My students inspire me all the time. Last week, Abby happily announced to me that she rode Calypso bareback and even cantered on her, and it "wasn't even that bad!" This is music to my ears, since Abby specifically came to me looking to gain confidence and balance at the canter. I love to see you guys smashing your goals with big smiles on your faces. And it made me think...when was the last time I hopped on MY horse bareback??? So I thought I'd give it a go to test my seat and balance. Poor Clay, I am always getting "fun" ideas like this!
At first I was all over the place. It took a bit to settle into the rhythm, but after a few minutes it started to click, and then it started to be kind of magical. We had some of our best collected canter ever...dare I say we even did very large canter pirouettes both directions (AKA very small and collected circles). Clay stayed in the outside rein more steadily than usual, and I was able to really feel his back, could tell when he was dropping away on one side or the other or when there was tension. I also discovered a "clicking" sensation in his left shoulder when cantering to the left that I was previously unaware of. Gotta get that sorted out. It's amazing how much a saddle–even a good one–muffles these things.
I rode that way for our whole ride, and was pleasantly surprised that I did not feel nor look nearly as much like a sack of potatoes as I had expected. The medium gaits were harder to stay with but I rode those too. And, it was fun (jury's still out on whether or not CLAY agrees, but he ate his weight in treats afterwards, so he will live.)
Moral of the story...ride bareback occasionally. (Thanks for the reminder, Abby!)