I'm a wee bit sore today.
Okay, maybe more than a wee bit. My inner thighs and my (ahem) girly bits are killin' me! I'll bet you're just dying to know why!
I rode Calypso bareback. Yes, yes I did. She was great, but she's bouncy and round like a barrel and damn, that spine, I swear it's constructed from a sheet of corrugated steel. OW! And to imagine I used to ride bareback all the time. Saddles were for wusses, bareback was where it was at. It was actually quite fun to be aboard bareback again, and apparently, judging from the soreness in my inner thighs, I need to do it more often.
Anyway, the mare was fabulous. Aside from the head-in-the-air thing that I'm slowly working on correcting, she was good. When she relaxes, slows the trot and rocks back just a tad onto her hindquarters, the head naturally comes down and the ride gets smoother. Little bit by little bit she's understanding that it IS more comfortable for her (and me!) to stretch that neck long and low and let her back relax so it's sproingy and rounded rather than horribly rigid and hollow. We'll get there, I'm in no hurry and forcing her into it isn't going to fix the overall "bad" way she carries herself at the trot.
She is so, so sensitive that sometimes she over-reacts when I ask for something from her. I was polishing up her neck reining response since I've been riding her with a direct (English) rein for several years.
Seems she didn't need much of a tune-up at all in that respect. I pressed the rein to her neck, nudged her with the outside leg and she sat back and practically did a 180. I'm pretty sure mane flew she turned so fast. Of course, being bareback and entirely unprepared for such a quick response I very nearly ended up on the ground, as it was, I ended up clinging to her side and grabbing mane! How very humiliating. I'm glad no one was watching.
Lesson learned...light touches with the rein for gentle, easy turns and NO leg, just a little seat. Of course, once I figured out how responsive she was feeling I played with it a little bit. But that's just me. Half-halt, outside leg nudge...SPINN!!!! WHEE! Half-halt, outside leg nudge...SPIIINNN!!!! WOOO HOOO!!! She's fun. And I didn't go sliding off the side when I was prepared for it. Hehehe! We spin in slo-mo at the moment as she isn't muscled and fit enough to do anything really fast, but we'll get there. Her lateral movement is right on, her halts are beautiful. She responds very, very well to voice commands, which is always a bonus. The louder you say "whoa!" the faster she stops.
I like to play when the horses have fun "buttons" on 'em. Chief's fun "button" is an almost piaffe. He's not perfect at it, but he can do it if asked nicely, and he can canter so, so slow there is very little forward movement. It's a ton of fun to ride.
Gabe doesn't have a fun "button" quite yet, but I'll figure one out. Maybe the Spanish Walk, just for the heck of it? I dunno yet. He already lifts those front legs pretty well if I tap the top fronts of them and he seems to have fun with it. It's a game to him. We'll start with it in hand, then, if he seems to enjoy it, maybe we'll try it in the saddle...later. We have the basics to perfect first.