After a month of rides without stirrups, I thought I’d try something a little different this week – riding without hands. Inspired by all the amazing freestyle videos floating around on the internet, I thought ‘Luc and I can do that.’ Well, as it turns out, not so much.
Smart enough not to just jump straight to bareback without a bridle, I tacked Luc up as normal, but then tied my reins in a knot before heading out onto the rail to go to work. Thank goodness the gate was closed in the sand ring (it was nice out so wasn’t going to pass on an outdoor ride). Steering wasn’t engaged, it would seem. Despite my best efforts, Luc dictated where we headed, which, more often than not, was right into the middle to stand next to his owner, my sister Jen.
Admittedly, I did make it slightly more difficult on myself by deciding to work on my two-point in tandem with our freestyle efforts. My leg position leaves a lot to be desired! It was too far back, and my back was too hollow. I certainly won’t be winning any equitation finals in the near future.
Despite my wobbly leg and lack of steering, I was pleasantly surprised by how willing Luc was to go forward. When I asked for a trot we got nice, forward movement, with him stretching down beautifully through his neck and back.
He happily trotted down the long sides of the ring (he LOVED heading home), but I did have to cheat a little bit and use one hand on the reins to turn the corners. We were even successful in the canter, making it all the way around the ring with at least a semblance of control.
And once around the ring in each direction was about all my legs could handle. It’s a toss-up for me which made my muscles scream more – no stirrups for an entire ride, or two-point for an entire ride. I think it’s going to need to be a long winter of strength training and conditioning for me.
Maybe I’ll eventually make it to a place where I can do no stirrups in two-point for an entire ride. Ha! That’s about as likely as Luc and I getting to the point where we can jump an entire course without any tack.
But who knows. Maybe with a little (okay, more like A LOT) of effort, that could actually become reality. Here’s to aiming high!