Bandit & I did our first solo trip out in at least 7 months. I was planning on some arena work, but there was no wind, a blue sky, no one who wanted to ride with me...and what the heck! I walked him on the paved road past the houses with barking dogs and strange horses. One of the horses kept calling out. Bandit didn't approve. I think both of us were glad I was on solid ground, leading.
On the dirt road, I mounted up. I've decided my stirrup length will depend on where I'm riding. One hole up in the arena, where we do a lot of trotting. One hole down in the desert, where I like my legs to hang loose.
I just edited a short clip from the trailer for the movie Hondo. John Wayne was in high school in the early 20s. He was doing westerns in the 30s, where many of the extras would have learned their riding in 1900. Or earlier. So this may be a pretty good example of how that older style did a gallop:
I mention it because I'm probably one of the few who have ever tried that approach in the last 20 years. Not for galloping. That would feel freaky. But I find it is a very STABLE position. STABLE is good in a cargo plane. Bad in a fighter. If you want your horse to perform his best, ride him like a fighter. But if stable seems good...use him like a cargo plane.
Since he hadn't been solo in ages, my position today was much like Wayne's - feet forward and out, with 3 points of the triangle for stability. Bandit was tense. He'd initiate a trot. I'd stay STABLE and give a big, loud sigh. He'd slow to a walk, until he felt tense again. Then he'd trot, I'd stay stable, give a big sigh, and he'd slow. By our 4th trip on the dirt road near us, he was...well, blowing snot. Not HAPPY to be there, but less tense.
So we called it a day. I'm having problems finding anyone to ride with me, so Bandit & I may make a project of learning to go out alone. I think I'll plan on short rides, several times a week, and try to slowly stretch him into 60-90 minutes rides in the local area he knows so well. He may
come to enjoy it as a chance to go stretch his legs and burn some energy.
He didn't enjoy it today, but he stayed willing. If he acts like he's miserable, we'll stop. If I see improvement, we'll keep it up. Maybe even get to riding him in a normal position while solo...
Well, I can dream, can't I?
Of course, one never knows when one may need to draw a gun and shoot someone behind you...