September 23, 2010

Bare Essentials

There are so many ways to ride a horse: English, English country pleasure, hunt seat, dressage, English side saddle, western, western pleasure, roping, western sidesaddle and then you can get into the country specific ways to ride a horse such as a Peruvian Paso or the Arabian horse. Most times riding a horse involves a saddle of some sort. The saddle provides, theoretically, comfort for the human rider and comfort for the vehicular equine; though there are arguments against this in regards to both species.

I remember only two times riding a horse bareback. Once was a when I was around 12 during a Breyer horse show at the 4-H grounds in Loudon County Virginia. The horses stabled there were used for therapedic riding; which I had often helped along side my mother during the summer months. My favorite horse was a Meiko, a bay gelding that was very gentle and sweet. I simply adored him but of course never got to ride him. A group of girls were out in the paddock during the lunch break and a couple of girls were mounting up on the horses bareback. Peer pressure or just pure desire to be on the back of my handsome steed led me to hop up on Meeko and ride him around the paddock; though the ride lasted under a minute. He trotted a bit and then I dismounted at the first call of alarm from other kids that the adults had caught us in the act…uh-oh. I don’t regret it; even though we were not allowed to go ride the horses, for our safety I’m sure, it was still a thrill to ride my love!

The other time was right after a lesson on BC, my favorite chestnut Thoroughbred lesson horse from my later riding years as a kid (I think mainly late middle school early high). When BC was all groomed down my instructor let me hop up and ride him as she led him to the pasture. BC was 16 hands, maybe a bit shorter; not a really tall height for a Thoroughbred so it was easy to get boosted up onto his red back. The ride was short and sweet and slippery if I recall.

This past Sunday I decided to try Willy out bareback. I was pretty tired from spending a week for business in Atlanta, GA and I had not seen Willy for 14 days so I wanted to have a nice relaxing ride with him and not work too hard. I missed not seeing him the last Sunday so it was good to see his sweet little face again. I groomed him up in the indoor ring and bridled him. He sort of looked at me like I was forgetting something as I led him off to the mounting block. I stepped up on the block and swung my leg over his back and kind of scrambled around to get in the right position, yeah this was easier when I was a kid! Then I walked him around the ring doing circles and figure eights while concentrating on the movement of my seat. I could definitely feel his backbone along with his muscles as he swayed front to back and side to side. Honestly, I don’t think bareback is the most comfortable way to ride. I see a lot of people using a bareback pad or a blanket to sit on but then to me, that’s not bareback so why bother; just put on a saddle. We lazily walked about the ring for a bit before I dismounted and fetched the saddle to get some serious work done.
Sleepy Willy

My main goal was to keep him trotting continuously in the ring. He doesn’t have a problem on the “trail” but going in circles he trots for a bit and then wants to quit. I get a pretty big work out trying to squeeze him back into the trot so I brought my old faithful crop with me to use as a reminder. Just having a crop in the hand often times is enough with most horses but the occasional tap after Willy ignored my legs also did the trick. I was tired and I’m sure Willy wanted back to his hay so I groomed him down and brought him back to his pen. Until next week my little bay friend!

No comments: