Side Glance – the horse who takes everything in his stride
When she is not working for Kingsclere trainer Andrew Balding, Leanne White is busy looking after her stepchildren and the 13-year-old gelding Side Glance. As a racehorse he took her around the world and now they are looking after each other and much more besides.
I had looked after Sidey (Side Glance) when he was in-training from when he was a 4-year-old but I had ridden him regularly since he had come up from Kingsclere Stud (where he was bred) to be broken in.
During our time together I was lucky enough to travel Sidey around the world, often it was just the two of us and I remember celebrating my birthday one year sat in his stable in a barn at Monmouth Park in New Jersey eating pizza not knowing a single, solitary soul! On the track he was so tough and consistent, being placed in many Group 1’s and winning the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in Melbourne in 2013.
Sidey retired from racing with a tendon injury in 2015. His owner, Sheikh Fahad very kindly gifted him to me and he went to a friend of mine’s yard who already had and was eventing a lovely former racehorse that I had also looked after in training called Pentecost. Sidey was turned away for a year before being retrained for showing which my friend Sarah really wanted to do with him and I used to go and help her and ride him whenever I wasn’t racing. Although Sidey won his first in hand show it didn’t really seem to be his thing so Sarah started doing a bit of dressage with him which he really seemed to enjoy. She took him to a few competitions, and we took him and Pentecost to Ascot a couple of times after being asked to join the RoR parade on King George day. Last June I got married and my husband and I took our vows in a little copse on top of a hill at a local dairy farm and Sidey carried me up the hill in my wedding dress!
Last November Sarah retired Pentecost who is now 21 and enjoying himself turned out with another old boy. She also decided to hang her boots up which at the time seemed desperately sad but she wanted time to concentrate on other things. Thankfully, by then I had stopped travelling the racehorses so much since being married and having two stepchildren to help take care of. This meant I could take Sidey on full-time. I took him to Enbourne Equestrian in January to do an Intro and a Prelim test (after having quite a few lessons, my dressage experience was nil!), it was horrendous weather, so there were not many other competitors and in lashing hail and strong winds Sidey clicked into pro mode and we came away with a red rosette! This gave me real hope that we could do the dressage thing and I was quietly hoping we could get qualified for the RoR Dressage Championships at Blenheim in September. Then Covid happened!
We used lockdown to really concentrate on balanced transitions, did pole work and even got him to lift his front legs when asked to jump. Sidey is by no means a natural jumper! All the while my 11-year-old stepdaughter Jemima had been helping me with him.
Jemima had had a few lessons in the past but was still a little nervous around horses. Sidey has changed that! When I’m brushing him he’ll often give me a nip or raise a hind leg but with Jemima he will tolerate anything. He can be as strong as an ox and often tanks to his field with me flying off the end of the lead rope, not with Jemima, he walks out like a loyal black lab! She has learnt to lunge him and I have given her lunge lessons on him in which she had her first ever canter on a G1 winning racehorse! If she gets a little wobbly he’ll pull-up slowly so she can right herself. It’s incredible to watch and her confidence has just soared.
If that hadn’t been enough to make me see how amazing Sidey is, in July I was bucked off a little colt I was riding out for Andrew (Balding), I landed badly on my right ankle dislocating it and breaking it in four places. It was plated and after eight weeks my surgeon said I could start getting back to doing my normal everyday activities. Woo-hoo I was straight back in the saddle giving complete disregard to my poor tendons and ligaments that hadn’t had a chance to heal! I went to see the physio at Oaksey House (run by the Injured Jockeys’ Fund) who told me it would be at least another month before I could ride with my feet in the irons as my tendon was so inflamed and irritated. So stirrup free we have been for the last three weeks (I have found my abs again!).
As well as being very strong Sidey can also be incredibly sharp at times but I swear he knows I’m just totally useless at the moment and that he really needs to look after me. He has been an absolute saint and I am just so proud of him. Not only was he an amazing racehorse he is just an amazing horse who has always taken and continues to take whatever is thrown at him. From flights around the world, to dogs running under him, to my two-year-old nephew squealing for joy on his back, to me bouncing around with no stirrups trying to make that canter to trot transition look pretty!
Sidey is my hero.
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