Last week, when I shared that we were really focusing on the sitting trot, The Fabled Christmas Pony suggested I ride Speedy bareback - if he'd let me. I ride Speedy bareback now and then, mostly when we just want to tool around without any real focus. I thought about it though and realized that now that I have a different feel for the sitting trot, it might be worthwhile to try it out bareback.
As I got more and more balanced, I could coax him into a trot, but it was always just a jog. I always appreciated this about him though as I knew he was never going to bolt and dump me.
Both time I got on him bareback this week, we started with some suppling exercises at the walk, including stepping over a line of poles. After we were both warmed up, I asked for a trot. I followed Chemaine's image of tucking my seatbone and pulling my belly button to my spine. Thank you, Fabled Christmas Pony! I can't believe how much easier it was to sit his trot now that I have the motion.
Rather than just trot in a circle, I rode the ten-meter trot circles from First Level, Test 3. We repeated the exercise at least five times, stopping for a quick walk break each time. After working that exercise, Speedy started to offer some trot lengthenings on his own, something he normally does when I school in a saddle. The difference was that he never offers a bigger trot when I am bareback. I am certain that he felt more confident in my ability to stick with him and not unbalance him!
Chemaine had me use the canter as a way to loosen my hips by letting my legs swing (or pump) during the canter stride. I was thrilled with how easy it was to do bareback. To the right was much easier as Speedy is happy to balance on the left/outside rein. To the left was more of a challenge as he doesn't want to bend left. It took me a few tries to get him to let go of the left rein, but once he did, I was able to swing my legs to the rhythm of the canter without gripping.
I had the most fun riding him bareback this week. I laughed during the canter work and enjoyed the feeling of looseness that I was able to achieve. Speedy is truly an awesome boy to just go along with the program. I am lucky to have him.