Broadford’s Stacey Rusic takes a step back in time
BROADFORD resident Stacey Rusic is a vintage lover; everything from fashion, lifestyle and traditional style for a woman to ride a horse.
His love for earlier times allowed him to stumble over riding in the side saddle. A driving style in which she has been involved for eight years now.
âI don’t know where the fascination for the side-saddle comes from. I always joke and tell people I was born in the wrong timeâ¦ I love vintage, âsaid Rusic.
The side saddle involves the woman keeping both of her legs on one side of the horse rather than straddling. The style dates back to the 14th century, when it was originally seen as a way to preserve a woman’s modesty and maintain an appropriate level of decency.
The idea eclipsed the practical reasoning of the lateral saddle; women would wear long, heavy skirts which made it quite uncomfortable for them to ride astride even if they tried.
Rusic said she has been asked multiple times as to why she would be so interested in some form of riding that belittles a woman rather than making her equal to a man.
However, with some explanation and understanding the development of the lateral saddle, people realize that the riding style allows women to be equal.
âSide-saddle was one of the first releases for a woman to be equal and do the same things a man could do,â Rusic said.
âThe design of the saddle has evolved over the years to allow a woman to become equal and do whatever a man can.
âIt’s not like the men just let the women sit on the horse; saddlers constantly made saddles comfortable enough for women to ride.
âSo it’s funny the misconception that we’re going back in time or that it’s holding a woman back, when it’s really the opposite.
“When you explain that to people, they say ‘hey you’re right’ and understand the style a lot more.”
Rusic has been riding a horse since she can walk.
Growing up in the suburbs, however, was limited to the amount of riding she could achieve simply because there was no space for her to keep a horse.
Riding all the time was a luxury that Rusic was unable to achieve, which made it very special when she was able to ride a horse.
It wasn’t until Rusic lived near Wangaratta that she did some research on the side-saddle and what was available in Australia.
âI found that there were only two side-saddle qualified riders in Australia; one in New South Wales and one in Queensland, âshe said.
To become a qualified side-saddle instructor, Rusic had the choice of traveling to New Zealand, the UK, or the US.
âSo I went to New Zealand to take my side saddle exams to start becoming a side saddle instructor myself,â she said.
Rusic’s roster had been altered over the past 12 months as Australia and New Zealand implemented strict border closures during the coronavirus pandemic.
She received special approval from the United States to continue her distance education.
Meanwhile, the UK, US and New Zealand realized that it wouldn’t be any time soon that Rusic, and others qualifying for side-saddles, could travel freely to finish. their studies.
Side organizations have since become more accommodating, Rusic said.
âIt was tough enough when I was face to face with a side-saddle instructor. I noticed all the bad habits I had taken along the way … it was obviously even more difficult then [during the pandemic] when we were limited to what we could travel.
Completing my qualification online was very helpful, âshe said.
In early March, Rusic competed in the Australian National Championships at Boneo Park on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
With the limited opportunity to participate in a side saddle show, Rusic had to wait to compete in Australia’s Arab National Championships until she had an Arabian horse.
âI haven’t been very lucky in the sense that there aren’t a lot of side-saddle classes to compete in. There aren’t a lot of places to do it and be able to do it with a level playing field and compete with other side saddle riders, âshe said.
“Because [Australia doesnât] have a national side saddle competition, the only class or association that offers it is the Australian Arabian, but I couldn’t compete because I had never had an Arabian breeding horseâ¦ until this year I bought an Arab rearing horse and was able to enter afterwards.
At the start of the day, Rusic expected to face three more riders. However at the last minute; all three withdrew from the competition, making her the only competitor.
In equestrian competition, if the rider is the only competitor in a class, the judges are not required to give them a classification or a title just because they are the only ones to ride.
Riders must always demonstrate that they deserve to be classified.
“It’s happened a few times where I’m competing against myself, and therefore with a ‘default’ win, which is probably a bad way to look at it,” she said.
âIt makes it difficult to scale a national title, but anyone has the capacity to step into the class and has every right to decide whether or not they are right.
âIt’s good to know that all those hard years doing what I do on my own is recognized with a national title. I wouldn’t have received the title if the judges didn’t think I deserved the top spot.
Rusic hopes her love of the side saddle can rub off on those she teaches, including the kids who are part of the pony club.
As part of Rusic’s company, Same Side Saddle, she goes to pony clubs to teach children to ride; with so much interest that she is booked for the next 12 months.
âI specialize in teaching children at the pony club. The club will book me and the day I head to the rally I will teach the kids theory and then ride the horses with a side saddle. It’s something they would probably never get the chance to do or experience, âshe said.
âThe first time you jump in the side saddle is the most exhilarating feeling. It’s just so different, but it’s so familiar. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.
âBy teaching more and trying to involve people in the discipline, it will only get more people interested and involved.