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Riding the dressage horse bareback, anyone else?

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  • Riding the dressage horse bareback, anyone else?

    This time of the year, I usually go without a saddle. It gets cold and dark, and I can ride my pony in my carharts and stay warm. I feel like it’s good for my balance, and I am fairly solid wtc, and mare is trained through 3rd. Who else does this, and I honestly feel like my horse goes WAY better without the saddle.

    Anyone else that rides bareback, notice a difference? I know my saddle fits, but I think it’s because I can’t brace and have to stay in a really correct center at all times ( or fall! ). I am now trying to pinpoint what exactly I am doing differently to hopefully transfer over to riding with our saddle. I also notice when I first start to canter without the saddle, it’s easier on a 20 meter circle for my to keep my balance.... where as the trot it’s easier on straight lines.

  • #2
    Wish I could cozy up to my horse sans saddle on the coldest days, but mine has dimetrodon withers and enough motion in her back that it's impossible to avoid contact!

    I do think I stay more conscious about keeping my leg rotated inward from the hip when I'm without a saddle, which seems to have quite an impact on my seat and leg. But I don't do it often enough with my current horse to have any more insight than that.
    Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

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    • #3
      Same issue as X-halt. The very thought brings tears to my eyes...

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        This might be my last great bareback horse! Super broke, wide and low wither, fairly smooth gaits, and sane. I broke her and trained her, not sure I will be testing my balance without a saddle in another decade!

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        • #5
          Yes, I rode bareback today! I like the feeling of closeness. I think my horse goes well, but necessarily as forward. I will work on all of the dressage movements bareback.

          We are 2nd level now, and I’ve been riding bareback since he was started under saddle. I remember once cantering and forgot how green he was! Whoops!

          It’s great for balance and to keep warm!

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          • #6
            We’re training/first and I’ve just starting riding bareback. He’s a QH with withers and I’m using a sticky bottom bareback pad. He moves nicely without the saddle and I’m slowly getting more comfortable with letting him move out. Cantering is fantastic - it’s the down transition to trot that scares me. It’s good for my balance and sitting centered as a tend to sit to the left. I’m looking forward to doing it more this winter, at least once a week.

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            • #7
              I don't but my daughter rides her mare bareback a lot. It was easier when the mare wasn't quite so fit!

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              • #8
                Wish I could. Mine has been very opposed to my bony rear end.

                Does a bareback pad defeat the purpose? Might have to try that.
                LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...

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                • #9
                  Do it all the time, though saying she's a dressage horse or calling myself a dressage rider at this point might be a stretch. This was my year to deconstruct my seat, and bareback has pointed out how tight we both get when I try too hard to ride the saddle rather than the horse.

                  A bareback pad doesn't spoil the effect, RH, it just keeps your clothes a little cleaner!

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                  • #10
                    The bareback pad gives me more confidence as my guy is round and sleek. Also, it puts something between my seat bones and his back which I think he appreciates. Mine is not fancy.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I do not use a bareback pad, but they do add stick ability. I prefer jeans, and if the horse starts to sweat, it does add grip. I totally consider myself a dressage rider, and if you are capable of riding a good intro test, then you should also consider yourself a dressage rider. I practice all of the third level work, but I started riding bareback when my mare was at first level. I wanted her broke enough to listen to me. I am fortunate to have a nice, short, sane horse that I can ride without a saddle. One thing I think of when I ride bareback is, the better and more correct the upward/downward transitions, the easier they are to sit.

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                      • #12
                        Just for fun.... video of Jessica VonBredow Wenrdl doing a demo of grand prix freestyle in a bareback pad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NllKp270phs&t=154s

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                        • #13
                          OMG! I love that video of Unee BB! I have been a huge fan of that pair since the World Cup in Vegas and I just love that she will "play" bareback and in a snaffle!

                          I ride my PSG horse bareback once in a blue moon. He is not a big mover, so it's not very hard. I don't do it often because he has a sensitive back and I worry that I'll make him sore.

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                          • #14
                            A good test of an independent seat is riding comfortably bareback without getting in the horse's way (so congrats!) and just because a saddle fits the horse well doesn't mean it fits the rider well.

                            Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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                            • #15
                              I rode my old small tour horse bareback for about 6 months when we were having saddle difficulties and it was out being fixed. I rode an I-1 bareback in a lesson that I was never quite able to replicate with a saddle. I would have shown that horse bareback in a second if it were legal.

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                              • #16
                                I happily ride my 6 year old gelding bareback a few times a week during the winter, I generally skip the bridle and just ride in his leather halter on these days. He is not strictly a dressage horse, has done some dressage, hunters, and jumpers and always enjoys the change over to bareback.

                                I fully admit that I am still working up the courage/core strength to be able to ask for the same amount of impulsion I can get with a saddle but we are slowly getting there (very slowly...).

                                I had also ridden my previous project horse bareback on a fairly regular basis. This one had a very pronounced whither and a fair bit of suspension so I was hesitant at first. My discovery with him was that you were fine on flat ground, trail rides that involved any type of downhill were a definite NO because then there was no avoiding the whither...

                                Here is a video of my 6 year old from earlier this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgKSRIcn8W0

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                                • #17
                                  Love riding bareback. When it's really cold and I want to go for a walking hack, I leave their blanket on. Makes it really warm and snuggley for both.

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                                  • #18
                                    Right now I actually don't have much of an option to do otherwise. I just started leasing a QH that the owners want to see going English...except they don't have an English saddle. And I don't feel secure in western saddles. So while I save up for an English saddle, and The Pony learns how to be a proper English horse, we're working bareback.

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                                    • #19
                                      I don't post the trot bareback because OW OW OW those shark fins will getcha. I can sit the trot okay, but can still make some contact that I don't appreciate so I mainly just work on the walk and canter. I have a habit of leaning forward or around my corners, so bareback is great to remind me that if I don't sit up and sit deep that I'll get close to a long trip into the dirt.

                                      Unfortunately, I don't get to ride bareback too often. The only way I have found to get on to ride bareback is to use my saddle then take it out from under me and that can be a lot of work. 17.3hh and 5'3 don't mix well to just leap on from a small mounting block. Maybe I need to just bring myself a ladder and keep it at the barn

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                                      • #20
                                        I too ride bareback on some of the horses I ride. My older mare I have ridden off and on for years bareback and have great fun doing so. I ride her daughter too bareback even though she is round as a barrel! She has very smooth gaits though and is fun to ride sans saddle. Now her full brother nope not even on a bet! He is a hand taller and can be a spook. Would never ride him bareback just for safety sake. I had one mare who hated to be ridden bareback so quickly stopped that endeavor. Have her 3 yr old filly, not sure yet if she will care or not.

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