A soldier who has never ridden side-saddle before has been challenged to do so in a 7f race in January.
Staff Sergeant Peter Pagan-Skelley of the Royal Artillery Saddle Club hopes to raise £2,000 for the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund, which supports current and former soldiers and their dependants.
Peter told H&H: “Our local saddler is Bearhouse Saddlery run by Clare Barnett, who is an avid side-saddler. She is part of a side-saddle group called the Wonky Outlaws. We were running a have-a-go day and I said I’d leave it to the professionals when Clare set me the challenge.
“It came about because it’s the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. A lot of veterans came back from the war wounded and having lost limbs and they learnt to ride side saddle as often it was the only way they could ride if they’d lost a lower limb. It was actually very commonplace then, and there’s a lot of military riders who ride side-saddle now.”
Peter will be riding a 17.2hh ISH whom he fondly calls ‘Inspector Gadget’, in a flat race at a Royal Artillery (RA) point-to-point meeting in the first week of January.
“He’s called that because the moment I saw him he has these huge long legs and when he jumps if he doesn’t get it right there’s these go-go gadget legs and they just go everywhere,” he said.
Neither Peter nor Gadget has undertaken side-saddle before.
“I have the help of Chloe Gunn who rode at the side-saddle national championships this year, Cindy Sims a local instructor, and some side-saddle ladies who are members of the RA hunt who are going to take me out for hacks. They said the best thing I could do is just get hours in the saddle doing normal things.
“Gadget has just had his first side-saddle fitting. We’re hoping to get the saddle in the next couple of weeks but obviously it’s important it fits him absolutely perfectly so we’re not causing any harm or discomfort. It’s just about making sure he’s happy.”
In return if Peter is successful the Wonky Saddle Club has agreed to a jumping challenge.
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Clare told H&H: “We have been challenged to jump a grid with no hands side-saddle and one of us will do it bareback. I haven’t left the ground in about 30 years. We are all determined at the Wonky Saddle Club.”
Peter added: “Hopefully everyone will donate as much as they can for the RA Charitable Fund. We see many servicemen who fall on hard times and that’s what its there for.”
The challenge can be followed on Facebook at Challenge Side Saddle.