We first met Chloe at Blenheim Horse Trials, after following her side-saddle journey with 'Cow Pony' on social media for a number of years. Not only has Chloe been awarded the prestigious Side-Saddle Rider of the Year in 2018, with her wonderful horse Bertie winning Side-Saddle Horse of the Year too, she has been a member of the 'Bit on the Side' side-saddle display team for a number of years. As if being a side-saddle extraordinaire wasn't enough, Chloe and her husband Thomas are diversifying his family farm by introducing a milk vending machine and creating scrumptious ice creams and milkshakes from their mollycoddled (in the best way!) dairy herd.
Chloe also very bravely hunts side-saddle and has started eventing her other horse Marley, with great success. Fortunately for us, Chloe accepted our offer of being a Brand Ambassador for Glaze & Gordon and has got to work trying out some of our products including the Goode Rider Equestrian Jeans and a lovely show jacket from US brand Kerrits.
Be prepared to go on a journey with Chloe and Cow Pony through these questions (and not forgetting Marley!), some of her answers and the achievements they have together gave us goose bumps!
So, It is safe to say that you and Bertie (aka The Cow Pony!) are side-saddle legends! Having followed your Facebook page for a number of years we've always marvelled at the bravery of hunting side-saddle! How did you originally start in side-saddle? Do you have any advice to anyone wanting to give it a go?
Thank you so much, he most definitely is, although I am not so sure about me!
I have had Bertie since I was 14 years old, I had one pony before him as I am not from a horsey family. Bertie was rising 6 years old when he came into my life, the ambition was to one day ride at a county show, the ones I had been to watch as a horse mad child! The following year we attended the Leicestershire County Show and we won... the year after he took the overall Championship! That set the tone for our entire partnership.
Five years later (2012) he had achieved so many of my dreams and we were looking for a new challenge. A judge at a show had mentioned he would look nice side-saddle, so we got in contact with Emma Brown (all round side-saddle and hunting legend, otherwise known as 'Queenie') and the rest we could say is history! Any dreams that we had previously achieved together were smashed out of the park and all made possible by, my now wonderful friend, Emma.
Firstly my advice would be to 100% give it a go! There are lots of opportunities around the UK for people to try side-saddle. The UK is split into areas and each area has qualified instructors and some even have horses you can learn on too! All of the information is on the side-saddle association website, you will find the contact details on there too. I am also happy to advise and help if anyone wishes to message me on my social media channels.
What qualities does Bertie possess that make him so good for side-saddle, especially as part of 'A Bit On The Side'? Can any horse make the transition to side-saddle?
I believe that any horse can become a side-saddle horse. Within the side saddle world there are horses (and riders) of all shapes and sizes that compete successfully, from Thoroughbred to Cobs, to Haflingers and smaller ponies! Side-saddle is for everyone, often it is used as a second career for horses that have previously competed in a chosen discipline to a very high level.
Bertie has so many wonderful qualities; his obedience has to be one of the things that makes him so good for side-saddle. The transition to side-saddle is much easier if the horse is already fairly well schooled on the flat astride, a horses that is ridden side-saddle should be mannerly and obedient. Bertie and I absolutely love being part of 'A Bit On The Side', it is always the highlight of our year going out to our displays with the team. Bertie loves a crowd and always rises to the occasion, this is something you can't teach, he is a natural showman and will produce his best work if there is an applause and a crowd - it's his MOST favourite thing! His unflappable temperament, rideability and showmanship make him an ideal display horse, you may have even seen me with an umbrella riding round! He is the very definition of bombproof.
Out hunting with the Cattistock, photograph by Tanzy Lee, and Cow Pony at Royal Windsor Show photographed by Frog & Field.
How long have you been part of the display team, and how did you get involved? What is the highlight of your side-saddle career so far?
I first did a display with the team in 2014 (I think!), we were side-saddle newbies and had only been riding side-saddle for just over a year. As I mentioned earlier, I went for lessons with Emma Brown, she is part of the team and had suggested that Bertie and I might be a suitable fit for a place that had arisen after another teammate had moved to Ireland. I was so grateful and so proud to be asked to join, I still am! We did a small display as a county fair and then we got thrown straight in at Blenheim Palace and we both loved every minute! It was clear Cow Pony had found his 'thing', performing in front of a crowd. I remember keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that we would be invited back to do displays again, now we are part of the furniture!
A side-saddle career highlight, that is a tough one, there have been SO many. There are two that really stand out so I am going to mention them both in chronological order (I can't pick between them!):
In 2015 Bertie and I were amongst a small group of side-saddle riders that were selected on the British team to ride at Aachen, Germany in the opening ceremony of the FEI European Games. We had the most incredible experience of our lives and one I will never forget. The famous Aachen area was sold out to an audience of 40,000 people and the atmosphere was electric, so much so as we walked through the curtain it just hit you like a big gust of hot air! My little Cow Pony loved every second, a crowd of 40,000 all for him and not an ear plug or calmer in sight!
2018 was our year, the year of dreams. We were awarded the coveted Side-Saddle Rider of the Year award and Bertie as the Side-Saddle Horse of the Year, he really did deserve it. Together as a partnership we have won all three adult side-saddle Rider of the Year awards; Novice (2013), Intermediate (2014) and the Open (2018). I doubted him as I didn't think he would ever be good enough to win the Rider of the Year outright, but as always he proved me wrong!
We can't let Bertie take the entire limelight, please tell us about your other horse Marley - and what do you have planned for his future? Do you think hunting has an impact on the way a horse matures?
I have owned Marley since he was 10 months old, he is now a 7 year old. I had one too many gins on the way to Cheltenham Races in 2016 and put a deposit down on a foal unseen! He was a very difficult youngster, I thought about selling him numerous times (nobody wanted him), then he broke my nose whilst I was breaking him in and I thought then that he HAD to go. A good friend finished the breaking process and persuaded me otherwise.. I could sell him ten times over now! I am so glad I decided to keep him.
The plan has always been to ride him side-saddle and take him to the Side-Saddle National Championships one day, however, I am in no rush. I am enjoying learning about eventing with him, he absolutely loves it and I simply can't believe how successful he has been so far. He is the complete opposite of Bertie in every imaginable way, both to ride and to look at. I want to keep eventing, I am thoroughly enjoying it and he appears to be very talented so it would be nice to qualify for one of the Grassroot Championships.
The ultimate goal would be to ride Marley in the Rider of the Year final at the National Side-Saddle Show, he looks fantastic side-saddle and is so comfortable. He has been to Dorset country show aside last year as a 6 year old and took the Championship so I hope that bodes well for his future!
I absolutely think hunting has an impact on the way a horse matures, however, I think sometimes it depends on the horse and their brain. Bertie has always been quite backwards thinking and nappy, you couldn't really get him to go across country but out hunting and team chasing he would fly! Hunting made Bertie braver and more confident with his jumping, as a young horse we would get eliminated as he would stop so often. Marley, however, is the complete opposite. Napping is not in his vocabulary and he is sol bold over fences. He can be quite spicy to ride, so at the moment I don't plan to hunt him. I don't think educationally he needs it, he's forward and happy in his way of going and I think at this stage hunting might well blow his brains. One day in the future I would like to, but right now it is not the move for him. Hunting definitely has it's place in the education of young horses, depending what you want to achieve from taking them.
Eweleaze Dairy Organic seems to be a really successful and interesting venture, what gave you the idea of a vending machine? Please tell us how you get your products so creamy, and how the extra care you give your herd goes such a long way? We hope the farming side of life doesn't interrupt with pony time too much!
It is crazy to believe that we started the vending machine over two years ago! We were trying to think of a way to diversify the farm, we had seen milk vending machines in Europe and liked the idea of them. At the time there was only a very small handful of the in the UK, so we were one of the first!
My husband, Thomas, is the fourth generation of his family to farm, I think this plays a huge part in the secret to our delicious products. I pasteurise the milk gently which helps to keep its flavour, it is not homogenised either which adds to the creaminess! We always get comments on our creamy ice cream. We are one of the only ice cream makers that have the benefit of making our ice cream with raw milk; the ice cream machine pasteurises the milk, so our ice cream is only pasteurised once rather than twice which is why it tastes so delicious!
The dairy herd are thoroughly spoiled, they go out to grass for most of the year and have their own nutritionist and foot trimmers! Farming is a wonderful way of like, it's hard work but it is a very nice lifestyle. There are some interruptions but I wouldn't be able to have my lovely boys (and shetland) at home if it wasn't for the farm.
What is/are your favourite items from G&G so far? What is it about the brand that drew you to us?
I have loved G&G since I first ever saw the brand at Blenheim Horse Trials. The trade stand just looked like a bit of me, all of the things I love in one place. The brand gives a real country feel, with equestrianism thrown in too, which is my idea of the perfect shop! I love the branding, navy & gold are my favourite colours for the horses and I do love to be coordinated. I absolutely love all the products and the timeless look they all have.
My favourite thing is that these products are not just products you can pick up everywhere, they have a unique feel and I know they will stand the test of time. The customer service I have received from Becs has bee outstanding, from the beautifully packaged parcels in the post, to her remembering me at shows. I have always felt like a valued customer and I think being made to feel like this goes a long way. I am so proud to now be an ambassador for this wonderful brand.
Chloe aboard Marley in our Goode Rider Full Seat Equestrian Jean.
Chloe wearing the Kerrits Stretch Competitor Koat.