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Learning to ride bareback First?

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  • Learning to ride bareback First?

    Hello, first post, new to board, have question that I am looking for more horsey input on.

    First let me preface by saying I ride, rode very well as a teen and young adult), then gave it all up for marriage and kids. I just got back into it, and was pleasently suprised to see that all those years off( 12+ jumping and then have ridden off and on when I could) haven't hurt me much and was able to get right back into the swing of things!

    Meanwhile, i have been TRYING to find my daughter a place to take lessons at that a) don't cost an arm and a leg b) are with in 20 miles of our home in Ft worth texas c) work with my schedule( overnight weekend vet tech) and husband scheducle( A/D Marine) AND finally d) my sons soccer games and practices.

    She is 8 and wants to learn how to ride. I had her start taking "lessons" with woman I would never had as my first choice. However, I was getting desperate. All other avenues had either not called me back( huge pet peeve by the way) or did not have any room in thier program. I found a woman who would give lessons for dirt cheap, $10, and I thought ok this is good until I can find someone else. Just to get my DD on a horse.Granted its a POA and about 12 hands and my daughter is very tall for her 8 years!

    My dilema is this: the woman wants her to learn to ride bareback first. And ride bareback WELL first. Like WTC . She sent me an email asking me to NOT bring my saddle anymore and to support her on this. She says riding in the saddle will give her a false sense of security, and that she is the trainer and knows what she is doing as she has been doing this a long time( LOL she is all of 24 years). I thought that by doing the lessons half bareback half with the saddle was pretty good for the last 5 "lessons".
    I guess I already know the answer..... She isn't the type of intstructor I want for my daughter, but I guess my question is, is she totally off her rocker, or is there some truth method to her madness? I learned to ride bareback after I learned to ride in the saddle.....and I know my daughter. She doesn't like riding bareback( and truthfully her POA is so narrow its like balancing on a 2x4!).

    Not sure if this is the right place to ask, so forgive me if its is.

    Thanks

    Concerned parent.

  • #2
    Your daughter is young and so has plenty of time to learn to ride.
    If you have someone now that you don't like as a teacher, better keep looking longer for someone you like.

    As for learning to ride bareback, we did start most students, especially young kids, the first times on the longe line, some with a pad and vaulting surcingle with handles and did mostly balancing exercises, so the student leans first an independent seat, independent of the hands on the reins for balance.
    We didn't do that long, a few short first lessons, then moved on to our English saddles.

    I would say that you need to look at the whole picture, not just the techniques used to train.

    The age of the trainer doesn't mean that much, it is what the trainer has been taught herself that matters.
    I was teaching at 16 beginners in our riding school, under the watchful eye of the resident instructor.

    There is one place around where you are that seems a good place for kids to learn, but I am not sure.
    They are also a horse trader's barn and they are not quite always on the level there, although for what I have seen in their riding school programs, they seem to teach more like Pony Club does, which is a good, properly structured program.
    I don't know how they implement it, but that alone should be a good, basic idea of how to teach.

    You may find people that teach for little and some may even be good teachers for a beginner, but generally, you will find the better trainers do charge a reasonable fee and are worth it.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think learning to ride bareback first sounds so shocking. Especially for a child.
      I hear of lots of folks (including on this bb) who's parents were too cheap to buy them a saddle when they started riding. Many of these guys develop amazing seats.
      My daughter's first trainer would not let her use stirrups in the beginning. I don't know how she would ride if she had used them of course, but I can tell you that she is known for her velcro buns. At 12 years old, she has not fallen off a horse in about 2 years.
      and let me tell you, she has been on plenty of evil ponies (her forte!) and a horse or two with a good spook.
      I guess it just depends on what your looking for. But childhood is the time to develop that kind of balance.
      I am no trainer, so I can't speak to any other issues. But I would not necessarily write someone off for this reason alone.

      Comment


      • #4
        She wants to teach your daughter to ride all the gaits before she lets her have a saddle? Sounds kind of nuts to me.

        My wonderful RI had me do my first few lessons without a saddle -just w/t - on a very quiet mare. She did that because when I came to her I was having balance problems. But as soon as I felt secure without a saddle at the walk and a few strides of trot, we moved on to using a saddle.

        I don't know - sounds like somebody with an agenda to me. But it doesn't really matter what we think. She's your daughter and you're right there watching - so if you're not comfortable with the instructor's style, I'd urge you to find someone else.

        Spoken as someone who couldn't wait to get back into the saddle herself and got impatient - then wound up spending all kinds of time unlearning bad habits and overcoming phobias.
        I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

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        • #5
          I don't see anything wrong with learning to ride bareback first, that believe it or not was how I first started riding. I was a sneaky kid that went out to my neighbors pony and rode it all the time with no saddle and no bridle. Once I started taking lessons with a trainer they were quite impressed with my "natural ability". I would have to say it was from all the bareback riding.

          I would see no problem with the trainer teaching her bareback first as long as she spends good quality time with each gait before moving onto the next gait. Making sure the child is comfortable and safe before moving on.

          But I agree if you are questioning her methods its time to find a new trainer, because deep down you will never feel comfortable with what she is teaching your daughter.

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          • #6
            I don't see anything wrong with bareback lessons. Your daughter will develop an independent seat and hands this way and transitioning to a saddle will be easy. I assume she wears a helmet for these lessons and they are given either on the longe (best idea IMO) or at least in an enclosed arena.

            If this trainer is not willing to provide a bareback pad, tell her you will buy one yourself for your daughter's comfort. If trainer objects to the pad start looking for another trainer.

            I ride bareback often and my former couch of aged TB is losing his topline, so I use a saddle pad held in place by a surcingle. This bit of comfort for me does not affect the way I sit on him at all.

            Of course if there is another reason your daughter is not happy with this trainer change ASAP. Unless trainer & student get along progress will be affected. Just be sure to let your daughter know she is not locked into lessons with this trainer just because you found her first.
            At 8yo (which, coincidentally is when I began taking riding lessons) I think I would have taken lessons from Satan himself just to be with horses.
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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            • #7
              I did this not only because my parents were cheap, but the saddles that came with the leased horse didn't fit my little child butt.

              Comment


              • #8
                When I started riding about 13 years ago, I learned bareback with a halter and lead on Morgan(!!!) horses. We did W/T/C on and off the lunge and then graduated to a bridle before a saddle. It did help me with my balance, especially my next few years at another barn (the first barn w/bareback was a not necessarily the nicest place in the world and I wanted to ride in a saddle and they wouldn't let me after about 1 year...maybe even longer) but it didn't make a huge difference. If I were to go back in time, I would probably have pushed the saddle issue harder (I was 8 so I didn't really know what was right) because I really did like the people and there might have been oppertunities for showing on the Morgan circuit, but I am happy the 'rents pulled me out!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I learned to ride bareback....and became quite adept at WTC and jumping stuff I shouldn't...all bareback.

                  I wasn't allowed to ride in a saddle unless my parents were RIGHT THERE because they figured I wouldn't get into as much trouble w/o a saddle. LOL Boy were THEY wrong. tee hee.

                  Made me a good rider I think.

                  That said, I don't think it's standard practice amongst equine professionals and I do think that it *can* teach some bad habits as far as position. But you learn to find your balance and stick.
                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think learning to ride bareback first could be a slightly double edged sword.

                    On the one hand, she'll have great balance and a good sticky seat. On the other, I find that when I ride bareback (especially on somewhat uncomfortable horses) I ride a little incorrectly to protect myself from pain, and sit far more back on my seat pockets than is generally "correct" I think that it's easy to get into the habit of gripping with the thighs, too, instead of distributing weight through the whole leg.

                    So, while it would probably be great for her riding as a whole, I'm not sure I think it should be all bareback all the time, especially with the amount of time it would take for her to be really proficient at all three gaits. It's sort of like riding without stirrups- it's really good for you, but some have a tendency to learn bad habits (pinching with the knee, or what have you).

                    But then again, at her age, I wouldn't expect there to be much difficulty for her to learn to adapt her position for whatever situation she's in... it would be easier for her than it would be for an adults, for sure.
                    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                    My CANTER blog.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I learned to ride bareback first as the borrowed pony only came with a bridle. My parents saw no point in buying a saddle unless it appeared that I was going to stick with it.

                      I fell off a lot. I got banged up a lot. A rank beginner rider has many challenges and being bareback only added to them. I was quite relieved when I finally got to take riding lessons at a barn where they used saddles. I was one of those kids who kept getting on when I fell off, but as an instructor, I can tell you there are plenty of kids who don't react that way.

                      I teach up/down beginners lessons. I would never start teaching a rank beginner bareback. The rider needs to buid some confidence on horseback, as well as learn the fundamentals of communicating with the horse first. Bareback is certainly an option for later, but not right off the bat.
                      Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
                      http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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                      • #12
                        That was how I learned - W/T/C and going over poles and teeny crossrails before I was allowed to use a saddle. Good - I had an AWESOME seat in terms of being able to stay on a horse. Bad - when I then started in hunter/equitation lessons, my position about gave my teacher apoplexy.

                        I just wish I could get back to being that secure bareback now.
                        www.kentuckysidesaddle.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I also think there needs to be some consideration regarding a "lesson" student vs a "backyard" kid.

                          I was a backyard kid. I had access to horses 24/7/365 from day one. My whole family was horsey.

                          I was raised around horses and had a pretty good understanding of things pretty early on.

                          Not sure I'd want to put some kid off the street into that situation tho.
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I learned bareback. I couldn't afford a saddle. I did everything bareback. Sometimes getting on a horse was a problem as I am not tall, but I was also told that if I couldn't find a way onto the horse I ought not to be riding it.
                            I am actually thankful that I learned the way I did. I have great balance. And feel the horse loads!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              At a farm where I once boarded, the oldest of the kids on the farm could manage getting bridles on the ponies by herself, but not the saddles (a question of tightening girths on roly-poly ponies ?). So, they rode bareback. She rode bareback alot. If the jumps in the ring were reset, she wanted to ride them bareback first 'to get used to them' before riding them in a saddle. She became a very accomplished rider.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Ken McNabb's(western trainer) Dad, I'll call Mr McNabb b/c I can't recall her name, runs a very successful 'youth ranch' for troubled teens. Each is assigned a horse. They ride that horse in a big round corral until they can w/t/c/and gallop..bareback. Then they can trade up or off for a different horse. Pretty slick trick for encouraging sticktoitiveness in many many ways. BUT- those kids ride as much or little as they like, all in a bunch together, taking as long as it takes to get up to a trot...

                                BUT- I think the instructor in question is sorta nuts. If you are a horse crazy 8 YO and you fall off- if it's often and high enough- you could be toast in terms of confidence. I want a kid to feel like they can do anything horseback...til the horse tells them they can't (meaning the first time they trot they think eh, so what...til the trot gets BIG and the kid gets like ...and I the instructor can ease the horse back down to a walk while they cling to the horn and turn white as a ghost )...but I do NOT want them falling off or losing their balance a ton. That's just a good way to shatter their little dream.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't think she's nuts, but then maybe I am. My dad learn to ride in the Norwegian Cavalry back in the 30s. They had to learn to ride bareback.
                                  I learned to ride bareback because I couldn't saddle the horses we had by myself (to tall horses, and to heavy saddles).

                                  I think riding bareback is not only good for the balance but it's easier to learn to feel the horse. Learn to feel when the horse is about to change gait etc. When I started back riding after my cancer treatment, I got a vaulting surcingle to give me some stablitiy and started back riding that way. I even ponied my then yearling up and down the roads with it. It helped me get back into shape much more quickly.

                                  Now I grew up where lessons weren't the norm for learning to ride horses so maybe I have it all wrong.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by amastrike
                                    That's one thing I cannot do. The only horse I can get on bareback without help is the 10.2hh Shetland! No way can I get on my 16hh gelding..

                                    I did learn to swing up, but also did get inventive about things I used to step up on. There were often times a ditch somewhere not too far away.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I learned to ride bareback 1st - WTC & even small jumps on ponies - starting when I was 7 years old. If this instructor is conscious of the added challenge, has a dependable lesson pony, and is a good teacher, it is a GREAT way to go.

                                      I really learned good balance and how to move naturally with the horse. It made me very confident by the time I did start using saddles. Now, years later as I teach myself, I often encourage my students to ride bareback in between lessons. I think it is good for them. I also like giving the occasional lesson on the lunge with a vaulting surcingle (has handles).
                                      Blacktree Farm
                                      Lessons, Training & Sporthorse Sales.
                                      Blacktree Studio
                                      Graphic Design, Web Design & Photography.

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                                      • #20
                                        I just had to post to say how wonderful it is to see everyone supporting learning to ride bareback early. When I read the OP's post, I was thinking that everyone would respond and say "what a crazy idea!"


                                        I am an instructor, and have always, ALWAYS wanted to be able to start my kids bareback in a halter, and graduate to reins, then a saddle. (either boss says no way or haven't had 100% trustworthy ponies) I feel like you learn to feel, you learn to use your body, you learn true balance, quiet aids, and good timing, etc. Lots of things you can't do if you're little/short and have a saddle between you and the horse.


                                        As for position... I feel like with riding, as you progress, there's always some things you have to re-learn in a different way. I think the positives of learning to ride bareback absolutely outweigh the fact that you may have to spend some time in the saddle focusing on position later... I mean hey, at least you'll be a pro at sitting the trot and can work without stirrups as long as necessary to get things right.

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