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Television reality show Ladette to Lady returns on 22 January for a third series — with a horsey twist.

This time the eight “ladettes” must learn to ride side-saddle, as well as getting to grips with table manners and flower arranging, in their quest to become polished young ladies.

Along with lessons in elocution, needlework, flower arranging, etiquette and cookery at Eggleston Hall, a finishing school in Teesside, the girls have swapped hot pants and cropped tops for crops and riding boots, with kit supplied by Toggi.

Series producer Karen Plumb from RDF Media said: “We included side-saddle lessons as it is the most ladylike way to ride and also because it is The Queen’s preferred method of riding and she must be the ultimate lady.”

The girls were taught by Sarah Sherwin and Kate Henderson from the Side Saddle Association (SSA).

Sarah said: “I think they did remarkably well. Once they were sitting well they started to look beautiful. Underneath it all they’re lovely people.”

Participating ladette Nicole Hart from Romford, Essex, used to have a horse but sold it when she was 15.

She said: “It’s just so nice to be back on a horse, it made me realise how much of it is part of me. I used to have a horse and I sold him for all the wrong reasons. A lot of the time I was getting out of my nut.”

One programme participant even went on to compete at the side-saddle championships last August.

“But I can’t comment on who it was because it would give away the outcome of the show,” said Shirley Oultram, SSA chairman and one of the judges on the show. “We were delighted to be involved with the programme. The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I was very impressed with how quickly they picked it up.”

Each week in the series one ladette is expelled from the school with the last three taking part in a difficult final test to decide who really has undergone the ultimate transformation from ladette to lady.

The first episode is on ITV1, 22 January, 9pm.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (17 January, ’08)