The National Side-Saddle Show
The Three Counties Showground,
Friday to Sunday, August 4 - 6, 2000
"Malvern"--the culmination of the British side-saddle riding world's year. By Sunday evening over 170 combinations of horse and rider from all over Britain will have competed in the 60 all-side-saddle classes in the world's biggest side-saddle show. 90 of them will have qualified at equestrian shows all over the United Kingdom since last year's Show.
The National Show includes the Langston & Caldene Side-Saddle Equitation Championships--five classes at different age or skill levels. They demonstrate the Association's concentration, before all else, on developing and improving riding skills.
The annual battle for the title of Side-Saddle Rider of the Year, currently held by Liz Rogers, from Roger Philpot's yard at Pittern Hill, Warwickshire, will be fought about 5.30 pm on the Saturday, and Liz will attempt to pull off a hat-trick.
Susannah Unwin, from Baythorne, Essex, will be competing in her last National Show as a Junior. She, too, aims to retain her title, as Junior Side-Saddle Rider of the Year, for the third year running.
The National Show has run annually ever since the Side Saddle Association was founded in 1974. Originally a one-day show, it has steadily expanded over the years to its present three-day format: unaffiliated dressage (B.D. levels range from Preliminary to Elementary) on Friday, equitation and other major Championships on Saturday, show-jumping on Sunday. The Show Director is Joanna Gillespie, from Vicarage Farm Stables and of Richmond Horse Show fame.
This is not exclusively a Championship Show. It includes opportunities for everyone to enjoy themselves riding side-saddle, regardless of levels of experience and skill (or age--the youngest entry so far comes from a four-year-old; while we don't ask the Mature Riders to declare their ages, as long as they at least appear to be over 50 years of age), and includes numerous showing classes. For those who love dressing up, there are fancy dress and costume classes, in which ingenuity (if not absolute historical accuracy) is given full rein.
Horses range in size from 11.1 hh to 18.1 hh. Breeds are not taken into consideration.
For the less seriously equestrian-minded, Friday evening also sees a fun dog show. There almost any canine can, and does, win (never heard of a Best Barker class?); while Saturday evening closes to a disco, with a DJ this year from Blackpool Tower.
Late entries are still coming in (now at a modest surcharge). As they "officially" closed on July 8, latecomers, other than late qualifiers, must expect disappointments, especially in open and "Adults Only" dressage classes--several of them are already over-subscribed.
Visitors from outside Britain (Holland and France especially come to mind) attend the National Show regularly, and competitors from the US have entered in recent years. A feature this year is hoped (though not yet certain) to include a display, side-saddle of course, by a trio of Shetlands from France.
Visiting the Show involves no cost other than travel (and accommodation). The Three Counties Show Ground is well sign-posted from the M5 and M50 motorways. Enter by the Yellow Gate, follow the sign-posts to the Side Saddle Association's show; and then just wander round the rings--up to five of them going at any one time.
For full details of the extensive programme, see the Side Saddle Association's web site at www.equiworld.com/ssa.
Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for the 24-page Schedule
(also available on request in .pdf format).