Aside World Magazine
Spring 2020 Issue
New Board Member Spotlight: Laureen Bartfield
How long have you been riding aside?
I was introduced to sidesaddle in 2002. I attended an ISSO clinic and was fortunate to find a saddle at that clinic that fit my horse (a wonderful old M & M) and away I went. Knowing what I know now, I was VERY fortunate to find a quality sidesaddle so fast! The rest is history. Let’s face it – it’s addicting!
What first interested you in riding aside?
I have a dear friend that used to do reenactments with her Paso Fino horse. She rode aside at those events. It was lovely to see her in her costumes. I decided that “when I’m 40, I want to do 2 things – I want to ride sidesaddle, and I want to play the piano”. My friend, Jill, allowed me to ride her horse aside and I was hooked. We went on a trail ride, which was my first time aside. I was amazed at how comfortable and secure I was! Of course, Jill gave me proper instruction before we set out. That was it. I found a clinic in the next few months and connected with the lovely ladies of ISSO. I have ridden aside since then. (No, I still don’t play the piano…)
What disciplines do you ride aside?
I do everything aside! My soul horse, Black Tie, was a Thoroughbred x Trakehner and he was my first sidesaddle mount. We did some low level dressage, and I hunted and did hunter paces with him. We competed in English disciplines aside and we were fortunate to be chosen as one of the models for the Breyer Sidesaddle Horse. After Tie passed, I floundered in finding my next mount, but eventually stumbled upon a Mustang gelding, Miles Fidelis. Miles is my daily ride now and with Miles, I entered the worlds of Western riding, mounted shooting, and trail competitions. I have done all of those aside but I currently enjoy trail riding given my very busy professional life. Those who know Miles know that he can be a grumpy old man at times, so I am starting another Mustang aside, Diesel, hoping he will at least go around with his ears up!
What do you enjoy most riding aside?
I really enjoy just about anything. It is fun to show up at an event and ride aside and answer all of the many questions that other clinic participants or competitors have about sidesaddle.
Do you have just one horse that you ride aside?
As mentioned, I have two horses that I currently ride – both Mustangs. I think just about any horse can go sideways. Provided you sit balanced and straight, and you have a proper fitting saddle, there should be no problem. I am just partial to Mustangs. However, I have had a full Belgian draft mare and other warmbloods that I have ridden aside.
What do you find most challenging?
For me, it has been keeping my confidence. Sometimes I marvel that 18 year ago, I hunted and did hunter paces hell bent for leather, aside. Something definitely happens when you have an injury and/or you get older… But on my current horses, I feel like we can do anything together and be fine. So long as I remember “right shoulder back”, “right leg back and against the horse”, I will be OK!
What advice would you give to someone interested in trying to ride aside?
I would say go for it! BUT, be sure that you seek quality instruction, on a safe horse, with a proper fitting saddle. I was so fortunate to find an ISSO clinic as my first introduction to riding sideways. And my second clinic was with Roger Philpot! And then Shelly Liggett started Camp Leaping Horn! What a hoot! I think it is so sad that there are so many ladies that want to ride aside and they get into a bind when they pick up a cheap saddle off of eBay and try to ride aside on a poorly built saddle, without proper instruction. They have a bad experience and give up. Hopefully they don’t get hurt! This can be fun, AND safe. But you need to go about it the right way.
Why did you join ISSO?
I joined almost immediately in order to learn more and meet like-minded ladies. I found some great mentors and quickly became immersed in the world of sideways riding. A few years later, I was asked to run for a position on the Board and have been involved in ISSO ever since.
What would you like to see ISSO accomplish in the future?
I would like to see ISSO hold more clinics and provide the same opportunities to new members that I had when I was lusting after this sport. I was so fortunate to find the resources that I did, when I did. I want to be able to offer the same thing to ladies just like me. ISSO has a great new web site and a kick-ass newsletter. I would like to see some other events take place in the coming year.
What do you do when you are not riding?
I am a veterinarian and my husband and I have a small farm in NC outside of Raleigh. I run a non-profit spay neuter clinic for dogs and cats called the Spay Neuter Assistance Program of NC, Inc. I also have an equine focused holistic practice called Triangle Holistic Veterinary Service and I provide chiropractic, acupuncture and rehabilitation services. In my spare time (hah!), I rescue animals, especially kill pen horses and donkeys.
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