Why I love . . . riding sidesaddle
‘After a long day in the office, it’s a pleasure to see my horse’s happy face over the stable door’
Claire Nulty on Stan: ‘At the end of 2018, I set myself the challenge of learning how to ride sidesaddle’
Sidesaddle is defined as sitting on a horse with both one’s feet on the same side – like sitting on a horse isn’t difficult enough to start with!
I’ve been riding horses for as long as I can remember but at the end of 2018, I set myself the challenge of learning how to ride sidesaddle with the aim of qualifying for the RDS Dublin Horse Show, one of the highlights of the showing calendar in Ireland. I figured if my horse was okay with it, why not give it a try.
The most important consideration for sidesaddle is that the horse must be suitable; they must be well behaved, and have no problem with a lady bouncing around on their back. My pony, Stan, couldn’t have cared less, so I knew I was on to a winner. A friend gave me a loan of her saddle, and I put together the necessary outfit which includes an apron-style skirt, stock or cravat, waistcoat, jacket and top hat.
It was at Athlone Agri Show last year that, after a lot of hard work and training, myself and Stan took third place and qualified for the RDS.
I bought Stan as a just-broken four-year-old, and he had never experienced a show. It’s been a great journey for him. He’s a fun horse to ride and is never in a bad mood. After a long day in the office working, it’s a pleasure to go home and see his happy face over the stable door.
I love riding sidesaddle because of how different it is, and because it felt like upskilling. The camaraderie between sportswomen is lovely too, and I’ve made great friends through sidesaddle showing. Stan and I are geared up for the show this week at the RDS – it’s all to play for.