If you're gonna do something stupid, word of advice?
Practice being stupid first.
So yesterday I stopped by the barn really briefly to feed ponies. I wasn't planning on riding, but H sent me a "but if you just hop on for a moment..." text, and I couldn't help but grab my reins as I headed out of the garage.
After stuffing nets, the sun was heading down, and I realized that I didn't grab my helmet. Crap. As a head injury sufferer, I don't believe in riding without a helmet.
But I was just going back to the garage so...
I figured I'd be fine just riding the trail back to the garage.
Here's something to keep in mind. You'll note earlier I said "Grabbed my reins".
That's all I grabbed.
I just grabbed the reins. No halter. Just reins. I wanted to loop them over Moon's neck and do like those nutters do and ride him with just a string around his neck. That is all.
But I didn't bring a helmet.
Now, remember the even earlier comment that if doing stupid things...practice first.
I put the reins around Moon's neck, hopped on him from the ground (yippee!) and kicked him forward and around. We headed up the trail just fine and made it all the way back to the barn without incident. Why would we? He's a good solid boy, and while the steering was questionable, the path was clear and I was pretty specific. Easy peasy.
Okay, here's where the stupid kicks in.
I thought "There's still some daylight..."
So I turned him and asked him to step off the trail into the deep snow.
He said "Uh, I don't think this is a good idea".
I said "Get your butt moving".
He took about 8 steps, the snow, melting with warm temps has become this quick-sand type stuff, and as he sunk deeper he decided I was officially nuts. And I also had ZERO connection to his face.
He started to turn.
So what did I do?
I pulled my rein around his neck in the opposite direction.
When you neck rein with a halter, it's really about the reins kinda touching that side of their neck. Not much more. We've been doing fine on that and Moon's really coming along.
But when they're wrapped under his neck...and you start pulling like you would if they were attached to a halter and he wasn't listening...
You're kinda creating a little noose around your pony's neck.
Me so stupid.
Soon as I did it, I realized what my actions would feel like to Moon, and *boom* off he trotted through the deep snow in a semi-panic, calming when I released my pull, and then realizing I was a nutcase on his back, his galloped his way back to the barn.
Except the horse trail is rather narrow, the weather was warm, and he multiple times fell off the side of it and we sunk into deep snow, he threw himself back out of it onto the trail, fell of again...
It was a VERY lurching, jarring, bumpy ride back to the barn, let me tell you.
Helmet-less and bridle-less. Just me and some stupid rope around his neck.
PRACTICE BEING SMART before you be STUPID.
I'm sure glad I did. Because my dear boy didn't try to kill me when I pulled up on that rope around his neck, he didn't buck, he didn't kick out, he didn't spin. He just headed for home.
I also have developed a very sticky butt, which means despite the fact I probably will never bare children in the future now thanks to my high-withered friend, I did stay perfectly balanced on his back, never once felt like I was about to fall off or become unseated. It was just a jarring ride home.
Where I thought "Stupid me. Sure glad we've been practicing first!"
Then I was twice as bad, and rode him back to the garage again the same way, JUST to prove that I hadn't ruined anything in my antics.
I hadn't. He went beautifully, I turned him a couple times with that rope around his neck, I considered pushing him back into the deep snow, and then my intelligence kicked in and I dismounted.
It was a good ride. A great ride. We've progressed a ton over winter in our bond. But boy oh boy, Mr. Moon reminds me on a regular basis why I'd be dead with any other horse, and why he is the pony for me.