I've always wanted to jump either without stirrups or bareback. However, I'm not really sure where to start. I've never done it before, and I don't want to hurt myself by recklessly jumping on and going for it.
Also, can you improve your jumping form by jumping without stirrups just like you can improve your form on the flat? Or does it not really make a difference? This is one of the major reasons I am thinking about doing it. I tend to resist the closing of my hip and knee angle over jumps, as well as reaching up to either grab mane or do a crest release. As a result I sometimes get left behind. Especially on the new mare I am riding. She has an explosive jump, even over the smaller x-rails. I hate doing crest releases though since I feel like I am losing control by not having contact with my horse over the jump. But I don't want to accidently grab her in the mouth if she decides to jump big.
"One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"
Great exercise. I have one horse that I'm 2 1/2 years into riding stirrup-less (only). We jump a couple of times a week and I credit that no-stirrups riding with making my strength and form better on my other horses.
Don't be afraid to grab mane (especially if you're worried about hitting your horse in the mouth), but IME, it's easier to stay with the horse because you don't have stirrups to brace off of....unless, of course, you get jumped loose by a particularly large effort.
As a kid, I learned to ride western...then discovered jumping!! Without an English saddle back then, I chose to ride bareback so I could jump. I ended up more comfortable jumping bareback than in the English saddle my parents bought for me!! I could jump the small jumps in the saddle...then go bareback for the higher jumps!! It just felt more secure to me!! I felt that way right up into my 20's!! Now in my sixties, I still have a pretty tight seat...in a saddle now, though!!! Learning to jump bareback will teach you to stay forward...getting left is not an option. If your horse has a big jump...learn to use a more following rein/auto release.
Last edited by crosscreeksh; Apr. 2, 2013 at 11:24 PM.
Reason: Added thought
I find jumping much easier without stirrups. Do lots of stirrup-less two point work to build those muscles. Then take it easy. As someone else suggested start with some trot poles then work your way up to crossrails.
I used to jump my pony all the time bareback, over just about anything!
I have a horse again who doesn't mind bareback jumping, it's taken a little getting used to, he's a big 16.3, with rather large wither, but he's so much fun bareback! Definitely get comfortable w/t/c first, and I completely agree with a neck strap, never used one when I was younger, love it for bareback now. Oh, make sure you have brakes, or even better they slow down/stop when you say woah, there have been a few times I was losing my balance and him stopping off my voice kept me on.
Like everyone else has said, bareback is a GREAT tool! If you're not used to it, go slowly. But once you master it, you'll find that your balance and security in the saddle is much better! Get comfortable doing flat work before you start jumping, obviously. It's really not so hard.
The worst part about jumping bareback is the sometimes uncoordinated landing that results in a bad crotch-withers combo...
The best way to avoid that is to get super strong thigh and calf muscles, which comes with time. So my advice is that, yes, it's a great tool, and go slowly!