Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Practice, practice, practice

Does it get boring that I keep writing about all my bareback rides?  I rode bareback again last night — for only about 30 minutes, but I find that's usually about all I can take bareback.  I'm mostly trotting these days, though I always take a few minutes, usually toward the end, to work on leg yields and turns on the haunches and the forehand.

I'm finding that as I start feeling more secure at the trot, I'm able to do more with my lower legs without feeling like it throws off my balance.  At the same time, Panama is getting a lot more responsive to leg and seat cues.  I've been doing a lot of "butt-steering," and I'm continually amazed how responsive he is to that.  Just the slightest shift and he responds!  I can keep him going straight by making sure I'm keeping my weight even between both seat bones, too.  I think he is enjoying the bareback practice, and our heightened awareness of one another, as much as I am.

He's also getting much better about maintaining a constant (and slow-ish) pace.  At one point last night I realized that we'd been trotting for a long time without him changing his pace whatsoever.  That's a pretty big accomplishment for him!

I'm still trying to work up the nerve to try cantering bareback.  I've been thinking about it a lot while riding, so close sometimes to just going ahead and asking for it, but so far I haven't really had the right circumstances.  I want it to be a night when no one else is there, because I don't want to have to worry about distractions and navigating around someone else in the arena.  He'll also have to be behaving himself, of course, as I'm most concerned about that upward transition — sometimes, especially when he's excited about it, he still will explode into the canter just a little bit.  And I want my husband there... just in case!



At October 19, 2011 at 6:12 AM, Anonymous Glenatron said...

30 Minutes is a very respectable time to be riding bareback - it's quite probably as much as your horse would want as well; our seatbones can really focus our weight in a small area of the back when we ride without a saddle.

I found cantering bareback with a competent friend at the other end of a lunge line was a great way to get the hang of sitting better to my horse's canter.

At October 30, 2011 at 11:45 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Glenatron, thanks for commenting! Yes, I've definitely heard before that riding bareback causes our tailbone and seatbones to put more focused pressure on a horse's spine. I do use a pad for that reason, so that there is at least some cushion for his sake (and mine!). But I hadn't thought of the fact that if I get sore after 30 minutes or so, he probably does too!

Thanks for the suggestion of cantering on a lunge line. I may actually canter for the first time with my trainer present -- perhaps not on a lunge line (I think I'll actually feel more confident if I just do it, if you know what I mean) but I want her there to give me reminders and make sure I'm not doing anything stupid (like putting my heels in my horse's belly!).


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