Sunday, March 30, 2008

Riding my horse bareback

Although my horse has been behaving very strangely lately, we actually had a really good day today.

He was grazing (or trying to — the grass is still really short) with the other horses in the back pasture when I arrived. I brought him into the barn, put him in cross ties, groomed him, and spoiled him rotten with horse treats, as usual.

I was planning on riding him, but remembering his crazy training session on Wednesday, I decided to lunge him first. I lunged him briefly in each direction; he needed a little reminding that he really does need to obey commands, but once we worked that out he was actually pretty responsive — i.e. I only needed to tell him once in each direction not to cut the circle too close as he trotted toward home, and every circle after that was perfectly rounded.

He was doing well, so I decided to go ahead and ride him, as I'd planned. I rode him bareback, for three reasons:

1) I don't have my own saddle yet,
2) I'm not crazy about the saddles (one Western, one English) my trainer is lending me, and
3) I'm more comfortable riding bareback anyway.

I had already put the bareback pad on him before lunging him, so I just changed out to the bridle in the makeshift arena. My husband gave me a boost to help me mount.

Panama and I had a couple of spats over turning, probably because it was the first time I had ever ridden him in the makeshift arena. We usually work him in the back pasture, but almost the entire herd was out there today. I've only ridden him in the front pasture once, and that was almost a complete disaster — he'd only turn to the right (not to the left), and he wouldn't go where I wanted him to go (which was away from the barn).

Today started out much the same way, but my trainer had made a few suggestions since then. So when Panama tried not to ignore the reins when he didn't want to turn a certain way, or when he wanted to turn toward home when I hadn't asked him to, I used a good kick in the shoulder to make him mind.

(That is, when I was trying to get him to turn left and he wouldn't, I kicked him in the right shoulder at the same time as I used the left rein. If he tried to turn right when I didn't want him to, I kicked him in the right shoulder while using the left rein to straighten him back out.)

After a few times of that in each direction, he started minding again, and the rest of our ride was pretty enjoyable.

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