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Riding/Jumping Bareback

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  • Riding/Jumping Bareback

    I rode bareback this afternoon, and it was so FUN! I haven't in a while, and he was so good, I thought I'd try popping over a few jumps, admittedly they were only about 2'6 but it was pretty hard! Fun though.
    Got me thinking, it's really beneficial to ride bareback now and then isn't it? A girlI know didn't have a saddle for years when she first started riding, now she ALWAYS wins the Eq. (with a saddle now though)...
    I know it's good for you, but what does riding bareback teach you? Gives you a secure seat?

  • #2
    Owning a couple 16+hh warmbloods, I don't do much bareback these days. But I did hop on my mare bareback the other day and even cantered her for the 1st time bareback. I was sadly surprised how much my butt slopped around However, when I was done I felt very accomplished (that I didn't fall! haha) and that bareback definitely helps balance and stability, and totally cures my leaning forward - I should make myself ride bareback more often.

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    • #3
      Besides balance, I really think bareback helps develop your leg muscles and is the best way to know what even pressure all the way from your thigh through your ankle ought to feel like. Plus, it's so easy then to use the legs separately and to isolate any part of the leg to give an aid. Believe me, it's sticking a saddle under there that messes everything up. First you have to be able to ride that saddle before you can even get to riding your horse - and it's kind of a shortcut to staying on but it's sort of the long way around to communicating with the animal. It's harder for you to feel him and vice versa. He just feels big shifts in your weight (it seems to me) as opposed to finer muscle movements which are just right there with backback. Of course, this gets more and more mitigated the better you ride. i.e. the better you ride the less your weight shifts in the saddle unless you want it to and the more he feels fine muscle stuff even with the saddle. It's always seemed to me that "the better you ride" is a yardstick meaning the more backback like you ride in a saddle. For instance, it's really hard to jump ahead when jumping bareback. But if you look at alot of photo critiques, how often do you notice this fault? It's very prevalent. SO many pictures have it to some degree, even if it's slight.
      Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!

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      • #4
        A few years ago my trainer made a point of making everyone who rode more than once or twice a week using one of their lessons to ride completely bareback. It was probably the best my eq has ever been and the most in tune with the horse I've ever been. I would recommend it to anyone. Definitely helped my seat, my leg and my confidence; if I could ride my sometimes flighty and green red head mare without a saddle I sure as hell could do it with one

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        • #5
          I used to always ride my old horse bareback and I had a pretty tight leg when I had him. He was a paint/qh/tb so he had a bit of the stocky/chubbyness from his paint/qh side. His canter wasn't very comfortable (worse with the saddle than without because there was something to bounce off of!) and I think riding him bareback helped me learn to follow his canter better.

          My new horse is a full TB with a high wither, and the most I've ventured to do bareback is trot (maybe I cantered once...I remember thinking about trying it but I don't remember if I did or not). He doesn't like bareback very much- I think it's a sensory overload from him. It's unfortunate, because some of my favorite moments with my old horse were experienced without a saddle (or bridle or halter, even!).

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          • #6
            I still tend to ride more often bareback than I do with a saddle. It was always my preferrence when I was a kid...and still is. I find I have better balance bareback...and it's more comfy now that I have two horses decently built for bareback riding. My late mare required an extra thick bareback pad...her withers were so high and sharp that if she ever went swimming she could be mistaken for Jaws. Add in her *very* animated boingy trot...well, ouch!
            But now I have a foundation type built chunky QH and an average built more narrow appendix QH. We do everything bareback that we do under saddle.
            Jumping bareback is great if you can keep your hands independent of your seat and balance and don't grab at the reins. If you have issues jumping ahead or "posing"...jumping bareback will cure that. Gives you a rock solid leg too. Try schooling courses bareback to fine tune your seat and legs for lead changes, etc. And you'll also notice that riding bareback works best with your legs in the correct position; even without a saddle your balance is improved with your heels down, legs relaxed and keeping your heel under your hip. You *really* notice right away when your leg is sliding back or if you develop a chair seat.
            And in winter...you just can't beat a toasty warm bareback romp through the a snowstorm!
            You jump in the saddle,
            Hold onto the bridle!
            Jump in the line!
            ...Belefonte

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            • #7
              I love bareback. I've developed such a better seat now. I don't tend to ride bareback very much at the barn, usually just hop on when bringing a horse up and play around a bit, but at my friend's house, I ride the TNW bareback. It can be a bit uncomfortable on her, especially now that she's losing weight and finding more withers. But she looooooves bareback, and up until a couple weeks ago, we had jumped higher without a saddle than with. I can see a total difference in my position and the way I ride after even just a bareback "tune-up!"

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              • #8
                My girls have one bareback lesson a week, they love it!! they call it the "fun" lesson. They can now walk and trot bareback ( meg can canter) we do a lot of fun courses of poles, cones, and obstacles on that day! It really helps them feel more comfortable and makes their seat more secure!
                They do a lot of goofing off bareback befor eand after lessons and baths, they love to sit up there and let the ponies graze while they dry!
                Kim
                If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.

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                • #9
                  I love riding bareback! My grandfather didn't let us ride with a saddle until we could put it on ourselves. I think I was about 10 when I could accomplish that task (they still have the saddle--big ol' western jobber--and it's HEAVY!).

                  My horse is very tolerant of it but as he's a 16.2 TB with withers I haven't done more than walk and trot. When his downward transitions get a bit better under saddle I'll give cantering and jumping a go. I have done so with other horses that 1)aren't quite so green and 2) are QHs with no withers or backbones. I love walking out bareback when it's cold outside because it keeps my bum warm!
                  I love my Econo-Nag!

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                  • #10
                    I did some bareback towards the end of the summer (once I found out the horse I was leasing was awesome for it). It really helped me feel what was going on. I've always had problems sitting the canter-mostly finding the right balance between sitting deep versus driving/ice cream scooping. Sitting it bareback helped me feel which leg was moving and where that put my body. Now I kind of wish I never had to canter with a saddle!
                    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

                    Phoenix Animal Rescue

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                    • #11
                      I have found it helps out a lot of the greenier horses teaching them flying lead changes. Of course you have to consider how the horse is shaped. Lets face it some horses are just not built for bareback and really hurts the rider going any faster then a pleasure trot, but with the one who are built for it go for it. You are so intuned with the horse and feel everything it makes teaching them new things eaiser.

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