Spending the summer riding Meeker bareback gave me some confidence to try Estes the following summer. I love Estes, but I have to admit I have a healthy respect (I refuse to call it fear) for her agility and quickness, so it took even more courage for me to climb aboard Estes bareback than it did Meeker.
I started on Estes the same way I started with Meeker. Once around the block, then twice around the block, then the Ski Road loop over the period of a couple of weeks. It was all good, so one day after our short ride, I decided I'd just ride Estes to the pen, the heck with getting off and walking.
I maybe should have put a little more thought into my plan, but everything had gone so well, I didn't give the walk to the pen a second thought. Never mind that in order to get to the pen we'd have to cross the street, go through an open gate (that hadn't been there the year before), and walk behind the livery horses tied to the rail to get to our gate to the pen. The "yard" where the dude rail is located is actually a dirt road that runs in front of the livery, so the gate must be open to public access - the livery can close the gate, but cannot lock it to impede public traffic.
I've ridden across the street, through the gate, and behind the dude rail hundreds of times, but always in a saddle on my way to the forest access trail. Because I'd ridden it successfully so many times, I didn't give much thought to doing it bareback.
Mom was walking to the pen alongside me and we were just chatting away. We crossed the street without incident and reached the open gate. The next thing I remember, Estes and I were nowhere near the gate. Somehow, we'd ended up about thirty feet to the right of the gate, near the office and the guest entrance. Estes was pretty worked up about something, but I couldn't figure out what at first, not that it mattered right then. What I had to concentrate on was staying on top and keeping her from crashing through the office. I consciously grabbed a handful of mane and started circling her until she slowed down. I don't think her feet ever stopped moving, but she finally managed to stay in one place.
Once she was as calm as I was going to get her, I rode her back around and through the gate. Going through the gate, I saw what had set her off. Sometime during the day, the livery had put a flag up in the flag holder and it was "new". Normally, "new's" not so bad, but "new" and snapping in the wind was not okay with Queen Estes.
It took me a while to calm down and realize that I'd managed to stay on during her little blow up, which consisted of bolting and spinning, but no bucking (Thank God). Probably the only reason I managed was because I'd finally relaxed while on her back and wasn't tense. Or it was luck.