March 26, 2012

Week 2.5 of riding bareback

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I never expected to be having great schooling rides bareback. We’re walking and trotting bareback and I’m not losing my seat any more. The differences in how Kasane responds to my aids are subtle but amazing.

For a while, we had trouble free lunging. She’d race from one corner to the next and not pay attention to me. We’ve had several weeks of primarily lunge line work using larger spaces. We’re still working on rehabilitation from the stifle injury, so we aren’t doing any small, tight circles. I walk in large circles with her when we lunge, so it’s more like a huge oval than a circle.

Monday she was better free lunging: instead of galloping around me, she (mostly) paid attention. She kept ignoring me when I’d ask her to walk on. Instead, she would stop and eat grass and be like “Oh you want me to do something?” She’d wait until I was next to her and then mosey a few steps and keep eating. I had to get after her. I don’t normally do that, and I always feel bad when I do, but better to have one sharp reminder and then be gentle again instead of nagging at her. She at least didn’t stop in the corners and then gallop to the next corner and stop and then gallop to the next corner. We only lunged for a little while, long enough to refresh her memory on what it meant and then reaffirm that she would free lunge well.

And then we rode. Bareback again, since I’m currently saddle-less. Kasane and I are getting used to being bareback now. I feel like my seat is back: that I’m secure on her and can (mostly) handle things. I would probably be okay even if she did a 180. The coolest thing? We’re getting to where Isis and I were when we rode: where I can think something and she does it. I thought “Let’s trot a figure 8, nice and gentle trot, nice wide circles for the figure…” She did it, too. We trotted the circle and did transitions to a walk and whoa (mostly) without touching the reins. All of the turns were just by gently turning my hips and thinking where I wanted to go. So awesome to feel that connection and be able to ride like that.

When we rode with the saddle, she would drop her back and ride with her nose out. At first we thought it was just because she was a youngster and I hadn’t asked her to come down onto the bit much. I think she was poking her little nose out because the saddle hurt her. (I am glad that I’m a good rider. It would have been so much more uncomfortable for her.) And now, she comes down onto the bit so much easier when I ask. She’s so light for queues. Just delightful. When I gave her a longer rein, she stretched her head down and really started using her back and legs. She was so relaxed.

Awesome ride. We’re really getting there. Having to ride bareback for a few weeks has been a real boon.

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