Seems ironic after writing about run away Rogo a few days ago, but tonight I have a whole different story. I've been trying to incorporate as much bare back into my riding as I can get, without giving up on my saddle entirely (I would give it up for a while, but neither of us is to a stage we wouldn't regress in some areas without it). I ride bareback once or twice a week, and at the end of almost every ride I take the saddle off and ride bareback for ten or fifteen minutes. He seems to really like it. Maybe it's a coincidence, but he's been even more affectionate since we started this - it's such a nice connection. I can feel where his feet are almost intuitively and it's much easier to time my aids, for example we do the leg yield much better bare back. He also does a mean shoulder in and nice ten meter trot circles.
I haven't cantered bareback with him until today. I canter bare back on Savanah everywhere - in the arena and hacking, but I can't sit Rogo's trot very well yet (there's lots of suspension). Without a solid sitting trot those canter transitions, up and down, are a little dicey :) Also, a year ago he was VERY excited the one time I got on bare back and tore around the arena (trotting) with little steering or brakes, so I didn't try bare back on him again until recently.We had a great ride under saddle today - he was forward and focused. After about 30 minutes I decided to pull his saddle off and ride bare back, and then it hit me - today's the day to start cantering bareback with him. I trotted one circle and then asked for canter. He went right into it, but here's the strange part - he did this super slow motion canter that he's never done before. It was so slow that I had to really focus to keep my rhythm slow enough in following. It was like a good lope - not laboured, but not collected and super slow. After one circle I asked for trot and he did one tiny trot step and walked. I felt like he was trying really hard to take care of me and keep me safe at this new undertaking. He wasn't the least unbalanced or hesitant - just really slow. So I tried a circle the other way and he did the exact same thing. I'm going to see if I can catch some on video to show you. I'm just so puzzled, yet kind of pleased with it. I don't want this canter to be part of our repertoire, but it was a perfect first bare back canter on a horse whose big movement can be a little intimidating. Sometimes his intuitiveness scares me a little. No, scared is the wrong word. Leaves me in awe.
We had a really good lesson with Megan Bishop a few days ago. We worked on trot / canter / trot transitions a lot. They have regressed, as have our halts which we worked on as well. For the canter transitions my problem is that I can't sit his trot well, so I have this period where I try to rush from trot to canter. This gets Rogo off balance and he struggles with the first canter stride or two. Not pretty. Megan had me slow down that trot step just before cantering, so I can sit soidly and give a clear canter aid. It worked - Yeah! It needs more practice, lots more practice, but it's coming. She also got me to practice sitting trot, which is what I need in the longer term . The time I lost in Aug. / Sept. and the lack of lessons is telling on us there (transitions and halts) and other places, but it will all come back. I'm pretty happy with him.