It's important to sit squarely on the horse's back. Riding bareback will make you very aware of your seat bones and whether your weight is evenly balanced or not. Don't worry about maintaining a picture perfect leg position, doing so will cause tenseness and gripping. Barakat advises stabilizing yourself with your thighs and knees, but leaving the lower leg loose.
If you need to, grab a handful of mane. As Barakat says, "Riding bareback is why God gave horses manes". She also advises putting a stirrup leather or other strap around the neck, if you happen to be riding a horse with a roached or hogged mane.
Annapolis has a big bouncy trot and I was apprehensive at the prospect of getting bounced right off, but as you can see, we didn't fare too badly. In the previous photo you can see he has a long section of mane that falls to the left and in this photo I appear to be leaning forward a little and attempting to unravel his mane from the reins.
I'm sitting up straighter in this photograph, and my leg is hanging nice and loose. Annapolis has come above the bit, but he's still round and comfortable and, to be honest, having him on the bit wasn't my main concern during this session!
By this time, I was getting the hang of riding bareback. Remember, this is the first time in eight years that I have tried this. If I recall, the last time I tried, Annapolis (then a sprightly 13 year old) bucked.
It's important to be completely comfortable with one pace before moving up to the next. Which brings us to the canter....
Next page Canter On