Sunday, March 24, 2013

Work Frequency and Red Goes Bareback

I love riding bareback.  I only rode bareback until I was in my late teens - I did everything bareback, including riding on the trail, riding to town along the state highway, and riding in the 4th of July parade - those last two when I was about 10 years old,  bareback.  I didn't have a riding lesson until I was in college. Galloping, jumping, you name it, I did it bareback.  I think riding bareback is really helpful for a couple of things - balance, posture and seat - if you ride bareback a lot you really learn not to ever bounce, and hopefully become part of the horse.  Bareback does nothing for your legs - I suffered from floppy lower legs for a long time after taking up riding with saddles.

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to ride bareback.  My old gelding Noble, who died at age 30 in 2010, was one horse I often rode bareback - he wasn't always calm but was always responsive and obedient and you could count on him.  Since I stopped riding him when he was 27 or so, I haven't ridden much bareback, except a little bit on Dawn.  Red and I have done some bareback rides - Pie is too tall and too bony and I don't think he's ever been ridden without a saddle.

Part of my program with Red right now is to ride him 7 days a week - some of those rides aren't strenuous, but getting him out and moving is so important to keep his hocks working. I've noticed since I ride him every day he's a lot less sore starting out and his quality of trot is very good.  If I give him a day off, he stiffens up, even though he's in all day turnout - the condition of the pastures right now means he's not moving around a lot in turnout.  Dawn and Pie are on a 5 days a week riding schedule right now.

Today Red and I had a lovely bareback ride.  The wind was blowing, the arena doors were banging, but we just didn't care.  After our usual 15 minutes of vigorous walk warm up, we moved to trot.  (I've had three days in a row - not to jinx things - where Red has moved up into trot on the first ask without any balking, or bulging, or loss of connection - I've been trying to use just my energy to ask for trot without leg aids and that seems to make a big difference to him.)  We did lots of very nice trot work - maybe 15 minutes worth - and he was more even than he's been in both directions.  He has the perfect back for bareback - enough wither to have a "center" but a nice broad back to sit on.  His trot can get pretty elevated when he's moving well - I can feel the difference in the quality of his trot more easily bareback - but one benefit of having grown up riding bareback is that my seat is glued to the horse, even when the trot would otherwise be very boucy.

We had a lot of fun on our "light work" day!


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