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Aside World Magazine
Summer/Fall 2021 Issue 

Crossing Things Off The Bucket List Aside!

Article and photo's courtesy of Jacquelyn Holly

 

It’s not a surprise - anything an astride rider can do - a sidesaddle sister (or mister) can do too! And in case you were wondering, anything a horse can do - a mule can do too!


So why not prove it? Why not show it off?  You can bet I am constantly putting my sidesaddle abilities to the test. You might remember last year I tried my hand at mounted shooting aside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jacquelynn Holly trying her hand at mounted shooting. 

This year, I was able to check off a bucket list item that I have long been waiting to do! Early in 2021, I scheduled a date with two members of Boise’s Ricochet Mounted Archers - Christine Sword and Karen Danley, to trade insight on our unique skills – archery and riding aside! By the end of our collaborative session, I was riding, doing archery and so were they… although they admittedly had much more speed in their laps than I did! In addition to refining my newly learned skill, Christine grabbed my camera and shot some fun photos of Rosy and I aside with our bow and arrows! It was three fun-filled hours and a crash course for all of us to combine these two admired skills.

The Ricochet Mounted Archers and Idaho Sidesaddle Association are annual attractions at the Idaho Horse Expo. Next year, my goal is to work closely with the archery group, refine my skills and hopefully apply my newly acquired sideways talents at expo or other events throughout the valley in 2022!

Photo Credit

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Jacquelynn Holly trying out mounted archery. Photo Credit: Christine Sword 

As we all know, 2020 was so disastrous with cancelled events, but the blessing in disguise was that it allowed me to expand my horizons. I wanted to participate in anything I could that wasn’t postponed or cancelled due to COVID. So aside from mounted shooting, the lack of events in the area pushed me out of my comfort zone to do something I had long admired but hadn’t competed in yet - Equine Trail Sports (ETS). ETS is a big to-do in the Treasure Valley. Idahoans pride themselves on their equines’ agility and willingness to navigate and maneuver challenging trails in the back country, including, but not limited to, crossing the Boise River, and ascending and descending steep hills. It was my first time entering ETS, and naturally, Rosy and I immediately encountered some challenges. For example, the use of a crop or cane on the offside would have disqualified us for the entire competition! And although I explained the purpose of the cane before the competition began, we were still warned that any contact between cane and equine would instantly disqualify us, just as it would any other astride participant. We abided by the rules, tried or hardest, impressed the judges and competitors, and certainly had the crowds talking!

ETS is broken down into three levels per obstacle: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. The competitor can choose which level they would like to complete the obstacle. Rosy and I accepted the challenge of Advanced for several of the obstacles, including the steep hill descent and crossing the Boise River. She did both with ease and scored very well. However, one mistake I immediately made was holding my reins with my right hand during the descent. One of the rules outlined prior to starting the obstacle is that the rider may not switch hands at any point during the obstacle (or you don’t score). I mistakenly began the obstacle with my reins in my right hand but didn’t dare switch them to my left hand. I immediately made a mental note to pay attention to which hand my reins are in for future obstacles so I can ensure my right shoulder stays back.

Other obstacles proved to be more challenging for us, like having to open a rope gate with my left hand. The instructions were to side pass to the left to align with the gate. The competitor could not simply walk up to the gate and grab the rope. While Rosy neck reins near perfectly, my seat bones can only adjust so much to tell her to move over to the left for a side pass. This would have been an example where the cane was a pertinent component to the competition, but due to ETS rules not being adjusted for aside riders, it adds an entirely different level to the challenge.

 

Like archery, I anticipate many more sidesaddle ETS competition days in 2022. In the interim, I would love to know if anyone else has ever ridden aside in ETS. To my knowledge, it was a first in Idaho!

 

My sidesaddle representations didn’t end there, though. In winter of 2020, I also joined a Gymkhana series and competed aside in the various events offered – from pole bending to barrels and keyhole, and so many others in between. Most weekends were miserable waiting out in the cold, rain, and wind, which made our seconds of fame in the warm indoor arena even more memorable. While Rosy isn’t a speed demon, we did move out the fastest she has gone in a long time. She will be 26 in February 2022!

Of all the obstacles, the most challenging is one in which a flag must be set in a bucket of sand (so it doesn’t fall out) on the offside. This is a timed event, so speed and accuracy are a delicate balance – and leaning over the right side to reach a small bucket on the barrel is a challenge!

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Jacquelynn Holly dropping flag into the bucket.

If you haven’t brought your sidesaddle to an event where every other individual is riding astride, I strongly encourage you to do so! You will have so much interest. It is a great opportunity to tell people about the International Side Saddle Organization. As sidesaddle sisters (and misters) it is our duty to represent and spread sidesaddle knowledge.

 

So often people think riding aside is something entirely from yesteryear and no longer done today. Others have an impression they could never in their life attempt it, when the truth is that it might be easier for them to adjust to than riding astride.

 

And if you’re on a mule, more power to you! There is nothing more satisfying than accomplishing a challenge – any challenge! – on muleback against horses!

 

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Thank you Jacquelynn!

If you would like to write a side saddle related article for the next Aside World please email info@sidesaddle.com so that we can feature you!