I finely made up my mind, to start bridle-less training today. I’ve been contemplating this for awhile now. Searching for training tips and pointers from every article I can get my hands on, I learned my riding technique sucks, “putting it bluntly”. So, as head strong as I can be at times, I’m not going to let that stand in my way. Even though I try not to be heavy handed on my horses mouth, proper balance and insecurities get the best of me in the end. Therefore I get the same results every time. A half ass in-put from my horse, because of a half ass out-put from me. Reading several articles by one in particular trainer, it is time to take it to a whole new level.
I’ve learned the way I sit in the saddle plays a crucial role on how my horse performs. Duh! Well, I already knew this, but my understanding was cloudy, due to my lack of understanding. So, in his words of wisdom, it hit me right down to the very core. Finally a guy who puts words where I can get a hold on them. Being able to sit correctly, hold your hands right and place your legs where they need to be, takes practice. Something that really stuck in my head, was muscle memory. Having ridden the same way for many years, it’s now time to change my way of thinking first. Then I can change the way I ride.
After dinner I saddled up Jerzey. And because I use my hands way to much, I did something out of the ordinary for me. I put a rope halter on her, snapped some split leather reins to the cheeks of the halter and off we went. Sitting deep and lumbering in the saddle, we started out with large circles in the exercise arena. I have been working on leg cues for sometime now. So, hoping it would be a little easier, since I had already done some preliminary steps to working off leg pressure. Circling with reins in hand, I lay the reins on her neck and squeezed my right leg until she turned a tight circle to the left. I did the same on the other side. We repeated these figures until I felt comfortable putting the reins down.
Pretty soon, we were moving forward in large circles, then making the circles smaller in both directions without using my hands at all. Paying close attention to my seat, sitting loosely in the saddle with my legs hanging straight down. Never changing the way I sat or moving my legs until I asked her to do a specific maneuver. It’s going to take practice at the walk, before I can step it up to a trot. I realized while working with her, her stop has a lag. I have to pick up the reins for her to come completely to a halt. When she does come to a complete stop, I squeeze my legs, pull back on the reins and she backs up great. I’m going to have to concentrate on a better stop, before I can move on.