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How often do you REALLY ride bareback?

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  • How often do you REALLY ride bareback?

    I've recently gotten into the habit of riding my horse to his field after we are done riding (it's quite a hike), and my 7 year old saint of a horse never seems to mind. I thought maybe I should do it more often, I used to ride my old guy sans saddle, but he was basically a couch and was born with common sense (not so much the 7 year old, but he's getting better). I also remembered at a clinic once, GM talked about how beneficial it is to ride bareback and he had a story about a junior rider who used to ride bareback all the time and they had to beg her back into her saddle when it came time to show.

    So, tonight I saddled up, rode for about 5 min in the saddle, and said "what the heck" and took the saddle off. It was like a whole other experience. My horse is usually more attentive to my aids than the actual job, so it was an interesting transformation for him too. First of all, I actually used all of my aids (of course I always use them, just maybe not at the same time?), and the aids I used were LIGHT. I kept more consistent contact than usual, not hanging on his mouth, but in my attempt to stay with/on the horse, there was no way I was riding with either rein loopy! My horse started moving all the parts of his body he needed, not just the part I was asking for at that second. He had to think for himself and he was really going forward, not just moving his feet faster, which is his favorite cover up ("what are you complaining about? My feet ARE moving!"). We WTC and popped over some flower boxes, thank goodness he's so smooth, and were able to get our good lead change. We never missed a distance except once when he got distracted ("did something move over there? Are you sure? I think something moved over there, really I did, I just want to look and check it out... Flower box, ah!!!!").

    Moral of the story is, it went really well for both of us, and I plan on doing it again, soon. I'm lucky to have a horse that will put up with my baloney, my other 7 year old would have me in the hospital if I attempted this stunt!

    My question is, how often does anyone actually ride bareback? I know it's hard and my horse is more forgiving than most, but I can't be the only one!

  • #2
    I do at least once every two weeks. I really do feel the difference in my seat/balance with all of my bareback work. Plus I love that when I'm riding bareback I can feel every part of my horse..it really makes it easier to feel him engaging and using his body, and makes it easier to feel if he is avoiding a particular leg/etc. Plus its fun to change it up a bit

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    • #3
      Probably I ride 2-3 times /week bareback, wtc. I grew up riding everywhere bareback so it's no big deal for us, and I'm constantly amazed how many people DON'T do it! All my horses get ridden bareback & when people say 'oh my horse doesn't like being ridden bareback,' I think it's weird.

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      • #4
        As a kid, I used to do it several times a month when I kept my pony at a friend's home. We'd hop out of the pool in our swim suits, run down the hill to the pasture and hop on a naked pony (no bridle, halter.....nothing), kick and hang on! Oh how I miss those young and dumb days...

        Nowadays, not so much.

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        • #5
          I enjoy bareback riding, but my TB's wither's tend to get in the way of me sitting in a spot that is comfortable for either of us! I do enjoy riding around bareback on the QH I work with - it's very helpful to get him really responsive to leg

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          • #6
            Way back when I was 13 and got my first horse. My parents were wanting to go low budget so I rode bareback for the first year. I think it was great for my balance. I still ride bareback but more here and there than on a regular basis. I often do it when I feel too lazy to throw a saddle on the girl. I like the closeness that you have with the horse- This is making me think I should ride bareback more often!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by big_red_ottb View Post
              I enjoy bareback riding, but my TB's wither's tend to get in the way of me sitting in a spot that is comfortable for either of us! I do enjoy riding around bareback on the QH I work with - it's very helpful to get him really responsive to leg
              I was going to say - wouldn't it depend on the horse? I've seen some backs that do not look like they'd be comfortable for the rider or the horse bareback.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kdow View Post
                I was going to say - wouldn't it depend on the horse? I've seen some backs that do not look like they'd be comfortable for the rider or the horse bareback.
                This. I ride my OTTB in and out of the paddock all the time, sometimes trotting up if I'm in a hurry. I've ridden him bareback but something about bony withers and bareback holds no appeal for me!

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                • #9
                  All the time. My son's pony is a porker, so while the slow-eating TB is masticating his dinner, I hop on the pony several times a week and go trot and canter for 10-15 minutes. As a fitness plan it is not working for her, but it's fun and gives me something to do while waiting for the big guy to finish his dinner. Pony doesn't really get dinner (an ounce of vitamin) so I don't worry about her digestion.

                  If I'm feeling somehow off, nothing recenters your riding like trotting and cantering bareback. it gets you back in the center of the horse and balancing, because if you try to hold on with your leg you confuse the horse. You can feel EVERYTHING and feel how your horse reacts to everything you do. It is a very useful tool.

                  I don't ride the TB much -- his backbone is fine for me but he has a sensitive back and I worry about my butt bones aggravating it.

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                  • #10
                    Love bareback!

                    I ride bareback 1-2 times a week, usually on my comfy appendix paint. I usually use a bareback pad (not with the stirrups because that's dumb) to keep my butt clean. The pad also helps make riding my high withered TB bareback more comfortable (as comfortable as that can get).

                    It does help me with straightness in my body, because you can't get away with being crooked riding bareback.
                    http://www.stampyandthebrain.com

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                    • #11
                      All the time. Especially in summer I'm more often out of the tack than in it. We do our serious fitness work with tack on, but that's because my back appreciates the security of a saddle. Besides, if you haven't got any tack on, you can take the horse for a swim in the pond afters.
                      "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                      Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                      Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.

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                      • #12
                        6 rides/week. I have one nice round horsey that is easy, I just use a towel to give me some grip and keep my butt clean. The second critter who is a good candidate has a roached back and shark fin wither. My parts have survived a ride with just the towel, and towel with another pad folded underneath.

                        Currently shopping for a good bareback pad for the shark. I want one with dee rings up front. Can't decide whether to go for the $60-$80 pads that most folks have (Best Friends) or go for something nicer. Maybe a Thinline. There are several of handsome, pricier options on ebay.
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                        • #13
                          This thread is quite timely as I attempted to do more than walk my horse bareback for the first time yesterday. It was a nice change and good for me to work on ensuring I am balanced on his back and riding with good contact. It was not as disasterous as I thought it would be and I felt like it would be something I'd like to try again.

                          On occasion, I will hop on bareback to walk my horse or go on a short trail ride. I find it relaxing for both of us and gives me an opportunity to really feel his back come up as we walk along. My horse isn't always the easiest to ride or handle, but walking along bareback seems natural? comfortable? for the both of us.

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                          • #14
                            As much as I'd love to do it more often... because I love the feeling of closeness that you get...
                            I'm pretty sure I'm a health hazard to any horse's back- I have THE POINTIEST seat bones you will ever find on anyone

                            Not a great plan after spending $$$$$ on chiro and massages for them... and a custom fit saddle...

                            So the closest I get is taking my stirrups off my saddle once or twice a week and riding that way.

                            I'm sure they are thankful
                            Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!

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                            • #15
                              All the time on my super comfy TB who is really shaped more like a big pony. I do it partly out of laziness but I think we both enjoy it too. It's also nice not to have to wear breeches to the barn everyday as I do not ride in my saddle in jeans.

                              I think it's great for improving your position over jumps as its really difficult to throw yourself up your horses neck while also staying on (particularly with one who sometimes likes to toss in a little buck after the jumps).

                              We spend a lot of time hacking out since he's not a big fan of ring work, and as a 17-year-old with 50 starts under his belt plus a second career as a hunter I figure he deserves to have some fun. Lately I've also been riding without a bridle and with just a halter and lead rope. I'd really like to try him with just a neck strap (jumping too) but I think it'd be better not to try that in the open, and our ring does not have a fence around it.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by EAY View Post
                                All the time on my super comfy TB who is really shaped more like a big pony. I do it partly out of laziness but I think we both enjoy it too. It's also nice not to have to wear breeches to the barn everyday as I do not ride in my saddle in jeans.
                                I tried to do bareback in jeans but I make indentations where the seams of my jeans are. No amount of currying gets those out, lol, and I figure that can't be comfortable for him.
                                http://www.stampyandthebrain.com

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by morsekg View Post
                                  I tried to do bareback in jeans but I make indentations where the seams of my jeans are. No amount of currying gets those out, lol, and I figure that can't be comfortable for him.
                                  I use a bareback pad, partly for comfort and partly to keep my pants clean. He's not only shaped like a pony. He likes to stay dirty like a pony (he's gray of course).

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                                  • #18
                                    I go through periods where I do it a lot, and periods where I hardly ride bareback at all. I can w/t/c on my 7 year old TB, and he is great about it. I won't do it on days that he is "up" because, well, I value my life and he can be quite athletic. I started riding him bareback when he was 5 years old, and he was a bit wild about it at first, but he quickly figured out that he liked it too. I actually think his canter is better bareback. We do have a bit of wither/crotch interference, lol, but it's not so bad that I can't ride him bareback in relative comfort.

                                    I rode him bareback a lot when we were having a weird chiropractic issue we were working through that caused his saddle to shift dramatically to the right. It really helped me figure out where the problem was coming from (his whole ribcage and all of his vertebrae had shifted right - probably from falling somewhere without me knowing about it), and also helped me assess his progress with the adjustments.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by EAY View Post
                                      I use a bareback pad, partly for comfort and partly to keep my pants clean. He's not only shaped like a pony. He likes to stay dirty like a pony (he's gray of course).
                                      I still get it through my bareback pad, lol. I've just been riding in breeches regardless. Mine is a Coolback one. I don't know why they call it that, nothing "cooling" about it, makes the horse sweat like crazy under it. Maybe because my butt doesn't get sweaty from his back, lol. What do you have?

                                      I'm glad mine isn't a gray, most of the time people can't tell just how nasty dirty he really is!
                                      http://www.stampyandthebrain.com

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by jumpingmaya View Post
                                        As much as I'd love to do it more often... because I love the feeling of closeness that you get...
                                        I'm pretty sure I'm a health hazard to any horse's back- I have THE POINTIEST seat bones you will ever find on anyone
                                        The rider should bear most of their weight on their thighs, not their seat bones. Coupled with a bareback pad it should be doable.
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