Thursday, February 26, 2009

A quick bareback ride

A couple of hours after my farrier's visit yesterday, I went back to the barn to squeeze in a quick bareback ride before Michael came home. I had to celebrate the farrier's good news that I could ride Panama despite the crack in his hoof!

It's been just over a month since the last time I rode Panama, and that time it had been at least two months. And I can tell you, my muscles felt the neglect!

Bareback is somewhat of a balancing act on Panama. He's young still, so he's build rather like a balance beam: narrow on top and a sheer drop on either side. My saddle fitter calls it "slap-sided," and says he'll grow out of it. I certainly hope so!

But we managed, and it was good to be on horseback again. For me, I worked on finding a happy medium between muscle control and relaxing. I worry about slipping off of his narrow back, so I grip so hard with my upper thighs that it shoves my center of balance up and forward. Relaxing my grip lets me sit back and ride more comfortably, but doesn't give me quite the same level of control. Evidently I need something in between.

Besides my balance, we worked on refreshers for Panama: framing up, leg yields, that kind of thing. Then, because we were doing so well, I decided to try a couple of steps of a turn on the forehand. He got it on the first try, and every time after that, too! I was really impressed because the last time we tried this — which was admittedly nearly a year ago — I couldn't get him to do it at all.

One thing I think makes a difference is riding him bareback. I feel like he can feel my body and my cues much better. I can feel him better, too. Overall I enjoy riding bareback — I just wish I were confident enough (or he were broad enough) to trot on him comfortably!

By the time we were done with our short (10 or 15 minute) ride, my inner thighs were quivering from the effort of using those muscles again after so long. I clearly need to start riding again more often — and with the lengthening days and the gorgeous spring weather we've been having, there is no excuse not to anymore!

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