So this week I decided to ride bareback again. It’s been a while and I always find it fun, while testing my skill as a rider. It’s not always easy to keep a steady seat when you don’t have a saddle. I started off with a big win – I got on Luc without anyone holding him. I was a tad bit nervous since he does sometimes take a few steps when I get on. Thankfully for me, I was already fully situated on him before he decided to mosey off.
I should take a minute to clarify that I got on using the picnic table, my favourite mounting block of all time! It’s high enough that all I have to do is step over Luc to get on. As much as I’d love to be able to mount from the ground bareback, I just don’t see it in the cards. I tried a few times this time, and really ended up just bouncing off Luc’s side. Thankfully he’s a pretty tolerant horse!
Once I was safely on, I walked over to the sand ring and got down to work. Or tried to! Luc was less than interested in doing anything besides hanging out in the middle. I walked and trotted and then decided to try the canter again. The last time I rode bareback was the first time I’d cantered him without a saddle, so it was still a little new and nerve-wracking for me.
Luc decided he didn’t want to cooperate. Instead of picking up the canter like a good horse, he decided to give me his big, bone-rattling trot. It was tough to keep myself on and not bounce on his back. I kicked him up into the canter and we managed a few strides before he broke to trot. I attempted to get a nice canter several times in each direction, but in the end had to be happy with my few steps. At least I’d stayed on!
Despite the fact he wasn’t listening so well when it came to cantering, I decided it was a good idea to maybe just pop him over the little x-rail that was setup. I haven’t jumped bareback in ages, and even when I did it was never very often. I trotted him down to the fence and he immediately perked up. He happily took me down to the fence and we popped over it.
My arm position was terrible, I needed to release more with my hands, but I held my body position well enough not to come down too hard on his back. I turned around and we jumped it the other direction. This time I was able to give a much better release, so I decided to call it quits.
But not before I had a little more fun and pushed my boundaries even further. You see I have recently had this idea that perhaps I’d enjoy vaulting, also sometimes known as voltige. It’s kind of like acrobatics on horseback, and looks incredibly impressive. And hard. Especially for a very out-of-shape 30-something who is still getting back into riding.
I took things slowly, and started by laying on Luc. Then I progressed to kneeling on all fours. Then I was able to lift one arm, and then one leg (not at the same time – not coordinated enough for that yet!). Finally I was able to kneel on just my knees with both arms out. It felt great. Especially since Luc gave me tons of nickers. Unfortunately he also turned around to see what I was doing on a regular basis, which made things a little more difficult, what with all that shifting and moving on his part.
For all of about a split second I thought about actually trying to stand completely up, something I’ve never done on any horse before. Luc put a swift end to that thought. Before I could even make a move to attempt it, he started walking off. Apparently he’d had enough of standing around patiently. I was able to get out of the kneeling position in time to not completely bail off the side when he started moving, and I called it a day.
It was fun to pretend that maybe one day I could try vaulting for real, but first I think I need to get into a little better shape – otherwise I don’t think they’ll ever let me progress past the barrel dummy horse!