record breaking attempt at the puissance side saddle :) Watch this space.

Side saddle has also enjoyed some press recently in Horse and Hound, Philippa Holland is organising a side saddle steeple chase, the first since 1927, so for all the amazons out there make sure you sign up! The Flying Foxes have already put their names down, so join us by emailing Philippa at philippa@philippaholland.co.uk.

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New boy Bertie strutts his stuff!!!

Lucky lucky Becca, Monday saw the arrival of the newest member of the Flying Foxes team arrive in the form of Bertie (not Max as previously posted by me, sorry) . A 16.3hh Warmblood x Thoroughbred.

 

Bertie is a bay gelding who has hunted, team chased and cross-countried his whole life. Becca was very lucky and he was passed on by a friend of ours, Mark Atkinson, who supplies the most fantastic horses for film and historical events. If you have a look through some of our photos, those where we are not riding are own horses are usually horses hired for the day from Mark Atkinson.

http://atkinsonactionhorses.webs.com/

Bertie has been a much loved hunter at livery for many years until his owner sadly passed away. The owners family wanted a lovely home where he can grow old, so hopefully he’ll find that as one of the horses at Audley End House. He’s 15 years old and Becca says that although forward going is a complete gent. He’s already had the side saddle on with no issues so watch this space!

 

 

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A girly side saddle weekend

What a lovely way to spend a weekend. Based in Wiltshire, Essex and Northamptonshire, we sadly don’t get to see each other as often as we like during the winter or ‘off’ season. Constant email and phone contact just doesn’t cut it, so it was lovely to have the opportunity to all get together at Becca’s place this weekend for some side saddle fun!

The ‘excuse’ for this weekend away was a photoshoot with the Telegraph and an interview with author Susanna Forest, who has just written a book, If Wishes Were Horses, A Memoir of Equine Obsession. If Wishes Were Horses is the story of one girl’s childhood obsession with ponies and the complex relationship that women have had with horses across the centuries. Susanna’s research has enabled her to discover the fascinating world of side saddle and some of side saddles more colourful characters have inspired a passion for side saddle.

Susanna contacted us wondering if she could come over for a side saddle ‘taster’ session and to interview us for an article she is writing for the Telegraph on the rise of the popularity of side saddle. We of course were delighted to be able to welcome her to join us for a day of side saddle fun, at Audley End House and I hope she enjoyed the day as much as we did.

We started with a side saddle lesson, Susanna’s second ever go side saddle, and she did fantastically riding the always lovely Henry. I’m afraid that the Flying Foxes don’t follow tradition and stick to walking for the first couple of sessions, and despite not having jumped for years was soon flying over fences and looking like a natural!

Now we all enjoy dressing up as much as the next girl, and frequently have to explain to husbands that yes, although we do spend alot of money on side saddles and habits, we could be spending it on shoes which aren’t nearly as useful, so they should be thankfull. The corsets came out and Susanna was laced up, dressed in a reproduction Victorian habit and once again, looking absolutely stunning, mounted Henry. Shadow, Jack and Basil were all tacked up and dressed in all our finery we all mounted and headed out to the front of the house. What a site, four ladies side saddle, in front of the spectacular Audley End House on a beautiful cold but sunny winters day. The photographer was fantastic and we are all looking forward to seeing the results of the day. The horses were incredibly tolerant and most of them stood beautifully whilst the photos were taken (ahemmm Shadow) and we all thoroughly enjoyed cantering up and down infront of the River Cam for some action shots.

We then ended the day with an interview, which ended up as a good chat about the history of side saddle, comparing our favourite side saddle heroines and stories from the past.

I have mentioned Shadow before in a blog, we’ve owned her about five years now and she is the lovliest natured horse, although slightly neurotic about certain things. She’s fairly sparky but would never rear, buck etc having not an ounce of malice in her! Well the weekend proved the perfect opportunity to get her out under a side saddle for the her first proper session and she surpassed all my expectations. The first time I ever rode her side saddle was also my first time ever on a side saddle and I have to admit the combination was not a happy one. I was convinced I was going to be bounced out of the saddle and it can’t have been a very pretty sight, so it was with some trepidation that I mounted up again this weekend. Now I’m lucky enough that the gorgeous Basil came into my life about three years ago, just as I was starting my side saddle journey, and has since proved to be the most fantastic little side saddle horse ever. The experience i’ve gained on him was really proved to me yesterday when riding Shadow again and she felt absolutely fantastic. She behaved beautifully, apart from not been to keen on the whole standing still bit. I am now looking forward to continuing to further her side saddle education. We also popped into the school after the photographer had finished and had a little jump. What a difference to jumping Basil, she has a fairly big ‘leap’ on her and definately needs her schooling continued astride as well as aside. She does love her jumping and the more she does the better she seems to get, sadly this winter we haven’t been able to get out and about very much so it was perhaps not the best display of side saddle jumping ever seen, but a year ago I would never have been able to sit her jump side saddle, so I was thrilled with both of our progress. The newest recruit to the Flying Foxes team.

More exciting news, Becca is expecting a new arrival tomorrow!! We are all very excited. A horse supplier who we know well and who we all adore, has a horse that he thinks will suit the Foxes needs perfectly! We all trust Mark’s judgement completely so despite knowing nothing about the horse apart from his name Max, we are all really looking forward to welcoming him to Audley End. He arrives from Yorkshire today, so watch this space!

We also made time for a visit to Sandon saddlery, owned by a Mrs Dodd-Noble, this is saddlery is heaven for a side saddle or horse enthusiast, packed from floor to ceiling with antique and modern saddlery, hours could be spent rumaging around in buckets full of bits and bobs. We all left with armfuls of balance girths, stirrups and saddle covers and are looking forward to another visit next time we are up that way!

 

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Windsor Horse Ride

This morning saw me and Basil heading out on a very snowy, cold but incredibly beautiful ride before work. It was absolutely stunning but although I love snow, I have to say that part of me is hoping that it doesn’t settle (sorry to all the snow lovers out there). It just seems to take twice as long to do everything with the horses in the snow and really limits the riding we can do!

I have to say that I think all the Foxes are now counting down the days until the end of winter, and starting to get excited about our first show booked for this year in April. Two days at Hop Country Fair at the end of April to look forward to!!

As we all live all over the country, and have horses that need looking after, opportunities to meet up over the winter can be few and far in between. We are however all looking forward to getting together for a day out with the Grafton Hunt on the 18th February. If everyone could keep their fingers crossed for good weather on the 18th that would be much appreciated. This a a side saddle day the hunt are putting on, so not only are we looking forward to seeing each other, but also meeting many of the side saddle riders we’ve come to know through facebook. No doubt Sian will be putting on a fantastic supper the night before and the conversation will change to discussions for new ideas for this year’s show, perhaps dangerous after a couple of glasses of wine :)

Sian and I have also booked onto a sponsored ride at Windsor, raising money for two fantastic charities, Riding for the Disabled and Help for Heroes (as an army wife, a charity close to my own heart), we’ll be covering a course of over 20 jumps and 8 miles side saddle. This ride will be taking place on the 5th May 2012, so if you do have a couple of pounds to spare for these very worthy charities you can find our Just Giving page here; http://www.justgiving.com/BexandSian

Sadly, as it’s a bank holiday, Becca is unable to join us. She’ll be up to her elbows with horses and children at Audley End House :( and will be greatly missed by both of us!! It won’t be the same without  her.

We’ll make sure we add some photos for proof after the event!

To cheer us up over the long cold winter our lovely sponsor Charles James Fox has done ‘A rough guide to Side Saddle’ and you will see the Flying Foxes, famous steeds feature in the print. To get your copy visit www.charlesjamesfox.com or visit the for sale page on our website.

Basil has also been imortalised in Silver, Julia Perry from Charlie Fox Designs www.charliefox.co.uk, has taken a picture by our talented resident artist Becca and created this stunning Silver pendant. So for anyone who wants a Basil momento visit her website, she also has some stunning hunting designs, we’ve been ooing and ahhing over the fox and hound bracelet since we found her site.

Now Basil is not one to get a big head, but I have to say he is rather enjoying his new found fame, and loving all the attention. Becca who is not only an incredibly talented horsewoman and side saddle rider, is also the most amazingly talented artist. My birthday present from her last year is one of my most treasured possesions, although the photo is very poor quality, the likeness to Basil is amazing. She has completely captured his character and I’m hoping to persuade her to start taking on a few commissions, as I know so many people who would be thrilled to have such a stunning picture of their treasured pony!

 

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