Just had an excellent ride on Bandit! A short one. 30 minutes. The weightlifting I did last night left my lower back tired and I almost skipped riding. Glad I didn't, but 30 minutes left my eyes bugging out. So I decided Bandit needed "End of Lesson". Had nothing to do with the gasping I did while dismounting...
In the "poop or get off the pot" category, I decided to repeat having my stirrups up short, to the length I used in the videos. That is the shortest I've ever ridden with. I also gave Bandit's new bit a second try.
In his mouth with the throat latch too tight...got that corrected before mounting:
End of Lesson...yeah, Bandit got to eat some today:
It seems to work really well. He doesn't have much of a wrinkle, but the design keeps it well away from his teeth. Given how forward he acted bitless, and in the last two rides with the new bit, could his previous bit have sometimes given him trouble? Maybe. Because El Bandito was ready to go!
We did some trotting, but someone put his "Auto-canter switch" to on. Spent the ride trying to convince him we didn't NEED to canter. Went for a short 1/4 mile trip on pavement. He trotted part of it. Cantered briefly. When we turned around, he wanted to canter home. I insisted we walk, because I don't want him to start thinking about racing home.
As we entered the arena...120 feet straight ahead. He noticed. I figured what the heck, so we cantered. Only 40 yards, but it was straight. He liked it. A lot.
Instead of trying for a half seat, I tried to stay in the seat. Wasn't great at it, but not bad. And I couldn't have been too bad a couple of days ago, either, because I don't think he'd have been so eager if it had bothered him before. He would trot at the very thought, and wanted to canter more often than I did. I took to bribing him: "Here's some grass...come on, eat some...(pant, pant)...go ahead, grab another bite...
" We'd walk, he'd chew, and then he was ready to go again.
We did one of our first stop to canter transitions. We were stopped, he was thinking about it, I said, "Do you wanna..." - and at the "w", we started a canter. We even powered through the small part of the egg shape several times. By the end, I was going, "No, easy, you can trot...nothing wrong with trotting, you know...
I think the shorter stirrup is going to be my new standard. It was feeling pretty good after 10 minutes, and by twenty I was thinking about shortening it a hole. I didn't, and don't plan to anytime soon. But by End of Lesson, MY lesson was that it was feeling really good. Heels were getting down and (interestingly) my feet were creeping back out of the stirrup, from the normal "home" position to almost ball of foot. I've been using the home position for 8 years straight, so that was very unusual.
But it was FUN. WE had FUN. Bandit didn't complain about being in the arena.
I don't know if it was the change in my position, or the change in bits. I really think, tho, that it was mostly bit. I got to thinking. At a canter or trot, wouldn't any sagging in a snaffle be emphasized by the downward beat? Could some of those downward beats have pulled the regular snaffle far enough down to hit his teeth? That has been my struggle with him - how not to pull his lips back like The Joker but still not hit his teeth. On a trail ride, with him mostly walking, maybe it wasn't hitting his teeth. But maybe, with the downward momentum at a fast trot and canter, it was.
I don't know. I do feel pretty good now that, as much as I disliked how I looked riding, it wasn't bothering Bandit. From the moment I mounted up, he was ready to GO. And I think that is really cool! Even if I do need to take 800 mg of Motrin...
... Our riding style needs to be efficient enough that we can keep it up for the entire ride.
That, or we make sure our ride ends before our body does???!!! The over 50 crowd understands...
BTW - Did I mention what a great guy Bandit is?