My little mare Bonnie continually reminds me how much fun riding is. Especially when it's challenging.
I deciding to try something completely off the wall.. "no hands" riding. The goal is to fix my sad hands, and nothing I've tried so far has worked. Being of "old school" riding, I also have a tendency to want to bully my horses into submission with the bit. Which I am making pointed efforts in correcting.
Take away your hands and what do you have left to use to move and steer your mount? You got it, seat, legs and balance.
Hang on my friends this could get wild!
Feet in stirrups, collect to light contact at the walk. Massage barrel with calves stretching Bonnie down and long, nice forward movement. I smile thinking this is going to be a great ride. Light squeeze of calves, instant trot (sitting). Instead of collecting up the reins I left them long, I was almost at the buckle with my hands out in front of the saddle at about 7 and 5 o'clock. Bonnie's head was high and nose in the air as I expected.
Spread my toes as wide as I could in boots and kept them there. This dropped my heel naturally. Kept my calves on, and I mean ON! Relax the seat, and sit back. Woops don't forget to steer with that seat hahahaha! Bonnie rewarded my efforts with a collected, impulsion from the hind, smooth, head down and round trot for as long as I maintained my "perfect" body position! When I lost it she let me know immediately (and I feel it today!)
This is where the "cruising" came into play. I let Bonnie go directions she choose while I was... I guess the word is "played with my seat" until I could 100% of the time put her into frame without my hands on the bit at all at walk / trot. I was ecstatic !
Next for the experiment.
I wanted to see what this does for my hands. So remembering the old "Don't spill your ice cream" lessons, elbows to ribs, closed fingers, thumb highest point on the reins and angle of forearm in line with Bonnie's mouth. Collected but long rein again walking and stretching Bonnie down and long into the bit. Collected rein again.. Light squeeze (sitting trot), did all the things I did before, toes wide, calves on, sit back.. no farther back... Bonnie went round and through without fighting !!! and guess what???? My reins were TOO LONG! I was able to collect more! I did one 20 meter circle, completely dropped the reins for another half circle then stopped off my seat. I was GRINNING, laughing and having a blast !!!
The BO made this comment which I took as a complement: "Where you riding bareback? You and Bonnie looked so natural"