Haven't had any pictures of Bandit & I taken in a long time, but my wife walked Trooper (she was nervous about riding) so I had some pictures from today. It will be obvious I am not some fine rider and that age, back injuries and my love of jogging affect my riding. Oh well. One of the great things about owning a horse and riding him regularly is the horse learns to accept you as you are - something we need to learn to do with horses to some degree. Wanting improvement is OK, but a little bit of humility needs to be mixed in. Improvements tend to come slow to horses and riders, and maybe being happy with each other beats stressing over perfection.
In order, with a few comments:
^ This is Bandit when he is strolling along relaxed. I'm asking him to go left using the reins. A trend I see in all the pictures is that I don't have the slack I think
I have. That is why I love seeing pictures or videos. Not that I love what I see, but because I then see reality - and what I need to work on
to make a better reality in the future! Applying a neck rein, using the approach to neck reining taught by the US Cavalry, will take the slack out of the reins. With a solid curb bit, that WILL rotate the curb. Yet Bandit understands the totality of what is being asked. He doesn't break things down into smaller steps and get confused.
The next two are seconds apart. We turn (over mild objection by Bandit - notice I'm applying a lot of rein pressure and a little heel) to meet my wife & Trooper, then I use a little leg to try to keep Bandit from turning around and resuming ASAP on his own:
^As always, my left foot is turned more than my right. That is just the way I am. I am also tilted, which may also be how I frequently am. My guess is that I almost always have SOME tilt, but not normally as much as it looks like in this photo! Still...I think BANDIT looks adorable in the picture!
It also shows how he gets wider just behind where my legs go, which is part of why my legs go where they do! If my heel was under my hip, it would have more horse to go around. I don't use leg cues very much - although I'm using my left leg to press into his side in the bottom picture to let him know I'm not ready to turn around yet - but a person who doesn't use leg often can afford to have his heels next to the cinch. Someone giving frequent direction to a horse via heels may need their heels further back.
^Re-entering the neighborhood. I'm using the "Poppa Bear" setting, but I increasingly just like this approach. There is a dirt road just to the right of us, but Bandit always prefers to use the more uneven terrain just off to the side of the road. It looks like more work to me, but maybe it is softer on his feet? The yellow blooms are a Palo Verde tree
in blossom. The horse trailer in the background is my neighbor's.
Dismounting before reaching pavement. I'll lead Bandit the remaining 5 minutes home. I like this because good Bandit is darn near standing at attention. Mia sometimes was worried I was abandoning ship and could get squirrelly during a dismount. Bandit is rock solid at times like these. I really appreciate his cooperation!
Felt bad about how much I leaned, so went back and added a picture where Bandit is trotting away from my wife. Once I agreed it was OK to turn 180 and head home, he did so and jogged a little way. Until we got far enough from Trooper that Bandit felt he needed to slow down:
I think this one captures the reality of my leaning. I do lean sideways some. No getting around it. But not quite as much as it looks in some of the pictures. I also lean forward frequently, but I learned riding by reading Littauer. Works for us! Overall, Bandit behaved like a champ today. We dropped into the narrow wash today just because he seemed to want to go that direction. It has a couple of short but steep spots and he took careful baby steps walking slowly down - safer and more enjoyable to ride than when he would run down those spots.
My wife seemed to enjoy being out with the horses even if she wasn't riding Trooper. I've tried to encourage her to ride sometimes in our little arena. I think it would do wonders for her confidence (and skill!)...but she seems to view it as an insult.
Goodness knows I do it enough myself that I can't be offering an insult. Oh well. But Bandit was rock solid today!