Some days I run out of daylight, but still want to ride. That leaves riding at night. At my barn we have no lights near the arena. This can be a good thing because there are no shadows or a bad thing if you do not know the ground. On the other hand at Peggy's there is the safe arena, but the outdoor lights on the barn create shadows. Both situations bring a new, fun level to a ride.
One of the best results of a night ride is that I feel more and am more aware of how the horse is moving. We as people are such visual animals. Take sight away and our other senses are awakened. To enhance the feel, I ride bareback.
On Saturday, trimming my barefoot ponies and an impromptu photo shoot with Dad and Roscoe, caused me to get to Peggy's about 8:30pm. By time Peggy and I chatted and I dressed the pony, it was close to 9. For those worried about safety, my cell phone is always in my pocket when I ride alone. Plus Peggy was right in the house and can see half the arena. Well Comrade and I started working corners at the walks and a few walk pirouettes. He of course was looking into the shadows, expecting bogey men. I quickly was able to feel the preceding tension before an "OMG what is that?" moment and push him through. These rides are not always right for long and low, but neither do I want him to be a camel, head up back hollow. I am okay with a high head carriage, if the body is still smooth and swingy. During this ride, I really felt myself sit deep and around him while keeping my knees soft so he could move between. The push from his hind end is so great that I wish I could replicate it under saddle. His quality of movement is so good, I only need 15min to have a complete ride.
I figure if I can handle him during these spooky night rides, riding at a daylight show should not be too bad.
Riding at night came about from necessity, but actually is very enlightening. If you have a safe arena, ie not too much clutter inside, or a safe field I recommend trying a night ride. You will be more aware of whether your horse drops one side of his back or does not step through as well on one leg or if a spook is brewing. Don't get me wrong I have my moments where they catch me off guard, but overall my confidence and seat have improved.
And I will leave you with a picture of Frankenpony:) Roscoe's fly mask ears were causing a kink in his ears because they were too small. Unfortunately the next size up is too big for his face, so my mom cut the ears off another fly mask and sewed them onto his. After she put the first one on, she realized she did not check to see if there was a Left and a Right. There was, so now he looks really funny. Better than squished ears though.