...it's like going over rapids on a greased barrel.
Let's rewind to a couple evenings ago. I popped into the barn. My instructor was conversing with another boarder. "Ah, here you are!" she said, "I've got an idea to expand your horizons!"
"Uh huh?", I asked cautiously.
"You should ride Armani bareback. It's really fun! But he's a little slippery."
After asking how sane she felt, I admitted I had thought of trying it myself. Last night I got out of work after dark. I put on my extra-sticky deerskin, fullseat breeches. I made sure my instructor was home. "I'll scream if I break my neck." I told her.
I brought Armani in and cleaned him up. I put on his bridle and asked him to follow me to the arena. He turned and looked at his side.
"Yes, I know, boy. I forgot something."
Fortunately I'd been practicing mounting with a block lately. There was no way I was vaulting on without stirrups. Armani started to walk away from the block. I grabbed mane and wriggled aboard like a tick. Oops - need to review that hold-still-while-I-mount lesson again.
We walked around the arena and did some circles. I asked for some leg-yield. Armani almost jumped sideways. "I guess I don't need so much aid without the saddle."
How light he felt! We did a lot of lateral work. I was pleased by how delicate my aids could be. Armani seemed to move effortlessly beneath me. I was surprised by how powerful and broad he felt. And a little slippery. But I figured I should try some trot work. I asked him to trot.
Woops - too much aid again! We got halfway around a 20m circle and I began to slip sideways. "Whoa", I said. My hands said "whoa" too. But my legs, clinging on like a trapeze artist, they said "Go! Go!"...
Armani decided "Piaffe" was the answer.
I watched him piaffe for 5 strides in the mirror. Armani was beautiful and athletic. He looked like a chocolate dipped Lipizzaner stallion... with a skinny monkey in breeches hanging from his side. I pulled myself back on and asked him to trot again, for real this time.
I began to get a feel for sitting his trot bareback. The side-to-side motion is very strong. After a while I felt comfortable and let go of his mane.
"Well Armani, Stacy Westfall I am not."
1 hour ago