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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2010
    Posts
    164

    Default I am comfortable bareback

    I always rode English. Now I have a quarter horse. I got a western saddle. It is comfortable except for the stirrups. They are stiff.

    I started riding bareback indoors for my seat. I have a very big horse. When I sit on him bareback I am right behind his withers. I wrap my legs around his barrel. Leg aids are easy. I feel very safe. I can do spins without moving.

    I put the saddle on him yesterday. Because he has big shoulders I put the saddle behind the blades. It sits there naturally. I think it is too far back from center. I am sitting back about 6 inches from where I sit bareback. I can not wrap my legs around him. Leg aids are harder. I do not feel as secure. I am not sitting around him. I am sitting on him.

    I told everyone I do not know western saddles. English saddles are thin and close to the horse. Is this the way western saddles feel? Am I putting the saddle too far back?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2011
    Posts
    1,192

    Default

    To address the stirrup issue...are they turned? Unless they're factory turned or wrapped, the fenders will force the stirrups parallel with the horse's side. As you figured out, this is murder on your legs.

    Here's an article on how to fix that.

    You fit a Western saddle similarly to an English saddle so there's enough room for the shoulder blade, ie, two or three fingers width of clearance between the point of the tree and the shoulder blade when the arm is extended.


    Here's a pretty good video about that.


    ETA: See if you can't try more saddles on him, especially saddle types. Depending on the rigging on the fenders, some saddles put you into a chair seat or pitch you one way or the other. Nobody says you HAVE to ride with a saddle either. If you like riding bareback, more power to you!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,879

    Default

    First to consider is that saddles distribute a rider's weight over a much larger surface than two seat bones do, making a rider on it's back much more comfortable for horses.

    You can imagine a back pack smoothly laying along your back and one with something in it that is poking you somewhere.

    Some very sensitive horses are right down uneasy with a bareback rider because of that poking in one spot for longer than a bit and may even be sore the next day.
    That is why vaulting pads generally are thick pads, to protect the horse's backs from the poking riding without a saddle is.

    Remember that saddles are also traditionally used to increase security of the riders when the horses are doing something more athletic than just getting from point A to B.
    Saddles are a good compromise between being one with a horse and a more secure seat.

    Once stirrups were added to saddles, what riders could do increased exponentially with the lateral movement security that provided.

    Bareback riding is great for riders to learn to balance better, but it is not without concerns that go along with it.
    It should be done with care for the horse's back, just as riding with any pad or saddle should be.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2008
    Posts
    4,022

    Default

    I had a similar experience as you once. I had started riding early in my life english. Came to own a horse late in my life and started riding western. My first western saddle was an old schooling saddle that was perfectly broken in. I upgraded to a wintec and the fenders were soft so again it felt comfortable. Then upgraded to a semi custom, and the fenders were so hard, despite training them, I started riding bareback and discovered I liked it better for all the reasons you mention.

    I rode bareback almost exclusively for 3 years, trails, jumping, everything, 6 days a week. Only time I used a saddle was for competition like team penning or pole bending. My horse was very fit at the time and had a double back, I was never on his spine and he never suffered any issues. He was built to be ridden bareback.

    I had a very hard time riding with stirrups for a long while after, even in an english saddle. When I started riding dressage, I took the stirrups off my saddles. My lovely semi custom western saddle collected dust.

    I had to force myself to learn to ride with stirrups again. I thought it was because I was free bareback and saddles were so restricting, but in reality I discovered that it was because I had a hard time being able to relax my leg and still use it effectively. I discovered that leg cues were so much easier bareback because if you tensed your leg or picked up your heel there was no repercussion, like your stirrup sliding home. While I developed great balance, and forever broke the habit of looking down, my legs became weaker and weaker and sloppy over time. Bad habits that still haunt me a decade later.

    I love the long long time I spent bareback, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I loved the freedom, loved not having to tack up, just find a step and hop on. Even loved how all my jeans developed permanent 'bare back butt" stains. But I "paid" for it with a steep learning curve going back to saddles after it.
    Worry is the biggest enemy of the present. It steals your joy and keeps you very busy doing absolutely nothing at all... it’s like using your imagination to create things you don’t want.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,879

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by buck22 View Post
    I had a similar experience as you once. I had started riding early in my life english. Came to own a horse late in my life and started riding western. My first western saddle was an old schooling saddle that was perfectly broken in. I upgraded to a wintec and the fenders were soft so again it felt comfortable. Then upgraded to a semi custom, and the fenders were so hard, despite training them, I started riding bareback and discovered I liked it better for all the reasons you mention.

    I rode bareback almost exclusively for 3 years, trails, jumping, everything, 6 days a week. Only time I used a saddle was for competition like team penning or pole bending. My horse was very fit at the time and had a double back, I was never on his spine and he never suffered any issues. He was built to be ridden bareback.

    I had a very hard time riding with stirrups for a long while after, even in an english saddle. When I started riding dressage, I took the stirrups off my saddles. My lovely semi custom western saddle collected dust.

    I had to force myself to learn to ride with stirrups again. I thought it was because I was free bareback and saddles were so restricting, but in reality I discovered that it was because I had a hard time being able to relax my leg and still use it effectively. I discovered that leg cues were so much easier bareback because if you tensed your leg or picked up your heel there was no repercussion, like your stirrup sliding home. While I developed great balance, and forever broke the habit of looking down, my legs became weaker and weaker and sloppy over time. Bad habits that still haunt me a decade later.

    I love the long long time I spent bareback, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I loved the freedom, loved not having to tack up, just find a step and hop on. Even loved how all my jeans developed permanent 'bare back butt" stains. But I "paid" for it with a steep learning curve going back to saddles after it.
    That is very true.
    I learned to ride as a kid bareback, we didn't have saddles, my horses were also mules and worked farming, so any riding was bareback.

    Even after years of riding with saddles later, I still can lose a stirrup occasionally, which doesn't affect my balance at all, because I don't use them that much.

    My leg was not really affected, as I am very short, so have proportionally extremely short legs and they have to be very effective.
    Then, galloping race horses, you really don't get to use your leg long and draping around the horse that much as a communicating tool, so again there leg was not imperative as it is in most other kinds of riding.

    Interesting what you say about how riding bareback so much resulted in you losing an effective lower leg.

    The big difference from riding with saddle or not for me was in wanting to lean forward and ride very light with a saddle, as sitting on a saddle feels like sitting like a lump on a log.

    Then a heifer we were running into the chute ran over me and dislocated my hip and after that, riding bareback was very painful, so had to get used to a saddle if I wanted to or not.
    Even today, I still really don't like saddles and even less western saddles.

    As with everything else, there is no action without reaction, one way of riding or other are each one complementary if used for some time, better yet if used as cross training.

    Will be interesting to hear what others have to say.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2010
    Posts
    164

    Default

    I need to twist the stirrups. Others have told me that. This was a new saddle when I got it.

    I bring my own padding, Bluey. He has a flat back also. I would ride with a pad but how to keep it on?

    I agree that legs do not relax in western stirrups. English stirrups are good. Will twisting stirrups work better?



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