There comes a time in every horseman's life when they pass a milestone. It may be starting his first colt or accomplishing a leg yield or true side pass. Yesterday was one of mine. It has been about 3 years in coming. I rode Raven bridleless. Yes, I did. I have been riding her with a bridle over the last month or so, but not using the rein unless I absolutely had too. If you recall I had been trying to learn to do a hauches in on her. I just wasn't getting it. So I decided to go back to some basics and just started to ask for one stepover of her hindquarters with my leg only. Then two and so on all the way around and in both directions, I did the same with her shoulders. Then I started doing it with her straight, but with a little shape to her. When she could do that then I started to ask without a rein until she would disengage or move her shoulders or side pass without me holding the reins. I started just laying the reins over the saddle horn and asking for turns, stops, walk, trot, canter and stops from those gaits without using the rein. Well this past week I have been able to walk her forward and disengage her hindquarters just using my leg and seat. Oh, I would go back to the rein to reinforce things at times, but as much as possible I would leave the rein alone.
Yesterday, I started riding her with the bridle doing the things described above and was getting such results that I decided to take her in the round pen where it would be a little safer for both of us and take the bridle off. I got on her and had the stick in one hand to help if needed. I asked her to move off, let me tell you it is a different feeling with no reins in your hand or on her head to grab hold of as a security. But I just acted the same way I was and used my seat and leg to direct her movements. I made sure that I could stop her with my seat, and change directions and back up with her before I went to a trot and did the same thing with her. Then I went to a canter and worked through the same things. Then I started changing it up going from a walk to trot, stopping, turning, backing, back to walk or trot up to a canter back to a walk and so on for the next 20 minutes or so. That was so cool. I plan to review and do some more today. I will probable do this in the round pen a few times before I go out to the bigger paddock but I will make it out there too. Oh, by the way, I have been getting some haunches in too. She is better on the right than the left, but that will get better too.
I also had an opportunity to ride Jake and that went well. I have to get him to the point where he will move better off my seat and legs too. I also have to get him situated so that he will let a rider mount or dismount from the fence, because my 8 yr old granddaughter is riding now and it will be easier for her to get on and off. I think I will also teach him to kneel so that she can get on that way too. So I have some work cut out for me.