Our first bareback ride was awesome. I knew my tiny human wasn't going to give me very long, so I didn't bother with tack and literally rode for 5 mins. I worked on our 90* of turn on the forehand to the left and right. He listens better to my leg to the right. No surprise there. We worked on our leg yields. Also better off my right leg, for the most part. And then I turned him out because my child was screaming on the monitor....
Instead of having my hands and reins all over, I've been riding him like I would Twister. And I think riding him bareback helped something click for him. Because I can use very little rein aid and do most of my riding with my legs now. Unlike Twister, he is light in my hands, doesn't grab the bit and try to yank me off the saddle.........
Today we introduced leg yields at the trot and when I pushed him over with my right leg he just moved right over. It was very smooth for a first time. We had a bit of a fight off my left leg but I was pretty happy anyways.
And then today I parked him between 2 trot poles and asked him to back up and for the first time he just backed right up.
He's stretching down and out more. he's becoming round around my legs. he's accepting light contact. A week ago I thought there was no way we could make a show in November but today I think it's plausible. I really want to do more cantering but now that he's doing well at walk and trot, it's too wet for cantering.
I ride him 4-5x a week. I ask him to do a lot in a 20 minute ride. But he seems to retain more and do better when given a lot of challenges in a short amount of time. And I make sure to give him an easy, fun day. I hardly ever give him a mental break in our 20 minute rides, and he doesn't seem to need it. Not yet anyways.
And by the way, how cute is my tiny human on her Curtis? Once she's ready to start showing in 4 or 5 years, I'm totally losing my horse hahaha