But I've been riding Smoke bareback more often lately, determined to be able to ride her at faster speeds without falling off!
Two weeks ago, I finally was able to canter her confidently, but I still had to hang on to her mane, which impeded my balance a little. I really wanted to learn how to do it without hanging on.
And I finally succeeded on Saturday! I figured out how to use my legs effectively without giving her confusing cues.
Smoke was probably sick of cantering by the time I finished, but I think she still had fun. I know I did! It was great to ride her at a fast pace without feeling like I was going to fall and without a saddle between us. It is amazing to ride a horse with complete contact between you.
Mom came out and took some pictures and videos of me...I am very sore but it was so worth it! I'm sure Smoke and I will be doing much more riding without the saddle than with.
I rode Ashwin for the first time on Saturday as well. He was a little nervous but I was pleased. He neck reins and seems to have had some training, but not a whole lot. He felt a little stiff so we will have to work on loosening him up, but he seems steady. I just walked him the first time, but hopefully I can push him harder next time.
Before I rode him, I rode Smoke (with a saddle) and ponied (led) him to get a feel for how he handled. He didn't spook at a deer that jumped out of the cattails not five feet from us and he plowed right through ankle deep mud.
We were almost done riding when Ashwin, who was trotting behind me and Smoke, tripped and fell on his knees. His head went between Smoke's back legs...and he stood up lifting her on top of his shoulders.
Smoke was mad and starting kicking which scared Ashwin, so he pulled back suddenly and Smoke dropped down with a thud! It was pretty funny...I only wish someone had caught it on video.