Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sidesaddle Reigns at The Royal

Ontario Sidesaddle Association corrals interactive display
November 2011—Sidesaddle riding has experienced a resurgence in Ontario, judging by the interest generated at this year’s Royal Winter Fair.

The Ontario Sidesaddle Association (OSA), initiated in 2010 by Sharon Borda from Caledon and Joanne Milton from Hillsburgh, took full advantage of a kind offer to promote two, one hour sessions during a day at The Royal. All thanks to the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF), for sharing their Spirit of the Horse round pen.

Several types and ages of sidesaddles, uniquely showcased on stools—not conventional saddle stands, were predominantly supplied by collector extraordinaire, Lois Beecraft. The stools held saddles securely and were low enough to the ground to reassuringly feel a foot on the floor. Strewn over straw bales and punching up the display along the round pen hung habits, period costumes, hats, veils and vintage whips all beckoning touch and encouraging play.

Joanne Milton and Ilka Boecker
Wearing sidesaddle habits to attract attention, Pam Hope coaxed the curious into the corral beckoning spectators to “give sidesaddle a sit!” Ilka Boecker, a treasured sidesaddle volunteer was especially regal, posing in a formal English habit, complete with polished boots, lady’s top hat, veil and canary vest.

The best advocates were those that needed a special invitation to overcome their suspicions and inhibitions as they modeled habits, snapped photos and asked questions. Most were surprised at how secure they felt in a sidesaddle and no longer thought it was super specialized or beyond their talents. The OSA team reassured the participants—sidesaddle is for everyone.

Trying on an English habit
The new OSA brochure was given to all who experienced the sidesaddle.  Did you receive yours?  If not, please contact us and we will be happy to send one out to you.

Many thanks to the OSA volunteers for braving the traffic, slugging gear and tirelessly donating their time and to the Ontario Equestrian Federation for the use of their roundpen, and for supporting OSA during the Royal Winter Fair.

And finally, a sincere thank you to all who participated in our demo. 

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