This morning I took in an hour’s ride at the barn. There’s no instruction or supervision, just the use of the horse for an hour. It was sublime. At 10:00 a.m. on a rainy fall morning, there’s few humans and most of the horses are munching hay. No one was kicking his or her stall or fuming about a wrong or injustice perpetrated upon the horse-self; just the quiet grinding of jaws, the rustle of hay, the occasional swallow.
I rode Sadie this morning. Had my lesson on her yesterday afternoon and learned about leg yielding. Previous attempts at same haven’t been so successful. Leah taught me on Sadie because Sadie is just darned cooperative about that kind of stuff and is a blue-eyed sweetheart. She’s also preggers and due in May.
So what I learned about leg yielding is that on a cooperative horse, I can do it! I pressed with my leg just a wee bit behind the girth (not much but enough to signal that I wanted her to move her rump) and bent her nose slightly to the direction inwhich I wanted her to go and Hey Presto! Sadie was walking sideways, leg over leg over leg. I changed legs and leads and Hey Presto! again; sideways leg over leg over leg back the other way.
I recalled a dressage competition I watched on TV once — ok, fast forward (I was in a hurry!) and saw the same thing but had not the foggiest idea of what made the horse do that. The rider was sitting up nice and neat and looking like she’d never broken a sweat in her life. So to me, actually doing it is a small miracle. And doing it in the quiet of the empty riding ring the very next day was another small miracle.
After we’d zig-zagged back and forth, I dismounted and removed the saddle and rode for another 10-15 minutes bareback, trying the same techniques. It was harder without the saddle, probably because when the trot speeds up, I get tense and am applying all kinds of pressure with both legs. But it was also good to sit the trot bareback and concentrate on relaxing and breathing.