When Bareback Feels Like Riding a Couch

A cold but lovely fall evening
A cold but lovely fall evening

Tonight I rode Knightwind and since it was one of the first really chilly nights we’ve had, I decided to ride bareback. And I also decided to wear the winter breeches that I got for my birthday. To be fair, I was being pretty wimpy; it was about 40 degrees tonight. Here in Wisconsin, that’s nothing. It’s not even “real” cold. I shudder when I think what is coming. Give it two or three months and that 40 degree night is going to feel like a sauna.

Kerrits Power Stretch Winter Tights; I have these in black

But not yet. Right now it still feels cold and I felt like being cozy and warm. Thus, bareback and winter breeches.I have to give a shoutout to my Kerrits Power Stretch Winter Tights. They’re fuzzy and warm on the inside, but dirt brushes right off on the outside. I love them. I would like to wear them around my house on the weekends, they’re that comfortable. In addition to my ultra-snuggly winter breeches, I rode Knightwind with a bareback pad (listen, I wasn’t about to take my brand new breeches for a spin on a shaggy, dust-encrusted horse, okay?). Add to that the fact that Knightwind’s physique is similar to a fuzzy barrel, and the combined effect was something like riding around on a couch. It was so comfortable, and just what I needed tonight.

Unlike sitting on a couch, though, I was actually riding bareback for a reason (and no, the reason is not that I was lazy and cold). I wanted to get the saddle out of the way so I could really focus on feeling Knightwind’s feet with my seat. I tried to relax my back and hips so that I could just follow her movement and feel when where each foot was at any given time. This exercise is harder than it sounds…and it doesn’t sound easy, does it? I did make some good progress feeling the steps and I will be applying that to my next ride back in the saddle. I think it will be helpful.

There were a few shining moments during my ride when I felt really well-connected to Knightwind and she was right there with me. She had some great stop-walk transitions that were prompt and relaxed. There was a trot-walk transition that I asked for just by feeling for the walk in my body. The change in me brought about the change in her gait right away. It was really cool, and ultimately what we’ve been working toward in our lessons with Mr. K.

We had some trouble with stopping, however. When I ask for a stop, Knightwind sort of peters out instead of actually stopping. To work on this issue, I practiced with a pattern: 6 steps, stop. 6 steps, stop. 6 steps, stop. And so on. Horses live in patterns and habits, and using that tendency to the rider’s advantage advantage is a great tool. And guess what? It worked. By the end of my ride, she was stopping much better – quiet, prompt and soft, with very little rein needed.

In Other News
Remember when I said that the show season is officially over? I would like to formally retract that statement. We have added one last schooling show to the schedule. Therefore, I would like to request that Mother Nature provides a beautiful, sunny day on November 3rd, with temperatures at or above 60 degrees. Great, thanks.

And even if Mother Nature doesn’t comply (how could she not when I asked so nicely?), it’ll be a really fun show. I’m glad there’s one last hurrah this fall!

And Lastly…

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 10.00.26 PMAs promised, I have gotten a whole bunch of riding books from the library! I have begun reading Riding and Schooling Horses, by Harry Chamberlin, as it is available online. I didn’t anticipate that it would be quite so challenging to read the book online. I have a Kindle that I use all the time, but there is something about reading a PDF version on a computer screen that’s tough and slow. It just makes me that much more excited to delve into the hard copies from the library and share what I learn!

These are the books I have from the library currently:

  • The Development of Modern Riding, Vladimir Littauer (1991)
  • Learning to Ride, Hunt and Show, Gordon Wright (1966)
  • The Riding Instructor’s Manual, Gordon Wright (1975)
  • Riding Simplified, Margaret Cabell Self (1948)

Except for The Development of Modern Riding, they’re all slim volumes. Learning to Ride, Hunt and Show is highly illustrated, too. Not only am I looking forward to reading these as a horse person, but as a bibliophile I have a strong appreciation for these old classics. They’re just plain cool books.

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3 thoughts on “When Bareback Feels Like Riding a Couch

  1. Lisa, your “stories” transport me. It’s as if I’m right there with you, asking for six steps, and a stop. And the photos – seriously! You should put some of them in frames and surround yourself with them at home. Even the one of the books is cool! Keep riding, keep writing, and keep sharing. It just may be what gets the rest of us through the winter.

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