I have been online looking at Argentinian horses and the tack the gauchos use when they are working. It really is so basic, blankets and a strap to keep them on and some light stirrups. Well, I’m sure there is a frame somewhere…
I’m planning a trip to Argentina this winter and thought to myself… what if that is the type of saddle I will be riding on? Better start getting used to it… Even if it’s not what I will be using, it wouldn’t hurt me a bit to work on my balance.
I ride in a western saddle most of the time. Because I ride by myself, I know I have gotten into some sloppy habits. There is a horn to brace against, more of a seat to hold your behind…So today I decided to ride in an old English style saddle I received as a hand-me-down. Just so happens, it was made in Argentina! I’ll take that as a sign…
I took the stirrups off so I wouldn’t depend on them and climbed aboard Minnow. I have ridden him bareback several times. He hardly ever spooks at anything and if he does, he spooks in place. No wild jumping to the side and all that crazy stuff…so I felt pretty secure. I was just going to walk and trot for the first go…
As we moved out to warm up in the big open pasture across from the barn I could already tell this was going to be a learning experience of a different kind. One of those learning experiences when you think you are going out to learn one thing and you come back with a couple of totally different lessons.
Why was he walking so funny? He kept wiggling over to the left and I would use my left leg to push him back to the right. Why wasn’t he walking in a straight line?
I started to push him into a side pass to the left and before I even applied my leg he was moving over there. I tried it again to figure out what he was responding to and was surprised to learn that as I started to cue him, I was dropping the right side of my pelvis into his back. He knew what I was asking before I was consciously asking and was already moving away from my pressure. Hmmmm….This horse is better trained than I am a rider.
It reminded me of when my son would repeat something back to me as an adult, that I might have told him way back in elementary school. It is only then I realize he was listening.
I laughed at myself for being annoyed that Minnow was so sensitive. It made me ride in a constant state of awareness. Of course, I should always ride like that but there is that laziness I was talking about earlier. I admonished myself for becoming so complacent and then cut myself some slack. There is no reason to feel bad about it, I thought. Just take the info and use this opportunity to improve if that is your intention. So for the next few days, I rode without stirrups in that English saddle. I had a couple of near falls but, thankfully, Minnow took care of me. Tomorrow I leave for a show and I have some tuning up to do but I think I will be delighted by what we have both learned over the last few days.
I wonder how many other things I have taught Minnow, that I don’t know about. Nevermind, I don’t want to know. I will just let the good things be a pleasant surprise.