Saturday, October 30, 2010

Perfect Fall Day

Today was a beautiful fall day - temps in the high 60's but sunny and relatively still. We thought it would be a great day to head out to the barn, and we were right.

I decided to go bareback today. I'm not actually sure why I've been using a saddle so much lately. When we're in familiar territory, I really don't need it. Steen's panic attacks and explosions have diminished so much, they really only happen when we're far from his comfort zone.

So, we got the boys ready and hit the strip. Steen was actually a bit distracted at first, not really interested in giving to the neck-rein. His figure-eights were completely the wrong shape and when I asked for the trot he was super erratic. However, through repetition of a few patterns, he settled in. Eventually he was back to giving me a consistent jog.

In the meantime Brian was having a good ride on Bear. Two months into their partnership they're getting along pretty well. Bear is obviously stronger, and when Brian asked for a trot, moved into it with much more ease and relaxation than on their early rides.

After about 50 minutes, the four of us headed down the strip. On the way back up I asked Steen for a lope and he moved into one fluidly and maintained a strong, steady pace for a brief stretch. I then pulled him up to wait for Brian and Bear. We dismounted a few minutes later and Brian pointed out that was my first time loping outside bareback on Steen. And I must say it felt great.

After returning the boys to the pasture we took another side shot of Bear to keep track of his slow transformation. You can see the whole series here.

Steen has now completely overcome his old fear of cameras and mostly wants to smear up the lense with his nose these days.


  1. Ah, to lope bareback. A goal, but haven't got there yet. I just have the worst balance! I love to trot my son & husband's horses bareback - their backs are so suited for it. My horse has a pretty boney back. We will trot, but not as comfortable.

    The weather has been perfect, hasn't it?

  2. It took me years to feel confident enough to lope bareback (I started riding at 10 and loped bareback for the first time at 20.) My friend Erica was the one who convinced me to try the bareback lope, and I was actually shocked at how natural it felt. You spend enough hours in the saddle that I think you would be too. It turned out the only hurdle was my own fear.

    The main thing is to take a horse you trust to an area it is used to loping, grab a handful of mane (in case of sudden changes in direction), but otherwise just relax and let go. In many ways riding a lope bareback is easier than riding a trot bareback.

    So, I'm sure you'll get there sooner than you think! (And I can't wait to read the blog post about it. ;))

    And yes, this has been the most wonderful fall. Let's hope it the prelude to a mild winter.

  3. Now that Steen is over his fear of cameras, prepare for a difficult time getting anything but close up nose shots. At least with digital you can just delete the excessive ones. :)

    @Tammy: As for loping bareback, as Miyamoto Mushashi, the swordmaster, said, "if you want to learn to fight with two swords, take up a sword in each hand". In other words, if you want to learn to ride bareback, then start riding without a saddle. You don't have to start loping right away, just ride and build up the seat/balance/confidence you need.


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