This week was a scorcher. It was hot, humid and incredibly sticky. Thinking I was smart enough to beat the heat, I headed to the barn early this week, but the sun still made it there before me. Even before the clock struck 9:00 a.m., the temperature had already climbed to above 30°C with a heavy-handed dose of humidity, making the air thick and almost slimy feeling. I knew it was going to be a short ride when I pulled Luc out of the field and he was already sweaty. Of course, I was already sweaty at that point too, my skin-tight breeches clinging impossibly closer to my thighs. It was a toss up which one of us was more miserable.
Determined not to let the weather get the best of me, I decided to it was time to go commando – as in, no saddle. I contemplated pulling on my shorts and running shoes and rocking the look I use to have when I was sixteen and it was summer and all I was planning on doing that day was trail riding my horse, but decided against it. That was probably for the best. My 30-year-old legs barely see the sun these days, and even though it’s been a long while since I’ve ridden bareback, I still have vivid memories of the joys of the sweaty bum look one gets after riding sans saddle, not to mention the copious amounts of dirt and hair that find themselves in places they have no business being in.
After giving Luc a thorough brushing it was time to mount up. I’m not afraid to admit that I was more than a little apprehensive. After all, I still struggle to get on even with the help of a saddle. How in Hades was I ever going to be able to get on without one? Luckily inspiration struck as I was walking out to the sand ring. There was a lovely, sturdy looking picnic table not far from the ring, and eyeballing it from a distance it appeared to be the perfect height. I casually walked Luc over, lined him up and climbed on up to the top of that table. I thought about laying over his back and wiggling into position, but one, I wasn’t sure I would even be able to wiggle myself to a sitting position, and two, I was pretty sure once Luc realized I was at a disadvantage he would go straight for the grass beneath his feet.
Taking a deep breath I decided the only way for me to get on was to mount as if there was a stirrup there and essentially throw my leg over Luc’s back and hope for the best. Surprisingly, it was actually pretty easy to get on. I was feeling incredibly good about myself for making it on when Luc decided it was time to lumber forward. I’m not really sure what gait he was in. It certainly didn’t feel like any walk I had ever experienced. Those first few steps I was convinced I was heading straight toward the ground. I even called out to my sister/ trusty cameraperson to let her know if she didn’t get a shot of me bareback on Luc within the next 30 seconds she likely wouldn’t be getting one. Thankfully Luc made the transition into an actual walk and I was able to find my seat.
We sauntered over to the sand ring and ended up having a great, albeit short, ride. I walked for a while to get my balance and make sure I wasn’t about to slide off at any second and then picked up a trot. All that no stirrups work I have been doing really paid off. I felt surprisingly secure. I trotted in both directions but ultimately decided it was too soon for me to canter bareback. Luc’s transitions are not the smoothest, and while I might have had a chance of staying on to get into the canter, I’m fairly confident there was no way we weren’t parting ways during the downward transition, and I’m just not ready to write that blog yet.
After wrapping up my ride I figured the hardest part was over. After all, I had stayed in sync with Luc for the entire time (those first few steps don’t really count). I went to go gracefully slide down Luc’s side and discovered dismounting was a lot harder than I remember. I got my leg about halfway over Luc’s back and got stuck. Like really stuck. He was sweaty, I was sweatier and it made for a very sticky combination. After spending several seconds wriggling myself free I managed to slide the rest of the way down and was greeted by Luc nudging me with his head as if to say ‘what took you so long?’. I did get nickers though, so he can’t have been too peeved about it.
All in all I’m calling the ride a success. I stayed on. Luc seemed happy. I managed to get off. Luc still seemed happy. And as a huge bonus, because I made the wise decision to wear my breeches, I only had sweaty bum to contend with – which was quickly remedied by changing pants. No horsehair in inappropriate places for me, hurray!