Shiny pony!


l realised it’s a long time since I posted any photos. As usual this was because I didn’t take any. But when I saw how beautiful he is in his new summer coat I got the camera-phone out and grabbed a couple of pictures before l tacked up.

The other thing I have to share is that during our cool down after this morning’s schooling session it occurred to me that it might be a reasonable time to try taking the saddle off and having a little walk around without it. In an ideal world my first ever bareback experience would be with an instructor and a lead rope, but the business insurance for the lessons/instructors means there can be no bareback riding in a lesson, so that was out*. On the other hand I had a tired horse (so he’d be happy to walk slowly) and an empty indoor school (so no one else to worry about and minimal distractions/spook triggers). I decided to have a go.

I took the saddle off and led him to the mounting block. Was getting on going to be manageable? It was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I tend to forget that at 15.1 he’s actually quite short, so from the mounting block l could just get on as usual by throwing my right leg straight over despite not having a stirrup to use. I landed a little off centre and a little far back and he started walking off immediately but I was able to fidget myself into place OK.

Having survived mounting I realised I was actually on a horse bareback! It felt a bit precarious and I wondered what would happen when we came to a corner. Neither of us were very relaxed – both finding it strange. He moved very carefully, as if I were an overfull glass of water he needed to carry without spilling. That suited me fine! The corners came and went and they were fine too. I was very conscious of the noises from outside the school. A lawnmower started up close by. We were both aware of it but it did not cause problems and we continued concentrating on moving in balance together. I was surprised how comfortable it was, but then he is well padded and not high withered. We only did a couple of laps of the school on each rein. I might have gone on a little longer but I heard hooves outside and thought we were about to have company. I didn’t fancy being on bareback when the doors opened and a horse and rider joined us because it would distract us one way or another, so l hopped off. (Actually the hooves turned out to be a horse being loaded onto a lorry parked just outside, but by the time I realised that I was off already.)

It was an intimate feeling, both physically and mentally. I was aware of his skin, fat, muscle and bone each with their own way of moving beneath me. We were both conscious of my balance with a fiercer focus than usual.

I’m very glad I tried it and I feel it went well. I will do it again but only rarely. I felt I might be causing him discomfort because my weight would be much less evenly distributed over his back than with a saddle.

I don’t know if I’ll ever want to trot bareback but it would be out of the question for now – I can’t sit well in a saddle so it would be hazardous for both of us to try that any time soon. The next target is to sit the trot well enough in a saddle to be able to canter without stirrups. At present if l take my stirrups away we do OK at a very slow trot but he still finds canter transitions hard and cannot canter easily from anything but a fast trot. So I increase the trot speed towards something he can canter from and lose my balance which again means he can’t canter because my balance is upsetting his. It’s a work in progress. When the day comes that I can easily manage all three gaits without stirrups then I might consider trotting bareback!

Anyway, I can now say that I have ridden my horse bareback, and I’m proud of that.


* While it was a riding school we were not allowed to bareback on the premises at any time. Now we can, at our own risk, at any time except lessons.

5 thoughts on “Shiny pony!

  1. The Dancing Rider says:

    Isn’t he though?! Lovely boy! He looks very shiny , and happy, in this photo.My lease horse still looks semi-yak.

    Very cool on the bareback. I don’t blame you for not wanting company. Safe move to hop off at that point. Good for you for riding bareback.

    I know what you mean, so well, about one’s balance upsetting the horse’s balance. Mine is so bad most of the time!

    Was going to do my own entry re our sitting trot with no stirrups and reins. Right now I can’t imagine cantering without reins or stirrups. My trainer is likely to spring that on me, too, at some point.

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      A lot of my fast trotting without stirrups turns into no reins because I need to drop the reins to grab the saddle!

      • The Dancing Rider says:

        I find it VERY disconcerting. The trotting and “just balancing”. Right. Maybe in another lifetime!

  2. Elinor says:

    You are so sweet! He looks very shiny indeed 🙂 Lunge lessons when cantering without stirrups can be awesome. You might find he’s very comfortable that way! Better than trot without stirrups sometimes :0 Let us know how it goes!

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      I did try some lunge lessons on him a while ago … but he found them very hard. As he has a very fast canter (because he can’t balance) and gets faster when he worries about it (all the time) and leans like a motorbike the cantering was pretty terrifying. Also because he struggles he ends up putting corners in the circle which makes it a lot more difficult for the rider to concentrate on herself!

      At some point I do want to go back and try again, but I want to get to the point where he can canter circles off the lunge with less speed and more relaxation before we go there!

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