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Hang On Tight!

April 2, 2010

Last night, I was feeling tired and lazy (much like my Carlykins) and did not feel like messing with tack. Also, it was my third day in a row riding, which is a little unusual for us, so I wanted to take it easy. Clearly, we were due for a nice bareback ride!

When it gets really warm, I will ride bareback 1-2 times a week – there is just no reason to torture my horse with a saddle and pad when it is a 100 degrees plus outside. Last summer, it got so hot that I rode bareback every day that we did not have a lesson. But I also like to ride bareback when I am short on time. No saddle, no martingale, no tall boots, no spurs…

I think Carly does enjoy when I ride her bareback. She may equate it with less work or less crap on her back. But she is also a comfy bareback ride. Her back is flat and wide and her withers are low. Also, her gaits are naturally flat with little knee movement, so I find it easy to sit there and just relax. She does seem more responsive when bareback, too. She had resisted when, under a saddle and without spurs, I asked her to turn on the forehand. She responded fairly quickly to a shift in my weight bareback, though, and I enjoyed feeling her hips move as she crossed her legs one over the other. Getting a canter was slightly more difficult. I have been working on getting her to jump up into canter by increasing contact with my hands as well as applying leg pressure. When bareback, though, I didn’t quite have the balance or confidence for this, and grabbed mane for the upward transition. But then I couldnt apply enough contact on her mouth and she ended up running through my hands instead of cantering.

“You should have held mane with one hand and the reins with another,” a hrosey co-worker advised me today. Oh, right. Wish I had thought of that yesterday. Duh. Oh well, I’ll try the next time. Regardless, we did canter and it was a lovely slow rolling canter. I did almost fall off when we broke to a trot once. As I bounced my way up and down Carly’s back, I become unbalanced and started to slide. I grabbed mane, but it was too late. I ended up with one leg hooked over her back, which was holding me on, and my other leg almost to the ground. Oh dear. Shame on me for being so unorganized, but a less forgiving horse would have bucked me off. Instead, Carly slowly came to a halt as I whispered “whooo-aaa” and stood calmly while I righted myself. Really, that type of kindness and patience is typical of my girl. One of many reaons why I love her.

Later, when cantering bareback, I turned to cut across the ring in tha same spot where we turn for an inside line. Carly immediately saw the jumps and started to line herself up witht he jumps. “No, no, we’re not jumping,” I told her as I started to tighten my hands and ask her to halt. “Why not?” my trainer asked. “You can do that.”

I did not need to be told twice. I had been thinking of asking my trainer if I could jump a corss rail that evening, when her lesson was over. This was a two foot box. No trouble. Carly went straight for the jump and smoothly leapt over it, rolled down the line and over the second box. I didn’t fall off and I never felt unstable. My legs were right underneath me the whole time.
“That totally just made me night!”
“Come again,” my trainer encouraged.
This time, our line felt more fluid, although I admit to clutching mane. I had a nice loop in the reins, which is not how I have ridden since I started dressage lessons and I think Carly and I have both missed that softer contact.

The important message here is that it was a beautiful Spring night and I felt like a teenager toodling around on her pony.

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