Aside World Magazine
Spring 2021 Issue
My Side Saddle Adventure
Article and Photos provided by: Chase Day
Hello! My name is Chase Day and I live near Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. As a reenactor doing everything from Viking to Victorian era, I had always wanted to learn sidesaddle but none of my horses were suitable as I am a very nervous rider, I have green spooky horses and it all seemed a bit too daunting. Then in December 2019 I began to lease a very well trained and placid donkey named Wendanjo Susannah. Her owner seemed to think she would have no problems with sidesaddle so I decided now was the time!
My first quest was to find a suitable saddle. My first purchase was a complete disaster – a horrid black leather overseas import that fit neither Susannah, nor me. I reached out over the internet for help, and was lucky enough to meet the incredible Stacey Rusic of Same Side Equestrian. She began to help me on my quest and we found a saddle we thought my work. Unfortunately, it was a 4 hour drive away. Undaunted, I loaded up a trace of Susannah’s back and did the drive…. Just my luck that Melbourne had gone into Covid lockdown that week so I had to run the gauntlet trying to explain to police that I just HAD to go and get this saddle! I made it there and back and the saddle was a fit with a queen and the odd sheepskin shim here and there. The hideous black monstrosity was eventually donated to Stacey for her educational displays.
Then I needed to learn to ride in the thing. My first lesson involved my riding instructor and I attempting it on our own with the help of The Horsewoman, by Alice Hayes. When I tried to mount, we had to work out how to manage it without a gentleman present to assist as Ms Hayes seemed to think that was crucial to the undertaking. Me attempting to dismount was even more hilarious. I am sure Susannah was convinced we are all out of our minds.Once again, Stacey came to the rescue and gave me a lesson over Zoom – with my instructor holding my phone camera and relaying instructions. Not ideal, but it got the ball rolling as it were.
Finally Covid restrictions eased a bit and I was able to have face-to-face lessons with Stacey. We live a few hours apart, so I organize clinics with some local friends and she comes over and teaches us all. I am currently working up my confidence to canter. Susannah has taken to it all like an absolute champion and I am hoping to compete her sidesaddle at our next donkey show.
The sidesaddle community have been enormously welcoming and I look forward to ongoing adventures with my donk on the wonk.
Photo Above of Chase in 14th Century Outfit
Photo Above of entry of first online show
Thank you Chase!!
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Photo Above of First Lesson with Stacey Rusic