I ride bareback a lot and I really enjoy it. I rode my friend's horse(who is not any easy ride) bareback yesterday for the first time and got tons of compliments on how perfect my position was and how my legs didn't move at all. When I ride in a saddle though, my leg is just "ok" and definitely has room to improve. When I ride bareback, I feel completely comfortable and secure, like my legs aren't moving and I can handle any mischief the horse tries to pull, but in a saddle, I do feel my legs moving a bit more than I'd like, especially my left leg when I'm cantering. Anyone know why this is? I thought you needed pretty strong legs to ride bareback(w/t/c and jump) and still hold your position, so why doesn't that translate that much to my riding in a saddle?
I mean my position overall is pretty solid; it's not like my legs are flopping around, but I just would like them to be a bit tighter. I don't have any problems with riding without stirrups either, but I have had some issues with how I should be placing my feet in the stirrups and how to distribute my weight to the inside of my feet instead of the outside. Could that be the issue? Anyone else had similar problems?
When I got my first horse long ago, my parents needed to economize so I rode for a whole year bareback before I got a saddle. I had to learn how to ride with a saddle because it just isn't the same as bareback. I still find it easier to do a sitting trot with no stirrups. So perhaps your issue is that you have just spent more time bareback? I felt that spending a year riding bareback helped me to develop excellent balance and has served me well. I still like to ride bareback it's a lot of fun (and my horse has a comfy back)
I don't know about you but when I ride bareback if my position is poor I fall off. Your leg doesn't move because if it did you would slide or bounce right off.
One of the funnest things for me is with summer camp kids (ie total beginners), I can't for the life of my get them to keep their leg closed around their ponies and lift through their chest while in the saddle. However the moment I put them up on a nice round, bareback pony they sit on their seat bones, open their chest, and stretch their calves down and around the pony. Though interestingly enough on an uncomfortable horse (bigger withers or bouncier trot) the opposite occurs, they curl their backs and pinch with their knees.
My money's on saddle fit too. I think everybody ought to learn to ride bareback. But it makes you very picky about your saddles then! Back in the day, the only thing that made me happy was an early version of a monoflap made by Avanti - even a Hermes pancake felt like "too much."
To answer your original question though, I think your position is better because you have a direct feel of your horse.
I didn't even think about the saddle but now that I do....I think you guys hit the nail on the head! I've been riding in a loaner saddle lately, since my saddle is too small for my horse and is off getting sold. I hate the saddle and I do think I'm fighting it, since my leg is a bit too long for the flaps and the seat doesn't allow me to position my leg how I want to. Too bad I can't lesson bareback until a get a new saddle!