Bareback School

In my last post I mentioned that Spicy and I have a fancy new throne coming our way in November.

Seen here modeling what I'll eventually have.
Spicy was really done with my saddle shit at this point.

I continued riding Spicy in my old saddles for the time being, but Spicy was starting to have issues. His disposition during tacking up was never great, but it worsened. Then, he got spooky. Like, really spooky. He did some WEG-worthy reining spins that almost left me suspended in the air, cartoon style, after he 'left'.


Then came the sensitivity. He was bug eyed, difficult to catch, flinchy to the touch, and seemed outright terrified of me. In my last dressage lesson with CC he was so keyed up he wouldn't even let her touch his neck. She walked up to him, outstretched her hand and he shied violently to the next county.

I'll admit, I took his sudden change in behavior a little personally even though I shouldn't have. He used to nicker and run up to me in the field. Now he snorted at me, wild eyed, and ran away. Currying was no longer a scratchy enjoying pleasure but involved a lot of tail lashing and teeth gnashing.

I made three changes, the first being on CC's suggestion to start him on a magnesium supplement. I started him on MagRestore. Apparently the type of magnesium included is more easy for the horse to digest, and it also comes in a pelleted form which ensures there's no dust left on the bottom of the bucket.

Next I took a step back and added back in our pre-ride lunging and ground work. I used to do even a brief two minute lunge any time I tacked him up. I meant to phase it out but really... I hate lunging. I just want to get on, so I stopped. Apparently this was regarded as a bad idea.

The final change was I ditched the saddle completely.

I think my barn owner thought I was a little bananas when I slapped a bareback pad on him. The last time she saw me ride this horse I couldn't get him to go forward off my leg for more than a few strides before he spun or went sideways. He did that really scary thing I hate when the horse gets really short in the neck and empty in the bridle. Cool, so not only are you going to maybe explode or teleport but I have no feel on your mouth so who knows if I'll even go with you.

He stood patiently while I climbed on him, walked down to the arena, and started right in on lateral work. Spicy felt like the horse I had earlier this summer. We even went on a trail ride around the property, interacting with deer and horses galloping in the field next to us and he was on the buckle.

Convinced it was a fluke, I came out the next day and rode bareback again. We did a thirty minute ride complete with lateral work and lots of sitting trot. At the end I slipped my reins and Spicy stretched all the way down until he hit the buckle.

It didn't seem like a leap of faith at the time to climb on him bareback. In all his antics under saddle I never really felt like they were directed at ditching me in the dirt. It just felt like he Could Not. I wish I had listened to him sooner.

Review of this bad boy coming soon.

Unfortunately, I guess my No Stirrup November has started early. My abs are already screaming!!

Comments

  1. I freaking love riding bareback. At least twice a month I'll swing up there with just a half pad (i am not fancy enough for a bareback pad) and my sidepull and go do some dressage. I swear it helps both of us, but especially me, since it really forces you to be hyperaware of what your seat and leg are doing. Imagine how tuned up you and Spicy will both be by the time your saddle gets here!

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    1. I thought about doing the just a halfpad but he can still get a little spooky so I figured I'd be better off with something to hang on to

      It's been amazing the change in my seat and legs already, particularly doing lateral work. I had a horrible habit of getting all twisty to do lateral work... and I can't bareback because i will just slip off. I have to actually sit not crooked. UNBELIEVABLE!

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  2. You're going to be so freaking strong! I'm glad you already have a solution on the way, and figured out exactly what was bothering him. As I was reading, I was going to suggest pulling a lyme titer, because that can make them super touchy and spooky like that too. But it seems it was most definitely the saddle! I hope your new one arrives ahead of schedule!

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    1. it's funny you mention the lyme titre, because I've gone back and forth on it pulling one. But considering how he's been since we stopped using a saddle I think if it WERE lymes he wouldn't have had such a 'miraculous' recovery over the course of a week...

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    2. I agree completely! That behavior will stick around if it's lyme.

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  3. I love that bareback pad, I borrowed it from a kid at the new old barn (lol oh man that's a mouthful) probably it will be the only thing I miss about that place.

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  4. Yassss. No stirrup BAREBACK November. Definitely on my agenda.

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    1. YES! and so cuddly. and starts in october :P

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  5. I have that pad and love it. When I actually use it. I haven’t climbed on bareback in ages... glad you had fun!

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    1. you should do it! especially as it starts getting cold... the horses are so warm :D

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  6. That's my goal for this winter- to ride bareback as much as possible. I need a BB pad though, so let me know if you like the TL one!

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    1. Oh a review is coming. tl;dr - it's awesome.

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  7. I had to do the same this summer when Indys saddle didnt fit.....it was really fun for the month!

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    1. I think it's fun to take advantage of an unfortunate situation and turn it into a challenge!

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  8. I'm glad you got to the root of the problem (and that you're the sticky rider you are). I think I would have borrowed an exercise saddle or treeless endurance saddle to play it safe, and I admire your trust in him to try bareback.

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    1. if I had access to either of those things I definitely would have... it probably wasn't entirely smart. But I don't think he has a mean bone in his body and doesnt TRY to dump me so I gave it a shot!

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