Taking a horse to Breyerfest has been one of the things on my bucket list for years. As a child I went and watched all the demos with rapt attention, wanting to be one of the people who took part in it. This year, I got to realize that dream, and sidesaddle no less!
In 2008, a little mare named Xena’s Dark Star and I did a demo for the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, riding sidesaddle as well. It was a blast, and I’ve always wanted to do more. So when I started talking to someone about sidesaddle at Breyerfest and submitted my application, I kept my fingers crossed until the confirmation email came into my inbox, then cheered! It was really going to happen.
There were different options in costuming (because riding in normal clothing sidesaddle is boring!), so I chose one style I’d wanted to tackle for a long time: steampunk. I’m also a bit of a nerd, not going to lie, so I modeled it after a video game, Assassin’s Creed. It took a lot of hours of research and shopping (and a learned lesson not to shop while on pain meds after knee surgery, as all inhibitions are lowered), but finally all of the pieces came together and time got closer and closer. It also gave me a flimsy excuse to purchase a custom bridle I’ve been wanting forever.
Due to scheduling conflicts, I was unable to ride Rain in the demo on Friday, but was able to Saturday and Sunday. Rain had only been ridden sidesaddle twice before this, but she is typically pretty amicable to trying different things. To warm her up, I took her down to the arena by the old covered arena to stretch her legs since she’d only said hi to spectators down by the barns the day before. She showed off her athleticism on the line, but eventually settled in and offered some beautiful, forward canter. By this point people were gathering to have their models signed by the featured horse, so we had a crowd. To let her have a break, I went and chatted with people in the crowd and had them pet her to get her used to large amounts of people near her. Lots of good questions were asked and there was a lot of interest in the breed.
When it was time to ride down to the demo, Rain was in high spirits again, and I learned it is a lot easier to sit a spook in a sidesaddle! You are super secure in those seats if you use the proper position. It answered that long standing question for me – I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t ungracefully part ways from that saddle, but I had nothing to be worried about. There is a reason those ladies can jump gigantic hedges on the fox hunting field aside – it’s designed to be very secure. Down in the ring, Rain was very nervous at all the excitement and gaited the entire time, though that was very easy to sit and quite comfortable. As long as she moved forward, I let her. It was a huge rush and so much fun.
On Sunday, Rain was immediately more comfortable in the ring. Again, she gaited most of the time, but she finally decided that kids on the rail could pet her and it was all over from there. She was smitten and shamelessly begged each spectator for treats or to itch her face. I think she was a hit, because I was sitting in my truck on Sunday and saw her on a FB group for the breed.
We’ve been invited back in 2016, and the theme that year will be Carnivale. I am not sure what we are going to do as far as costume goes, but it’s going to be a ton of fun Time to break into a rhythm and figure out how to dress Rio De Janiero style. Suggestions are always appreciated!