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Riding bareback

(23 Posts)
Gabilan Mon 08-Jun-15 20:51:16

So, I'm having problems getting a saddle to fit my horse. I'm in touch with a couple of good saddlers and I'm on the hunt for something. In the meantime I'm borrowing a friend's saddle which a very good saddler assures me is OK for hacking out on with some padding underneath but not something to buy as it's too wide and no amount of flocking will change that.

In the meantime, I'm peering at him and thinking "well I used to ride bareback a lot. I've recently ridden a friend's horse bareback. Hmm. Is it worth a try?" Of course I'm not intending to go out on the roads but the yard I'm on has a fenced in, surfaced arena. He's a kind, reliable steady horse and looks after me. Any thoughts? Suggestions? Dire warnings that I'm risking my back and his? I can ride a decent Novice dressage test and I frequently ride without stirrups. I have an independent seat but my last name isn't Dujardin.

Velociraptor Mon 08-Jun-15 21:03:58

I would imagine it'll be a bit uncomfortable, but I can't see how it would do either of you any harm, unless you fall off, obviously. grin

Gabilan Mon 08-Jun-15 21:11:32

I'll pick the dog poo up out of the arena before I give it a go! I don't want to land in that as well as (potentially) hurt myself.

TropicalHorse Tue 09-Jun-15 06:43:36

Why not? I had a similar situation and my very hot, very sensitive horse schooled brilliantly bareback. I could react to him much more quickly because I could feel every little flinch and tension but I did have to cling on by the mane when he had an attack of the swerves!

Gabilan Tue 09-Jun-15 07:54:03

"I could react to him much more quickly because I could feel every little flinch and tension "

Well one of the problems I have with the borrowed saddle is that the combination of padding + over flocking means I feel like I'm perched on several cushions and I can't feel too much of what's going on. Hadn't thought of it that way but yes, bareback would nix that problem!

BlueChampagne Tue 09-Jun-15 12:32:37

Only one way to find out!

ThumbWitchesAbroad Tue 09-Jun-15 12:35:06

Oh if you're not going out on the roads, then why not?

Do you have a back protector if you're worried about falling off and hurting yourself? I know they're not foolproof, but it would offer some protection.

I haven't ridden bareback since I was a young teen - but I remember the experience well (it didn't end well for me but then the pony didn't like me much, she was my friend's pony and had a "thing" about me!)

Sierraspider Tue 09-Jun-15 19:27:32

Ide definitely ride bareback rathrr than riding in a saddle that doesn't fit properly, you won't damage their back riding bareback but could riding in a saddle that doesn't fit, even with padding x

Pixel Tue 09-Jun-15 20:20:37

I had a go on dhorse bareback last year and it was a shock to the system! I used to do everything bareback and think nothing of it but that was 20 years ago and I was surprised how unsteady I felt. However, after about 10 minutes I braved a trot and it all came back to me, though I did feel much better with a neckstrap which I never used to need.
Dhorse seemed to like it, he was more forward and very responsive to every little movement so he was actually nicer to school.
I'd definitely say have a go and see how you get on. I can't see how you can do him any harm just riding him, people do gymnastics on horses' backs! smile

Gabilan Tue 09-Jun-15 20:23:44

Thanks, Sierra. The saddler who checked it is MSFC and she assured me that short term for hacking out that saddle won't damage him. It's just that it's not worth me investing in it. It's doesn't fit as well as it should when I ask him to lift through his rib cage in lateral work but I'm not going to be doing that in this saddle. I know this saddler and I know she will effectively ban riders from using saddles she thinks will do any harm! He also has a physio out regularly to monitor him.

I am going to try bareback though. Didn't do it today as I think I would have collected a small and potentially embarrassing audience but will do when the yard is a bit quieter!

Thanks for all the responses.

Gabilan Tue 09-Jun-15 20:27:00

"he was more forward and very responsive to every little movement so he was actually nicer to school"

Yes. I'm going to leave the schooling whip on the fence, have a feeling I won't need it! Neck strap is a good idea. I have ridden bareback in the last year, but on a friend's horse who is a bit of an armchair, bless him. My boy is comfy but does have big paces and a lot of movement.

TwigletFiend Wed 10-Jun-15 10:18:59

I did this yesterday on my TB.

Instantly remembered why I don't ride him bareback. It's like a bone wedgie. The pain...

Gabilan Wed 10-Jun-15 20:20:30

Well I tried it, and it was fine. I mean I wouldn't want to stay up there for 2 hours but reckon I can easily build up to 30 mins schooling. Stayed mainly in walk. Think with a neck strap I'd be tempted just to do walk to canter but the trouble is coming back down from canter. I haven't taught him canter to walk yet and I find the trot you get straight out of canter a bit elevated.

One thing I found very interesting, he finds turn on the forehand much, much easier without a saddle. I think that will become my test for trying on any new saddles - if he's comfortable doing turn on the forehand that will be a good indicator.

Slippersmum Thu 11-Jun-15 13:54:52

We used to ride bareback for days on end as kids. I look back now in wonder at my younger self I must say!! No way I could do it now. My dd and her friends do occasionally and some of them have some kind of pad which they put on the soften the experience so to speak. Don't know much about them only that my dd keeps asking for one. Don't know if that is worth a look into?

Emjones88 Sat 13-Jun-15 18:42:22

It'll be fine! Enjoy.

If I helps I'm a riding instructor and we do a bit of bareback riding every now and then. It's great for rider balance and feel. Some even have a little go a jumping! smile

Look at this too! grin
Image from 25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lvchd3wlHb1qfy1iho1_500.jpg.

Micah Sat 13-Jun-15 18:44:42

Yy, bareback is great for improving your position and seat smile

Certainly won't do any harm, unless you fall off.

Gabilan Sat 13-Jun-15 19:08:00

Well I have been told that bareback could hurt my horse because more of my weight is going on my sitting bones/ ischial tuberosity.

However, I weigh about 60kg whereas he weighs more like 670kg so I am well within his weight limit. Looking at his back after I got off, quite a lot of my weight was distributed over my thighs. He has quite a wide back and I have a narrow pelvis so it's inevitable that some weight will end up on my thighs.

I figure a half hour schooling session from time to time will improve my seat enough to counteract any extra pressure I put on him! It was interesting feeling which things he found easier without a saddle. Not going to jump without a saddle though. I'm not Alycia Burton!

Chesntoots Sun 14-Jun-15 22:04:05

I used to ride one of mine bareback quite a lot. She was bonkers and the no saddle thing was a experiment. I had the vet, back man, dentist, saddler and even Reiki to see if it helped. There was nothing physically wrong with her but I didn't want to give up with her so I tried bareback. She was brilliant, so much better. I rode her everywhere and she didn't bat an eyelid.

I also used to have a gorgeous gray Arab that I rode bareback. I thought I looked like someone off a film on this beautiful horse with my long hair streaming out behind me in canter. Right until I went from canter to trot...

Gabilan Sun 14-Jun-15 22:13:52

Yeah I must teach mine canter to walk as a direct transition. He likes saving energy so I'm sure he'll pick it up quickly. In the meantime, I'm just going to use a neck strap.

sparechange Wed 15-Jul-15 12:28:43

I used to ride mine bareback with a polypad and sursingle...

Gabilan Sun 26-Jul-15 11:40:32

Well it was useful. I worked out where I was going wrong with my lateral work. I spoke to my saddle fitter about riding bareback. It was a bit difficult to gauge her reaction but she said that bareback you have no fixed points or rigid structure so unless you are an exceptionally strong and dominant rider you won't put the horse in a position where it's uncomfortable.

Anyway, we now have a properly fitted dressage saddle which is a thing of beauty. His canter stride is about a foot longer and more uphill, he finds his transitions much easier can stay soft over his topline in his lateral work. Think I might achieve this year's goal of moving up to Novice tests. More importantly, it's lovely to know my horse is comfortable in his work.

BlueBananas Sun 26-Jul-15 11:45:46

Just came on to snigger at the title grin <insert immature emoticon here>

Gabilan Sun 26-Jul-15 12:30:41

I used to have lessons with an FBHS who would refer to the horse "giving you a place to sit on". So "riding bareback" seemed pretty mild to me.

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