Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of teaching many different people and horses all varying in shape, size and ability. It is never too late to start for human or equine but let me first put your mind at rest as to what this is going to cost you and, dispel any thoughts of taking out a second mortgage! There is no need to invest in a habit, bowler, veil or side saddle to begin. After all, we do not don our full show gear for a lesson or a hack in the country. As long as you follow the basic rules of safety, a British Standard safety hat, jodhpurs and boots and find a qualified instructor you are ready to begin.
As for you personally, as with any sport, general fitness does help and even if you ride a lot astride you will discover new muscles when you enter into this form of equitation! As with anything new “slowly does it” and most find that half an hour is more than enough to begin with.
Now for the all important questions, will your own horse suit the job? Very few horses object to this change in career; however certain factors will make your life easier. For obvious reasons a wild, unschooled runaway would not be my choice of mount for a novice side saddle rider! Conformation can also play an important part in finding a saddle that sits straight and stays still with the rider mounted. Cobs, with broad shoulders and little wither, are perhaps the hardest to fit but are certainly not impossible. Indeed the side saddle horse comes in all different shapes and sizes and does not need to be a winning show hunter!