Sunday, November 09, 2008

Progress

In the past eight days I have gone out to the stable to ride on 5 of them. That is a personal record for me. In those five rides I struggled in the outdoor arena through my first lope, had my first solo loping session on Tuesday, refined my lope a little more with the help of Robin on Friday night and Saturday morning, and then had my first real (although short) bareback ride today.

I had experienced some very short bareback riding on two other occasions. On one of our visits to Tucson I climbed up on Jak, and Robin led me around the property a bit. It was weird. I was surprised by how much movement of the horse's body I could feel through my legs. At that time I was not very comfortable on horses even in the saddle, so I did not ride for very long.

My second bareback experience was with Steen. My parents had come to visit, and Robin was helping my mother learn to ride. At the end of the first lesson, I got on Steen and walked around in a circle while Robin had Steen on a longe line. It was nice to feel a different horse, and one that I knew better from many weeks of riding.

But Steen is a bony guy. And I know, because I am a bony guy, too. When Robin and I were riding bareback today she rode first and would occasionally yell out pointers as they occured to her. When she would pass by the end of the arena that I sat at she would say things like, "lean back far on your butt; this will help you keep your balance."

This made sense when I was on the ground. My other brief bareback rides left me worried about leaning too far into Steen's withers and injuring the more sensitive parts of my male physique. But when I got on Steen, I realized that I could not lean forwards, for obvious reasons, or backwards, as his spine would dig into my tail bone.

Nevertheless, I continued to walk around on Steen and work on my seat. As he often does, Steen decided to sporadically jump into a trot in one of the turns. I easily reined him in, but the few seconds of trot felt OK. And Robin said I looked stable through the changes. So we did a little bit more trotting and it was OK. Fun even. But only for a few minutes, as my comfort area on him was very, very small.

Thankfully we have a bareback pad coming soon. It should provide just enough cushion to let me ride bareback comfortably. Because now that I can lope somewhat comfortably, I really want to do a bareback lope. Robin makes it look so easy, but I know looks can be deceiving. So I have a lot of work ahead of me.

2 comments:

  1. Ah bareback, my favorite way to ride. Personally, I'm not a fan of the bareback pad, they feel kinda slippery to me and I feel less secure with the pad than without one. Some people love them tho, so to each their own.

    My basic advice (and Robin may have told you this already) is keep your butt tight. Not clenched, but tight. This will help protect your tailbone from the horse's spine, and also protect the horse from your bony butt.

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  2. I think I was doing a little bit of the tight butt thing already. It is hard to think of everything while you're riding (or, while I'm riding), but in my head I was flexed and raising myself a little bit off his spine.

    And Robin, too, was very wary of the slippery bareback pad. We ordered one that reportedly has a very grippy no-slip base. It got some good reviews, but we'll have to see what it's like when it comes.

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