ON THE HOOF: WITH DEBORAH SMITH

Summer was incredibly busy in the equestrian world; lots of training, plenty of events, overnight stays and even some rosettes...

GREAT YORKSHIRE SHOW >>

First stop, the Great Yorkshire Show; one of the biggest agricultural events in the British calendar. Having missed the ladies sidesaddle class last year, I was determined to catch the action this year. It’s not something I’ve ever tried and I’m always full of admiration for the riders who make it look so effortless and elegant.

This year’s sidesaddle class is a qualifier for the prestigious Horse of the Year Show, during the first week in October; and it is oh-so competitive!

The entrants are initially judged in the Top Spec White Rose Arena before the finalists battle it out in the Main Arena for the final judging.

A full gallop, past the grandstand packed with spectators, is the highlight of the class. The riders and horses were all amazing and the judges had a really tough job making their final selection.

In the end, the Mears family’s prolific Brookdale Limited Edition, with Danielle Heath riding, took the ribbons and the hard-fought first place.

I managed to catch up with Danielle after the show to find out a bit more about how she got into sidesaddle riding in the first place.

When did you first start riding sidesaddle?

I first started riding sidesaddle when I was 13.

My pony was called Morning Melody and she was a dun 14hh mare and my first competition was the Royal Windsor Horse Show. I won!

How did you get the ride on the fantastic Archie (Brookdale Limited Edition)?

I now produce and ride for five different owners from all over the country.

I found Archie at a local show and approached the owner a month later to see if she would sell him to the current owner.

I took the ride straight away and our first show was Moreton-In-Marsh, where he won and gained his first HOYS ticket.

I then took the sidesaddle ride on him this year where we won Royal Windsor, Yorkshire Sport Horse and the Great Yorkshire Show.

The owner’s daughter took over the Maxi Cob classes on him this season.

And what’s Archie like?

He’s a real character and a gentleman in every way. He is an armchair ride – astride and sidesaddle.

The famous gallop – what’s it like at the Great Yorkshire Show?

The gallop in that ring is the main thing you look forward to and I made the most of it on this special horse because I knew he would cover the ground and love the atmosphere in there.

And the rest of the season?

My next show will be at the NEC Birmingham for the Horse of the Year Show.

Any tips for anyone interested in having a go?

If you want to learn sidesaddle get in touch with a professional for advice on your ride and the saddle.

There are plenty of contact details on the Side Saddle Association website sidesaddleassocation.co.uk.


Wishing Danielle and Archie all the best for October.

 

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