Even though I could sense her intelligence the moment I met her, it was still unbelievable how fast Bailey learned.
I felt like an artist with a blank canvass imagining the unlimited possibilities.
It was now 2017 and Bailey was successfully executing basic commands such as transitions, turning, bending and moving into the bridle. We were building a relationship that is similar to dancers, and soon communicating became effortless.
Winter days are short, making it difficult to ride before evening fell. One January day I arrived at the barn ready to ride only to realize I had about an hour of daylight left. Tacking up a horse and properly grooming them takes just about that long.
I almost went home until an idea hit me.
Skip the tack.
As I groomed Bailey and led her to the ring with nothing on but a bridle, I debated if I would regret this decision. It was a chilly day and I had never ridden Bailey bareback, but I knew this would be a great test of trust.
Saddles tend to muffle the rider’s aids to the horse so bareback is a lot more effective, but can send mixed signals.
As she had done so many times before, Bailey amazed me with her level of maturity. I felt so comfortable I forgot I had no saddle. This trust and communication would be crucial in the future when we began to face competition in foreign places.