Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Ride Home

The first part of the ride is here.

After the horses had finished up their picnic (that's a lie - they would have never been finished)...  After Bill and I decided the horses had finished up their picnic, we tacked them back up.  Let me tell you, that's a real chore when you're barebacking.  I used to be a purist when riding bareback and would refuse to use a bareback pad.  However, her highness is rather bony toward the end of the season and a little extra padding makes both of us more comfortable..

The re-tacking's the easy part,
it's the finding something tall enough to mount from.
*Remember, I'm about the only one on the planet in my family
who can't use *my* Million Dollar Idea.

She's so patient while I throw myself at her,
only one ear twitch

I try to have a goal for each season.  My goal this season is to ride the one-hour trail bridleless.  To that end, I've been practicing dropping the reins when we're out on the trails.  Estes was doing so well on this ride that when we hit the bottom of Pinky's Wash, I decided to try to ride back home entirely without using my reins.

We did okay.  Not spectacular, but okay. I had three times I used the reins.  The first was to reinforce the whoa.  Even that was good.  Estes is a very forward horse and we've been working on her whoa all summer.  I knew there would be no way in hell I could go bridleless without a good whoa.  She and I have had some pretty good battles over whoa this summer.  This whoa wasn't one of those battles.  I gave her the verbal command, sat down hard with my seat and she didn't stop, so I reached forward for the reins and slid them back on her neck toward me.  She stopped.  That's a huge step.  You can see in the picture how relaxed she is and how much play I still have in the reins.  I never even picked them up, just slid them toward me.

Rein touch number one.

I don't have a picture of my second rein touch because Bill and Ranger were trying hard to keep up with us.  I'd moved her into a trot, which was really nice until she realized Ranger and Bill were trotting along, too.  Then the horse race was on.  Before it really got out of hand, I had to rein her in.  With Bill bouncing along on Ranger's crazy lope (he looks like a porpoise), there wasn't an opportunity for a picture.

After we got them back down to a walk, I dropped the reins and away we went.  Into a tree.
I was calling her bad names, pressing like crazy with my left leg,
trying to move her away from the tree, and laughing my butt off.
I think this is payback for stopping the race between her and Ranger.
Since she wasn't able to scrape me off on that tree, she tried a different one.  I figured I could duck under the first set of branches, but then I got a look at the second set of branches and there was my third rein touch.

I feel pretty good about that touch, too, though.  It didn't take any mouth pressure to move her off the tree, simply rein pressure across her neck.  One of the things I'm going to do when I do my bridleless ride is to use a neck rope like the one Julie Goodnight has designed.

Only, I don't own one of Julie's yet, so I'll probably use braided twine until I buy one of hers.  Since I'm planning on using a neck rope, I was happy to see her respond to just neck pressure.  Yes, she's trained to neck rein, but when she gets stubborn (not that that ever happens), I have to go do direct reining.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, which I was really thankful for.  We'd agreed that we'd go to reins to cross the highway, just for safety's sake.  Our "rule" is that the bridleless riding will begin and end at the highway.  Not sure how that will work once I actually leave the headgear behind at the lodge, though.

My plans to continue toward my goal are:
  • switch out to the halter that Mrs Mom made me and attach Ashee's barrel rein
  • make a neck rein and start riding with it in addition to the halter and barrel rein
  • put on my big girl panties and Cowgirl Up, in reality the only reason I haven't done my ride yet is because I'm a big ole chicken shit
I should note that Bill doesn't have enough sense to bridle his horse and has been riding essentially bridleless forever, so while I get all giddy about riding home without the reins, he's been doing it all along. He's just gracious enough not to rub it in my face.


Unknown said...

Awesome! It seems getting to be winter goals are all the rage! It's a good time to set horse goals, I think.

I am so in awe of people/horses who ride bridless. That is one of my ultimate goals, but years down the line, I think. I need to get my riding and balance down first (for the bareback part of that goal).

You can do it! And I can't wait to read about it!

Shirley said...

Bridleless is all about communication, isn't it? There are lots of ways to ask, and bless'em, our horses are more than willing to give.

Mrs. Mom said...

Oh yeah- that is *totally* an Eat Shit and DIE face in that one shot!

Bet I can make you a neck rope. And a set of purple reins with scissor snaps to match the pretty halter :) Just say the word, and we'll hook you up!

TjandMark said...

Looks like you both had fun. I really like that you have concrete goals. As soon as I get my hip in order, ( I fell off Buddy!) I am going to take your example and make some goals with each of my horses.

GunDiva said...

It would be a whole lot easier to work on some of our goals if we had an arena to work in. I'm not a huge fan of arena work, being an outdoor girl, but things like bridleless riding would be easier to focus on in an arena.

Julie says that in order to go bridleless, your horse needs to be 100% obedient and let's face it, Estes is about 95% obedient. However, out on the trail, she's got more to focus on than just me. I don't know that out on the trail she'll ever be 100% obedient.

Rachel said...


I can't remember the last time I put a bridle on Kona, but that's only been in the pasture... where I know that we're relatively safe unless she crashes through the fence. Again.

So excited that you've gotten so far with Estes! Sorry for laughing at the pic of her barking you...

Funder said...

GREAT ride on your princess! A suggestion for the highway: are you willing to ride her across the highway with a bridle, then pull it off and hang it in a tree near the road? That way you can pick it up again when you're close to home and put it back on.