I've never been particularly comfortable riding bareback, not only because my horse has a spine and withers like a relief map of the Himalayas, but because my sense of balance seems to leave me without the security of a saddle. However, events combined in recent weeks to encourage me to try riding my horse bareback for the first time in about eight years.
First of all, there had been a couple of discussions in the Horses forum about the benefits of riding au naturel and second, one day when I got to the barn, a distance of twenty miles from my home, I discovered I'd left my saddlepads hanging out to dry on the balcony railing. Rather than disappoint Amanda, who had accompanied me to the barn that day, I jokingly suggested we try riding bareback. Although I wasn't entirely serious after a bit of thought we decided to give it a try.
Coincidentally, an article written by Christine Barakat appeared in the July, 2000 issue of Equus magazine entitled "Riding Bareback to Ride Better" which further inspired me to go through with it. Once the gauntlet has been thrown down, so to speak, I can usually be relied upon to rise to the challenge.
One thing I should point out here is that my elderly Thoroughbred gelding, Annapolis, is 16.2 hands high. So the first challenge was simply to get on board! Since Amanda was manning the digital camera, I decided to opt for the "climb up the fence" method. Not particularly elegant, as you can see from the photograph below (especially when the horse steps away at the wrong moment), but effective. My days of vaulting lythely onto a horse's back are long gone.
Other methods of getting on a horse without the benefit of a saddle and stirrups are to have someone give you a leg up or to hop on from the bed of a truck or other convenient perch.
The reasons for riding bareback are many, says Barakat, and include balance, feel, finesse, confidence and connection. As soon as I was on board, I became aware of the second of those points. I could immediately feel Annapolis' spine! But after a moment, even just at a standstill, I was able to feel whether I was in balance or had more weight on one seatbone or the other and was able to adjust my position.
Barakat advises to sit on the widest, most comfortable part of your rear. I've got plenty of padding there, so that part wasn't difficult. She also explains that this deeper seat tends to bring your legs further forward than they would be in a saddle, but that this is normal. Looking at the photo to the right, my position doesn't look too bad. At least I'm not perching on my crotch, which Barakat says is a no-no.
The rider should sit on the fleshy part - no problem here! |
The next challenge was going to be moving....
Next page Part 2 - On the Move Page 1, 2 , 3.