Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sans saddle

I rode the little bay mare last night.


It has been quite some time since I've ridden bareback, at least since before Star died six years ago. When I was a kid all I ever did was ride bareback. Everywhere, every time. It was too much of a bother and a hassle to haul out the saddle and tack up and when I first got my pony, Blaze, I didn't have a saddle anyway so bareback was the only option. I remember when I felt more secure riding bareback than I ever did riding in the saddle. I'd like to find that feeling again.

During our half hour ride it quickly became painfully obvious that I really need to ride bareback more often because I've developed a nasty habit of depending on my stirrups way too much. Oh, I know, I can ditch the stirrups in the saddle but then I grip with my knees, an equally sinful habit.

Calypso has a pony trot. She's a whole lot like riding a pogo-stick without shocks... a tooth-rattler, that's for sure. I figured out pretty quickly that I HAVE to keep my hips loose, my knees relaxed and my abs engaged if I wanted to sit that trot bareback AT ALL. It's tougher work than you imagine, keeping things loose and relaxed and trying to stay with her stride without banging around on her back.

While I learned that I've been depending too much on my stirrups and not keeping my hips loose (which I knew but didn't realize how much I was holding), I also realized that I don't depend on my hands for balance at all, a very good thing in light of the other two nasty habits I have to break.

Today, I hurt. My hip joints ache and my abs are SORE. My inner thighs kinda feel a little bit like Jell-O. I think I'll keep riding that mare bareback for awhile. I'm not quite ready to get on Gabe bareback, not yet. But I'm looking forward to it as soon as I feel ready to give it a go!

Which brings me to another subject: Riding safely...alone. I've recently become a single mom living on the farm without any other adults around. So, I'm riding by myself. Well, I almost always ride by myself, but, there is no longer anyone inside the house aware that I'm out riding.

And I worry a bit. What if I get dumped and get hurt and no one realizes it for days? I always wear my helmet, but helmets don't prevent broken necks or broken backs or smashed faces.

How do those of you who ride alone (ie: no one at home to know you're heading out) frequently handle the safety issue? Do you call someone and say "Hey! I'm going riding. I'm planning to head out in X direction. If you don't hear from me in X amount of time, call someone cause I may be dead/hurt/maimed/lost?"

What do you do?


  1. It's good to let someone know that you're riding (and where if you're riding on the trail) and when to expect you back (or to hear from you). I also always carry a cell phone clipped to my belt in case I get dumped and need to call for help. That said, I ride alone a lot - otherwise I'd hardly get to ride at all!

    I've been riding a lot bareback recently - Dawn insists on it since I haven't got a saddle that fits her.

  2. Hi Jenn!
    Good subjects!!

    I have been really loving the bareback rides with the mare..and that feeling-ooou- I have thought to myself of that lovely feeling, and it is so cool that you wrote about it too. I thought I would feel insecure without the saddle. But, quite the opposite! The NEW pad is not slick...duplicating the "sweaty-stick" you'd get from being directly on the horse.I've been loving the rides!

    Very good to think ahead...wise, wise!
    Last year, when I began to ride alone more and more, I got fallen upon, coming up a steep and uneven trail.
    Wa mare was good enough to not trample me, as she jumped over me...but...she ran 3 miles home and I had to walk it...good thing I was alble to! Someone did see the mare speedily run by, with out the rider, and called some freinds to come look for me...they found me -breathless and determined to "Track the mare home". So I would not take the ride from them back!

    It made me THINK HARD about riding alone again so I made some rules for myself:

    1) Leave a note at stable with what direction(or trail name) you went and time you left.
    * for you, maybe calling a neighbor or freind, someone for accountability.

    2) I carry a cell phone(on body not horse)

    3) have a emergency list of info **ON THE HORSE** in case it becomse separted from me(as it runs wildly towards home) I have it clipped to the saddle-

    My name and # My barnowners # and address to where the horse lives-
    The vet#
    and My Husbands#

    I have thought to have some kind of- longer rope- lightly attached to I don't open my hands and let go as I fall, a natural response.I'm tired of loosing the horse and havng her become injured.
    I am not going to stop riding out alone,anytime soon! I adore that time with the mare and nature~

    I was wondering when you got your "Bartek" bareback saddle?
    I tried to find them again( when I started to look around for a bareback pad ) and it seems they may be no longer-
    Thanks Jenn,

  3. Full of admiration here! I'm not brave enough to ride Dixie bareback anywhere except an arena, and I have made convenient excuses to not do that for a year now.

    I ride alone most of the time. I usually remember to tell someone which general way I'm going, but I don't often have a real firm plan. I usually have the GPS strapped to the saddle, so I guess my rescuers could backtrack from that, and Dixie's halter has a dog tag with my number on it.

    I wear a helmet, and I wear bright orange most of the time. I just hope dirt bikers find me before the coyotes do ;)

  4. Did a bit of bareback riding myself this week. Happy about not balancing on reins - sad about very tight hips lol.

    I always ride alone except when I'm at my trainer's farm (every month or six weeks). It's stunning how much braver I am when I ride up there!

    At home I usually call my Dad and tell him when I'm planning to ride, and then call him with a report when I'm finished. Helmet and cell phone 100% of the time.

    I'm contemplating working my way back out on the trails again... we'll be taking baby steps on that front for sure :)

  5. Kac...attaching something to myself and the horse would probably make me more nervous than feel safer. I get nervous in a western saddle because I feel like I'm trapped up there in all that leather! I'm one of those who instinctively doesn't let go of the reins when I come off...advantages and disadvantages...I've been drug more than once because my hands refuse to drop the reins!
    I got the Baretek, hmmm...probably 8 years ago? Picked it up at a local tack shop. I didn't know they were no longer in business! I LOVE my Baretek, lots of grip and very, very comfortable. I think the horses like it, too. :)

    Valentino...I always try to let someone know I'm going out, either by a phone call or text, and also when they should expect to hear from me when I'm done.
    Trail riding is so, so good for you...and for your horse's mental state, in my opinion. Good luck getting back out there! I'd rather take a million baby steps and do it right than a couple of huge steps and screw up big time!