Early Days

Bareback in a halter

In a heretofore unattempted feat, I have ridden Spirit bareback in a halter – walk, trot, and canter. It was successful – ie, I didn’t fall off and I think Spirit had a good time. I had turned her out while I was cleaning up and putting away show gear, then decided I was too lazy to do a “real” ride. I knew that I’d be off balance and I didn’t want to lean on her mouth for support, so I decided to ride with a halter and lead instead of bridle. I was smart enough to tie a polo wrap around her neck though – it did come in handy!

We started off walking. Nice and easy. Went over some ground poles and told her what a good girl she was. I’d only ridden her this way taking her from her stall to the tie racks, so I wanted to make sure she was relaxed and comfortable. We moved up into a slow jog of a trot. Instantly it became a canter. I blame the fact that I was finding my seat plus Spirit’s willful interpretation of my jostling around. The canter was lovely and soft and uphill and slow (and comfortable), so I figured “Eh, we’ll do trot later”. We cantered around and around. Spirit was amenable to neck-reigning, which made the ride much more relaxed. Finally we did some trot work and that is where the polo wrap came in. Posting without a saddle is a great workout no matter how often you ride! I have a feeling that the people at the barn maybe thought I was crazy. Well, okay, I did have one beer before I rode. ;)

We have gotten another lesson in – this time jumping. Spirit was fantastic. She just launched herself over every jump, came back to me nicely as soon as I asked, move forward when I told her to – just excellent. We even set up a faux ditch jump: 2 ground poles with a floor mat in between. We make it more challenging by changing the color of the mat partway through the ride. Another intriguing element is that our trainer had us trot a jump in the middle of our course – that was so difficult! I wouldn’t have expected it to be, but taking Spirit down to a trot without letting her break to canter for the jump was actually a challenge. I’m gonna work on that.

This weekend we’ve signed up for a small hunter jumper show fairly close to home. I view it as a good schooling opportunity to get exposure to colorful jumps. The idea is that I will get practice riding more supportively so that we go over the new jumps first time presented.

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