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Side saddle riders are being asked to bequeath, loan or sell old saddles to the Side Saddle Association (SSA) to meet the “desperate need” for equipment.

There has been a revival in side saddle riding with more classes at shows and more riders in the hunting field. The “Downton Abbey effect” is also thought to have contributed to its renewed popularity.

The SSA has a hiring scheme for the show season (April-October), but there are not enough saddles to meet rising demand — the Association, celebrating its 40th anniversary, has more than 1,000 members.

“The aim of the association is to uphold the tradition, not only for the next generation but for generations to come. We must protect our heritage; but without side saddles we do not have a future,” said SSA president Maureen James.

She said new side saddles can take six to seven months to make and be expensive; saddler Tiffany Parkinson spent 180 hours making her winning entry in this year’s Society of Master Saddlers competition.

“Our members are prepared to pay a fair price and will unreservedly cherish and take pride in using and/owning it, so please don’t be afraid to entrust your valued side saddle to the next generation,” added the association’s secretary, Sally Lane.

First published in Horse & Hound magazine on 24 July 2014