View Full Version : bareback as a teaching method?
14th Sep 1999, 09:10 PM
I just thought I'd like to get response from some riders on this question. There's a lady at our stable who swears that learning to ride bareback is very effective and a lot quicker than learning with saddle. Anyone with any experience in this? When I say learning to ride I mean being comfortable at walk, trot (sitting and rising)and canter and jumping and steering the horse
14th Sep 1999, 10:17 PM
I learn't to ride bareback. Back in those days we didn't have a saddle!! I rode our shetland pony bareback and with just an adjusted headcoller for over a year until we got a proper saddle. It has helped me so much with my confidence and position in the saddle. I can now jump cross country without a saddle, although saddles are comfy! Riding bareback is dangerous for an inexperienced person to do on there own. I learn't on my own riding in a field in the middle of no where. Also I have only fallen off once, and I landed on my feet (if you exclude the time the horse rolled on me in the lake!!) Learn bareback, it gives you so much confidence.
14th Sep 1999, 11:28 PM
I learnt to ride bare back, and found it helped with so many things - I even used to go to pony club and jump without a saddle!
It helped with my position, and riding bare back really lets you feel the horse, and helps with balance.
Also, if something happens, and you fall, you are not going to risk getting caught and dragged by the stirrup, and it is easier to "bail off " if all else fails!
Riding bare back also gives you a good deep seat when you do use a saddle, and I still ride bare back and without stirrups to help with seat and position now.
I don't know if it is wise for just anyone to ride bare back though - I was lucky to have good balance and did not fall off - I also had no fear or nerves - I was so happy to be riding that falling off never entered my head - this is not the case for everyone, and not everyone moves with the horse as they should to keep them secure, this takes time to learn sometimes, and if a beginner had some bad falls for the sake of not having a saddle, then it would be a very bad thing.
14th Sep 1999, 11:29 PM
Oh, and you can't really perform rising trot without a saddle! :)
15th Sep 1999, 09:16 AM
Clare and Kitty thanks for your response. I'm still a beginner,riding less than six months,but I do feel secure on the horse and I'm curious about this method. I might be trying this on Saturday so I'll let you know how it goes.
15th Sep 1999, 01:12 PM
I think that there are some advantages to trying bareback; it should help with feel and balance (because you have to!). I would recommend trying bareback to anyone with a little experience (unless their horse is very high withered! Ouch! :().
However, I certainly would't for a beginner; it can be very easy to come off if your balance fails, and beginnners don't have balance.
16th Sep 1999, 04:19 AM
Bareback definitely depends on the horse. You need a nicely rounded and well-padded back with as little wither as possible and a good thick mane to grab. Avoid skinny types (ouch), anything likely to shy or buck, or horses that have horrible trots (incredibly painful!)On a comfy horse it's great fun and really helps you to feel the movement, but your chances of falling off do escalate! I remember sliding off a cantering cob but refusing to fall off completely, I ended up hanging on upside down around his neck, with my ankles crossed over his withers... not a pleasant position I can tell you!
16th Sep 1999, 04:41 AM
Riding bareback can be a good way to get a natural position on a horse as the saddle isn't there to get in the way.
It can be dangerous though as there is much less to grip onto in case of disaster! make sure the horse you ride is VERY sensible. When I got on my horse to try barebacking it (which was on areflection a really stupid thing to do), she panicked and galloped off bucking. I slowly slid down her back till I was sitting on her bottom beforefalling off the back. Apparently it was very funny to watch, but ihad a sore bottom for quite a while afterwards!
Where I learned to ride in france, we did a lot of bareback riding on the ponies which was great fun and certainly helped us improve our balance and confidence.
if the school you are at has sensible horse that look comfy to sit on and have done bareback before, give it a go, if not i wouldn't!
16th Sep 1999, 08:14 PM
Thanks again for your interesting replies. Sarah, I know any fall is not fun, but I must admit I'm still laughing from reading your post! Just some more info on what I'm considering- These bareback sessions are set up very safely. At the beginning each horse and rider has a leader and two walkers on either side. This lady (who refuses to call herself an instructor)has thirty years experience and is very enthusiastic and supportive. I have always had trouble adjusting stirrup lengths so the idea of dispensing with them is appealing.
19th Sep 1999, 10:31 AM
Well, it was a totally different experience! Not just the fact that we were riding bareback but the whole feel of the riding session was so relaxing. All I did was walk my horse around the arena over trotting poles and in between pylons. It was a lot more comfortable than I thought it would be but I may change my mind after we start trotting! Janet (the instructor) says we're not riding to compete, we're riding for fun. This suits me just fine as I'm a 40 year old Mom learning along with my kids. Bye for now, Susan
11th Oct 1999, 12:27 AM
I am a 67 year old female learning to ride for the first time. I have had two lessons, so far, both bareback. Second lesson was trotting and I was scared to death I was going to fall off! Now my confidence and interest is approaching zero. Help! :(
11th Oct 1999, 12:50 AM
oh, one more thing... I've read and re-read the instructions how to to the "sitting trot" which I think is probably necessary to know in order to stay on at the trot bareback. I'm not sure I understand. Can someone who's learned how to do it explain it to me, please? Remember, I'm a total and complete novice. :(
11th Oct 1999, 01:11 AM
It is hard to describe, but you actually have to absorb the movements of the horse so that you maintain balance and stay in balance with the horse - it is all down to a sense of timing, balance and using the back and stomach so that they move with the horse.
If I may suggest something, I would say to learn with a saddle. Bareback is not always for everyone, especially learners, and it is not worth putting yourself off before you get properly started. Have some lessons using a saddle, and see how you like it - if you can learn to sit to the trot using a saddle, then you will be well on your way to understanding the movements you need to use to stay in balance bareback.
I hope this helps you, but it is so difficult to describe !
11th Oct 1999, 01:47 AM
Oh, I have just thought - maybe it would help if you could watch someone else doing it?
That is how I learnt, but watching others and then trying it - it is hard to learn something like this from books, as it is really all about that elusive "feel".
Sitting trot is quite hard to learn and I think most riders learn rising trot first, as this will give you a feel for the timing and motion of the horse in trot, and then you can try sitting for a few strides at a time - I am sure that this would be easier for you, and you can keep at it until you can sit for as long as you wish, and you should then find it a lot easier to stay on bareback at a trot!
11th Oct 1999, 06:10 AM
I absolutely could not imagine trying to sit to the trot with no saddle on some of the horses I ride! I would be a complete mess and probably in pain (I'm new too :))! I definitely suggest learning the sitting trot with a saddle, and if possible, have a lunge lesson. :)
11th Oct 1999, 10:13 AM
Thank you both for your prompt replies! My next lesson is on Thursday and my instructor says she expects me to trot all around the round training pen BY MYSELF at least once. I am absolutely terrified! I haven't the slightest confidence that I will be able to stay on!
I found another web site that also explained the sitting trot. It talked about the "classical seat" which sounds like having the two bones under your rearend in the saddle (or on the horse when riding bareback) as well as your pubic bone area. Kind of a three-way 'seat'. Said you would know when you've got it right by sitting on the horse (while it's standing still) and then spreading your legs away from each side of the horse as far as you can. Apparently that puts your pelvis and back in the correct position.(?) Then just bring your legs back to the sides of the horse, without changing the position of your pelvis and back, and you got it!
11th Oct 1999, 10:19 AM
oh, I almost forgot. I rode a Missouri Fox Trotter about a month ago (with a saddle and everything else) for about an 90 minutes. I rode with the breeder and his family (the grandchildren were riding bareback). We live in the mountains here in Colorado (USA) and I had no trouble at all going up and down the sides of steep hills, crossing small washouts, etc. Also did some Slow Walking, Fox Trotting, Fast Walking, and occasionally urged her a little too much and went into a Canter.
Stayed on the whole time (had the horn of the Western saddle to hang onto when I felt uneasy) and had a lot of fun.
Bareback is very different, tho!
12th Oct 1999, 04:38 AM
Hi Jan2: I think I would have felt very insecure as a brand new rider riding bareback. I have been having mostly private lessons for about five months (with saddle) and I do feel very comfortable on a horse. I must stress that our bareback sessions involve each horse being on a lead rope as well as having a side walker on each side. In addition, we are shown the emergency dismount, so "bailing out" is possible. Only when the rider feels comfortable are they encouraged to go on their own. I expected the trot to be difficult to sit but my instructor told me to relax my stomach and that really worked for me. I know it may be hard to relax those muscles if you are tense but they will allow your pelvis to absorb the movement of the horse. I also think I was on a smooth horse. Good luck with your next lesson.
12th Oct 1999, 07:24 AM
Hi Susan, Thanks for the info! Yes, I feel *very* insecure bareback, even when I grab a buncha mane to hang onto. :(
My lessons are private also. There's no one there but my instructor and me. No saddle so far tho. Just two bareback lessons. First one on the lunge line. Second one by myself (with the instructor standing in the middle of the ring telling me what to do next).
I like the idea of "side walkers". Do they keep up ok when you're trotting your horse?
How do you do an "emergency dismount"?
Relaxing the stomach muscles, eh? Okay, I'll give it a try but I betcha it'll be hard to do when I'm scared to death!
13th Oct 1999, 09:07 PM
i know the conversation has tended more towards bareback riding, but i just thought i'd mention that i actually *love* sitting to the trot without stirrups. it really gives me much more of a feel for the horse's motion, as well as makes me more aware of my position as a whole, and deepens my seat tremendously! :)
in fact, sitting to the trot without using stirrups was the *only* way i figured out how to use Heather's techniques for moving with the motion of the horse, which i thought was just about the coolest thing ever.
i agree that *learning* to sit to the trot for the first time without a saddle can be a harrowing experience at best, but the "feeling" of it, once you've ridden a bunch, helps amazingly. the "relaxing the stomach muscles" thing really does help, too... but maybe it's more helpful to think of relaxing your lower back? try this: take a deep breath, and while you let it out, think of your spine as a pile of children's building blocks. imagine one block falling into place on top of the next as you exhale, which will also place your shoulders a bit "back", and hopefully into alignment with your spine. visualize the blocks falling gradually into place, and when thy are stacked on top of one another to form your whole spine, think of them as a VERY flexible unit that can give and take with the motion of the horse's back.
i don't know if this seems too "hoky", but it helps me bring everything into place, and get more of a feel for things. :)
14th Oct 1999, 09:08 AM
Dear Jan: I'll try and answer some of your questions- but to all the horse people out there feel free to jump in... The side walkers need to be prepared to jog to keep up when you are trotting. Do you have a martingale or a neck strap to hold? That may make you feel more secure. I think there is more than one way to do an emergency dismount(is it on this web site?) but the idea is to get off your horse quickly and land controlled on your feet. We first lie in the classic "dead cowboy" position,slung on our stomach across the horses back, let the horse take a few steps and then slide slowly off so we land on our feet. Apparently, after practise this can be done at any gait! I must admit I'm a bit doubtful of this. Re: relaxing your stomach. Get on a chair with swivel wheels and face sideways to a mirror. Put your feet on the floor,keep your back straight and locked and rock the chair back and forth about six inches slowly. Your shoulders will rock back and forth to absorb the movement. This is not what you want to do on a horse. Now do the same thing but this time rock the chair by moving your pelvis back and forth and allowing your lower spine to move in and out. Check your shoulders, they should be able to be still, all the movement is from the waist down. Hope this was helpful, Susan B.
15th Oct 1999, 10:47 PM
Sitting to the trot without stirrups sounds much easier (and less scary!) :) to me. I could hold onto the saddle horn! }:>
15th Oct 1999, 10:49 PM
Thanks for the hints about "rocking"! I have a lesson today. Gonna try it out! :)
18th Oct 1999, 09:38 AM
Well, I had my last bareback riding lesson. I still didn't do well with the "sitting trot" UNTIL I asked my instructor to puleeeeez get on the bloody horse and SHOW me how it's doner! She did, then I did, and I did fine!
WHEW! I'm sure glad THAT's over! :) Onward and upward to the SADDLE!
vBulletin® v3.8.4, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.