Back in the Saddle - ReRiding strictly bareback?
I'm sitting here, depriving myself of sleep, daydreaming about the day my knees are healed enough to get back into riding. Long story short, bad, freak riding accident knocked me out of the saddle and out of the running for the mare of my dreams. (See: Lily.)
So when I do get back in the saddle, and you mark my words, I WILL get back in the saddle, I've been thinking of going strictly bareback until I've become confident in my ability again. Now I want to re-ride this way for a few reasons.
First and foremost, I never did a lot of bareback when I learned the first time. When I rode daily, I had no problem losing my stirrups because it was a common occurrence. After the 'accident', if you told me to drop my stirrups, I was a hot mess. I later came to the understanding that I used my stirrups as a crutch, and I never got the chance to correct it.
Second, I feel like I'd be able to be a lot more confident riding horses in general if I were forced to use my legs bareback and without stirrups, especially when it comes to leg-yeilds, getting that nose tipped in, and general leg strength.
Third, I fear cantering bareback and would like to get over that fear. I figure I can't trot forever bareback (well, physically, yes, but eventually I'd get bored, knowing me.)
Fourth, seat development! Need I say more? :)
Before I quit riding horses, I was really a confident rider with full tack. I'd get on, quit -thinking- so much, and just ride, fly and enjoy myself. Didn't matter what the horse did under me, I'd stay on and come out grinning ear-to-ear. My trainer started using me to exercise unused lesson horses, it was a dream, but then my knees and longevity in my knees won out and I had to quit. So. Yeah. After the accident my balance was really thrown off; if I lost a stirrup my ride went from beautiful to ... beginner.
ANYWAY! No more drama, what are your feelings on re-riding strictly bareback? Would it translate well into either discipline (english/western), or would it just leave me a really fantastic /bareback/ rider? I used to think that bareback was the "stick-shift" of horseback riding, but someone told me that it wouldn't translate well into riding in tack, so I sort of lost my conviction to do it.
There's pros and cons to riding bareback. It will certainly help your seat and balance, but if you are coming off an injury, it is also important to build up your strength correctly for the injuries you are overcoming. I've had multiple knee surgeries (among other things) and I always make sure to build myself up correctly for my own safety and to make sure I'm not injuring my horses. In the past I've found that when I am crooked (for example, left knee healing from surgery as in this past year), I have at times thrown my horse's back out because I wasn't evenly balanced in the saddle.
I find sometimes riding at the walk and trot (and that's it) with and without stirrups allowing myself to really feel and focus where I am in the saddle. I focus on myself from the feet up, where my feet are, my heels, my ankles, if they are loose, relaxed, etc. I feel my seat bones in the saddle, as well as my pelvis and if I am straight, balanced, and centered. And from there I work my way up through my back, ribcage, shoulders, neck and head. It helps me really "reset" my position when I am feeling off or crooked, and allows me to work through it to ensure I am riding correctly and effectively. I find with a proper fitting saddle (for you and the horse), this works better than just bareback because the saddle provides my horse some cushion for when I am crooked or uneven, and allows me to really feel and properly work through it.
Good luck with your recovery and keep us posted with your progress!
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