Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Riding Lessons Continue--Bareback!

So a couple weeks ago, when Thomas didn't feel up to going to his riding lesson, (due in part, I'm pretty sure, to exhaustion from jumping on the trampoline!), I went in his place. I usually take a lesson just once every 4-6 weeks, whereas the kids go weekly.

Well this week, the instructor, Patty, had said the kids might try riding bareback, so guess what? Emily and I rode bareback. :) I have to say that first of all, on a cold, wintery day, a horse is much warmer than a cold leather saddle! We rode Diamond, whom none of us had ridden before. He is a pony, but only by a smidge, so I'm going to refer to him as a horse. He's got a large body, huge head and short legs--I can't remember what he is a mix of, but he's adorable and has a great personality.


Pic: Diamond


The first thing we did was learn to direct Diamond in the riding circle. He is only allowed the perimeter of the circle. We stay somewhat in the center and "tell" him what to do with the rope. He had no lead on so it was all rather different from what we'd done before. I thought it was pretty cool that simply by spinning the rope we could tell him: to move, how fast, when to turn around, and when to stop.

Then once we were done using the rope, we just dropped it on the ground and could approach the horse. Just by standing at his head, we were able to lead him around the circle, make him turn, and stop--we didn't have to say anything and he followed--we'd already established who was the boss and giving the directions. It was very cool!

So the next part was mounting from a block (actually just a plastic step-stool, easy to move around) without stirrups to put your feet in. We had two choices: hop up facing the horse and rest our belly on him and then swing a leg over, or just swing our leg and jump up onto the horse at the same time, and lightly, so we wouldn't hurt his back. I tried the second method and Emily tried the first. We both did great. :) It helped that Diamond wasn't moving. LOL

Patty had put the lead on Diamond before I mounted (I went first--pick me, pick me!), and then had control of him the whole time we were riding. For each of us, she had us stick our arms straight out from our sides and make large circles with them while the horse was walking. Then we dropped our arms and swung them like toy soldiers or a pendulum, to feel the rhythm of the horse moving and to show us we don't use our upper bodies, but that our hips and legs had to move with the horse. She even had us close our eyes, which was rather unnerving for me.

We got to trot bareback also, and while I'm sure the instructor helped, we were supposed to signal to the horse with our body language and a click that we wanted to trot. Without the saddle there is no posting, so you're always sitting on the horse.

Pic: Ivan (the grey) and a couple friends

The same for telling him to stop--body language. Think "stop," head up, breathe out. Body position is everything. Emily does great with all these commands, and the instructor says she's a great technical rider. Thomas is very much a rider who makes a connection with the horse, more "feeling" his way, I suppose. I don't know what kind of rider I am, except that when I'm learning a new thing, I need to hear how to do it, see it being done, and understand why that's how we do it!

I'm not sure about Emily, but for me, the most challenging part was standing up on the horse! First I had to spin around 360 degrees on his back while sitting--not fast, just move one leg, turn, move the other leg, etc. Sitting facing the back end of the horse and moving was strange. :) But then Patty held my hand for balance and had me stand up on the horse's back. Wow is that high up there! And if he'd moved I'm sure I'd have fallen, or at least landed on him badly. I only stayed up less than a minute (Emily did all this in a previous lesson on Cinnamon, a shorter pony). Then Patty asks, to make the point, which way do I feel more comfortable, standing on the horse's back or sitting on it? Hmmm, let me think on that one!

That was it for our lesson. I really wish someone had been there taking picture of the two of us! I felt much more at ease on Diamond, without a saddle, than I have on Ivan, with either the Western or English saddles. Of course, that was just one lesson, and we didn't do anything tricky, but it was exhilarating!

Patty asked us, when we used to imagine ourselves riding a horse when we were young (or in Emily's case, up till she started the lessons!), how did we picture it? On a saddle with all the tack, or bareback on the beach or riding a trail? To be honest, I'm not sure how I imagined it--probably depended on what book I was reading at the time and how the main characters were riding. ;) I never had a strong urge to learn to ride when I was young. But I always wished I was able to. Either way, riding bareback was a lot of fun, and I look forward to having more lessons soon!

Last week, Thomas and Emily both rode bareback. I was very excited for Thomas to experience that, especially given the kind of rider he is. And he'd been a bit wary of riding the larger ponies in the past. But he loved it, of course! And said it was warmer than riding with a saddle.


Pic: Thomas and Diamond :)


Stumble Upon Toolbar

5 comments:

zoe krylova said...

hi silvia,

would you mind sharing info on where you all take riding lessons? i think tashi might enjoy lessons, and i'd love to give it a try someday. the horses of earlysville are enticing us!

Beachbum said...

I loved riding bareback, too! So glad you were able to do it.

My Sis was so in tune with her horse she could have him go anywhere but never use anything but her legs and posture. It was amazing to see. I never was able to with my pony, but always tried to relax enough to do it.

Oh, and I always saw myself riding bareback, too. That was truly amazing to think about. Thanks for taking me back a few (many) years!

Silvia said...

Sure! The instructor is Patty -Swygert. Her number is 973-3229. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you. :)

piscesgrrl said...

Wow - yay Emily!

ALISON said...

I've always wanted to try riding bareback. It sounds like a very neat experience! When I did take riding lessons, my favorite thing was to take my feet out of the stirrups - somehow that seemed to make if feel easier to me rather than harder!