Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time for a quickie

Saturday I was running short on time, so I went to the barn for a quickie with Panama — a quick ride, that is.

In the interest of saving time, I rode Panama bareback and in flip flops. It has been a while since I last rode bareback, and I've improved my balance and control a lot since then, but I still didn't bother trying to trot. For one thing, since Panama has lost a little weight, I didn't really relish the idea of bouncing around on his bony spine; but also, if I did happen to fall off, I didn't want to risk breaking my ankle in those flip flops!

Nevertheless, it was a fun ride. I'd forgotten how much I like being able to feel the muscles of Panama's back work as he takes every step. We practiced stopping, backing, and sticking to the rail at the walk. He did beautifully.

Mounting was interesting. I usually ride in the back pasture, where I can mount using the cement base on one of the supports for the run-in shelter there. In order to mount in the arena, I had to take the plastic mounting block out there. It's the first time I've used the mounting block when Panama isn't in cross ties, and at first he didn't understand that I wanted to put it next to him. He kept sidestepping to get away from it, but I continued to follow him with it until he stopped. Once he figured that out, he stood quietly and let me mount.

Panama was definitely curious about the different routine — in particular, the different footwear. He likes to turn his head and nuzzle my (or my trainer's) boots when they're in the stirrups, particularly when we change riders. He usually only does this once or twice, but during yesterday's ride, he was so interested in my bare toes that he did this just about every time we stopped walking for a moment or two. A couple of times he even started to mouth them a little, but I scolded him every time, as I was a little afraid that he'd bite my toes!

The only other notable thing that happened was that Panama startled once when something rustled in the bushes on the other side of the arena fence. Luckily he just tensed and jumped a little bit, but didn't lose his head or try to break into a trot. Still, though, I was pretty pleased that I was able to keep my seat on his narrow, slippery back!

The entire time I was riding bareback, I could feel that I was using those inner thigh muscles that I've been building with all my posting practice. I even posted a few times at the walk, just to see if I could lift myself off his back using those muscles — and I was pleased to find that I could, a little. I will have to try trotting bareback again sometime, though I think I will wait until he gains a little weight back!

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