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?