Thursday, August 25, 2011

Relaxing evening and a bareback lesson!

Last night, I met Spaghetti's owner, A, out at the barn for a playdate.  The horses didn't really play all that much, since we were in the back arena (which they don't like as much), but were pretty interested (especially Panama) in two mares in a nearby corral.  The mare's fence line was only 4 feet or so from the arena rail, so there was a distinct "look but don't touch" message going on there.  Poor Panama!  He did get to sniff noses with a calf, and I got to enjoy a lovely sunset and my friend's company, so it wasn't a wasted evening.

Today when I was grooming Panama before my lesson, I found a large, swollen bite above his shoulder.  I was hoping the saddle wouldn't interfere, but unfortunately, it was right under the edge of the knee roll, so I elected to ride bareback (with my friend's pad) for the lesson instead.  It was good, because I was wanting to do a bareback lesson sometime soon anyway, and make sure my position is all right.  I'm feeling more secure bareback, but my trainer pointed out that I need to pivot my hips forward and my shoulders back, instead of letting my back round.  I feel like a contortionist trying to get my body into the correct position!

Panama really seems to understand that he has to be a little better behaved when I'm bareback.  I don't think he always understands how to help me, being a young horse still, but he's trying.  For example, he automatically trots much slower when I'm bareback.  Occasionally he'll try to speed up, but even then he's still not going nearly as fast as he would if I were posting in the saddle.  He also spooked once today at a noise coming from the outside of the arena, where the indoor horses are turned out during the day.  I could tell he restrained himself, though, because he only jumped a little bit, and then seemed to remember himself — if I were in the saddle, I think he would have teleported sideways.

One thing I definitely need to work on is half-halting him at the trot when I'm bareback.  As she pointed out, it's got to be a difference in my body position, because when I ask him to walk, he immediately does it, with hardly any reins needed at all — he's responding to the verbal cue and my body language, signaling that I'm ready to walk.  But he's pretty much ignoring the half halts, so my trainer told me to think "walk" when I half-halt him.  Then I can let go as soon as he responds by slowing down.  It seems to work, though we'll need some more practice to get it right.

I'm enjoying riding bareback quite a bit.  I need to get my own pad like the one I'm borrowing, as I foresee myself doing a lot of bareback riding in the future!

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