Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mac has a little sister!

That's what I'm telling him anyway - I'm telling him she is NOT a girlfriend, but a little sister!

I bought myself a pony. An actual pony, not a term-of-endearment pony. "Annwylid D'Lite" is a registered 1/2 Welsh Cob pony (she's actually 3/4 Cob x 1/4 Morgan) by Pro A Resolute out of Cariad Cosmopolitan (1/2 Welsh x 1/2 Morgan). Oh, and she's a two-year-old filly!

I can't believe I bought sight-unseen. I have a friend who just did the same thing, so I was feeling a bit bold and inspired by her adventure. I did see lots of videos and photos of "Dee Dee" and talked to the seller at length, so it isn't like I went in blind. She had a vet check on Friday and is coming home from Arizona hopefully next weekend.

Here she is in her loveliness.

I'm going to start a blog for her so I can track our progress as I've done for Mac. It is fun to look back and see how far we've come!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Bareback and bridleless!

Since I ride at home alone and don't have anyone to really watch (as I used to do in my younger days - I would spend all day at the barn watching people ride), I sat down with a cup of coffee and found some inspiring YouTube videos this morning. Even though I've got some tendonitis in my elbow that I should be resting, I decided a week and a half off from riding was enough and so I went for a ride.

Some of the videos I was watching were of people doing liberty work and also riding bareback and bridleless. Since I rode with a neck rope a couple times before (but not necessarily bridleless) and I've ridden bareback on the trails many times before, I decided to combine the two and ride sans saddle and bridle!

We started with some liberty work which I'm sure would have been better had I a round pen, but Mac sort of cuts the arena in half on his own. I let him have some free WTC in each direction, then decided I might as well hop on! I put the neck rope on but figured I'd leave the bridle off and if I thought I'd need it then I could put it on.

At first I just worked on separating my leg aids - a leg at the shoulder means move the shoulder, a leg back behind the girth area means move the butt, a leg in the center means move the ribcage. We did some small circles and serpentines, some backing, some rollbacks, some TOF and TOH. Then we moved it up to the trot and I tried to do 10 steps walk, 10 steps trot - as we went along we improved as I realized that I needed to prepare a couple steps ahead of time (duh) so that I'd get the transition on the 10th step. This is of course not a new realization, but sometimes I get so focused on one thing that other things fly out my ears.

Once we got sharp with the transitions, I figured why not canter? So we did. And Mac was great! He really gives me such a good place to sit, and he's so comfortable and steady in his tempo that it is easy to stay balanced on him. We did a couple laps, came down to the trot and walk, then back to the canter again. It's always a crapshoot if there are deer lurking in the pine trees that he can't see but hear and that might come running down the hill at any moment, but it wasn't a problem. We did the canter in both directions and I was pleased enough that I called it a day.

Riding like this, though, makes me feel like tack really gets in the way. Bareback I have so much more ease of movement in my legs to direct his body, the communication of energy for forward is so subtle, as are whole body cues. Of course it helps that Mac has a lovely back to sit on and has easy gaits to ride.

I think I'll probably try to do this once a week and see how we can improve. It is fun to just play with your horse and come up with new things to try after being inspired by watching other people!