Today I had an awesome ride that went nowhere in the direction I thought it would.
I went to the barn expecting to ride in a western saddle and ride without stirrups, in order to work on my balance/bareback riding.
I did that for a little while, with great success, until pony took off galloping across the arena...in her defense, I definitely squeezed when I lost balance. I am trying to get her to feel me better though, and understand what I want when I squeeze different ways, and understand the difference between 'oh shit I'm falling off' and 'ok lets have some speed'. Which is obviously tough for a speedy horse to grasp! So I don't expect her to get it, but this is why I'm doing stuff like loping with no stirrups rather than loping bareback! Its all about perspective haha.
After her spaz attack, I had a super tough time getting her back into a nice easy lope, and when we finally achieved that, she was able to stop and walk around! But after a few minutes of that, I thought that actually, it would be fun to switch her to english and cool her off that way.
So I switched her gear to english gear and went back out there. My trainer was giving another lesson at the time, and set up some trot poles and a (I have no idea what the name for it is) but its two x's with a pole attached, so you can make it ground level, about 6 inches, or about a foot high.
It was at the ground level, and I was working on trotting and walking around and over them in two point. She was doing fine on all of those things, and then while trotting around the other side of the arena, my trainer turned the x pole over, so it was about 6 inches high. Me and pony both realized this around the same time, as we were going over it. She tripped on it, and started to go down, and caught herself, then started to go down again, and caught herself, and then stumbled again. It was ridiculous! and I rode the entire thing!
There was also a cowboy in the arena, and he came over and said I deserved a cowgirl high five for staying on that one. My trainer said she is continually amazed with how well I handle falling off, or having a horse trip.
Here are just a few examples of why she feels that way......
1) One of her lesson horses, kadin, was my favorite horse in the world. However, he had kinda wonky feet and it took a while to get him into shape and his feet in good condition. In that time, he tripped a bit. I was one of the riders that worked with him the most/asked the most of him. At a gymkhana, we did barrels at a nice lope, and on the way home I asked for more speed, which resulted in him tripping at the finish line and me having a nice little fall. It was honestly hilarious though, I have it on video. I will have to try and find that to post.
2) A few weeks after that, we were riding in an arena that we didn't usually ride in, and it had thicker sand than the other ones. He tripped, badly, ended up rolled over on his side, however, somehow I had already landed a few feet away from him, on my side with nothing wrong other than sand in my pants.
3) We went on a trail ride and went through a gate, and I tried to get Kadin to hold the gate for the people behind us. However, by the time we got through it, Kadin was dead set on seeing his friends up ahead, and I was deadset on holding the damn gate! Since I had one hand on the gate and he was walking straight ahead, I tried using my leg to guide him, but I ended up being fully stretched, midair, with only one foot in a stirrup, still holding onto the gate and holding onto the rein on the side that was useless to me. Finally I had to let go of the gate and I jumped down onto my feet. The entire trail ride party kind of sat there in shock for a minute, I guess it looked like it was going to be a big dramatic fall.
4) She's seen me fall off bareback numerous times, but its always a step off, land on my feet type of a thing.
5) I used to ride a horse named oreo, one day I went into the pasture to say hi to her. She was eating and content, and I didn't have a halter with me or anything. So I jumped on her, bareback, because I had done that a few times before and she usually just walked around with me on her back and kept eating. However, apparently I left the gate unlatched, because the wind blew it open, and as soon as I knew it she was galloping across the pasture towards the gate with me on her back. So I swung a leg over, landed on my feet, and started running after her!!
And it just makes me wonder, you know? Because I can't lope bareback to save my life, but when a horse is tripping, falling, or I am falling I have never even been close to hurting myself. And what it is, is that after so many years of gymnastics training, where we are trained to just let ourselves fall, if you stick out an arm you'll break it, if you stick out a leg you'll break it, so obviously your body as a whole should break your fall. I just wish I had that instinct for riding bareback!