Riding bareback is another name for horseback riding without a saddle. Since it lacks the stability and comfort that a saddle provides, bareback riding may prove to be far more difficult for beginners than saddled riding. However, being able to ride bareback can greatly improve your riding skills.
So, without a saddle, how do you ride a horse? Simply take off the saddle and mount a horse to ride them bareback. To remain on without a saddle, you’ll have to rely considerably more on balance and a solid core. Additionally, you must have a formed seat while riding to avoid an uncomfortable bounce on the horse’s back. Practice is the key to becoming an expert bareback horse rider!
Even though it might not be easy at first, practicing riding bareback will help you develop strong riding skills and a comfortable seat. When riding without a saddle, it may take some time to feel confident and comfortable. I wanted to share some bareback riding drills with you in this article to help you get better at it!
How Do You Ride a Horse Without a Saddle? Which Muscles Do You Use?
The day after your first bareback ride, you’ll probably feel really painful. Although riding a horse without a saddle requires the usage of muscles you are not accustomed to using, it is nevertheless necessary.
Your thighs will likely be the areas where you feel the most pain. To attempt and stay on at initially, you’ll grab most tightly with your thighs. Additionally, trying to maintain the correct leg position while bareback can cause them pain. In a saddle, we largely rely on our weight in the stirrups to maintain the correct leg position; however, when riding bareback, you must actively maintain the position.
Second, your abs or core may get sore. Your core is what maintains your equilibrium, so if it is strong, your balance is likely to be as well. As you learn the right balance when you first start riding bareback, you will tense your core much more. You won’t even notice it after a time!
Overall, bareback riding will assist you in developing the muscles necessary to improve your riding both in and out of the saddle. After you’ve been riding bareback for a long, you’ll discover that your riding skills will generally advance.
Advice for Improving Your Bareback Riding
Here are some horseback riding pointers to help you build balance so you may ride more effectively without a saddle:
Remove your stirrups from your saddle.
Remove the stirrups from your saddle during your ride as a terrific way to experience what it could be like to ride your horse bareback. Sometimes we grow to rely on our stirrups for balance on a horse without even realizing it. You are forced to rely on your balance and muscles to stay on the horse when the stirrups are removed.
Additionally, this activity will assist you in building the muscles required for bareback riding. Your inner thighs and core may be sore the following day as a result of this exercise.
Train Yourself to Ride With Your Hands by Your Side
Like stirrups, riders may come to rely on the tension on their reins to keep them balanced while mounted. This may lead to uncomfortable pulling on the horse’s face and the application of the wrong aids.
Having an experienced horse person lunge your horse while you ride them with your arms out as if you were an airplane is a terrific exercise you can undertake to enhance your balance and help you not rely on the reins. This is possible both with and without a saddle.
Due of the rider’s increased reliance on balance rather than the reins, this exercise can also aid in the development of a stronger seat.
Learn to Ride While Blindfolded to Improve Balance and Trust
The seat you use when riding bareback must match the movements of the horse; otherwise, you’ll bounce on the horse’s back and run a higher risk of falling off. Simply taking the time to feel and concentrate on how each gait of the horse feels while you are riding is one of the finest methods to improve your seat.
Lunging your horse while you ride with your eyes closed is one method to concentrate on the movement of your horse. When your sense of sight is diminished, your sense of touch will become more important. You’ll begin to sense how your seat can move with the horse’s movements.
Take a Bareback Pad with You
If riding bareback makes you feel uneasy, consider riding with a bareback pad. This is a padded pad that straps beneath your horse’s belly and crosses its back like a saddle would. Some of these pads even come with stirrups.
This bareback padding can relieve some of the saddle’s limitations while also providing security for the rider. To ride with a bareback pad, you’ll still need to develop your balance and strength, but the pad can assist create some cushion between you and the horse.
Click here to check out this bareback pad on Amazon if you’re interested in purchasing one.
Practice Turns and Transitions While Bareback Riding
The easiest technique to help you build balance and muscle when you first get on your horse without a saddle is to just take the time to walk the horse, do turns, and transition from halt to walk. If you’ve never ridden bareback before, these motions could easily make you lose your balance.
By performing these exercises regularly, you’ll gain the stability and balance you’ll need to move on to other tasks. You can do the same technique within the trot as you advance to that gait.
Advice for Maintaining Balance on a Horse Without a Saddle
You could experience a sense of impending doom when mounting a horse without a saddle. Here are some pointers for bareback riding that can help you maintain control and feel more secure:
Relax; avoid being stiff.
You can feel yourself lose your balance when you first start riding your horse bareback and tighten as a result. As a result, you can find yourself jerking the reins and painfully bouncing on your horse’s back.
When riding bareback, if you notice that you are beginning to tense up, take some time to concentrate on relaxing. When you are calm and relaxed, you can connect with your horse more effectively and have a better center of gravity.
Put weight on your heels.
Although you may have always been told to put your weight in your heels in order to prevent your foot from slipping out of the stirrup, doing so also provides you a more stable seat and center of balance. Additionally, if you start to lose your balance, it will prevent your lower leg from grasping the horse too hard.
Even when riding bareback, try putting your weight on your heels to improve your ability to properly wrap your legs around the horse’s barrel. You will be able to ride more comfortably as a result of this.
Keep riding in the appropriate position.
You shouldn’t sacrifice your riding position just because you’re riding your horse without a saddle. Whether you are in the saddle or not, your posture should remain the same when riding.
A rider may lean forward when learning to ride without a saddle in order to feel more safe on the horse. Since the saddle is not present, their legs may potentially swing forward. Effective communication with your horse can be more challenging if you are riding incorrectly.
You should still sit up straight, with your shoulders back and your legs placed beneath your hips, when riding bareback. It will be simpler to keep on if you are riding in the proper position because you are accustomed to using these specific muscles for riding.
Adjust Your Seat to the Horse’s Rhythm
Riding bareback makes it much easier to feel when you’re bouncing awkwardly on your horse’s back because there is nothing between you and the animal. Both you and your horse can feel uncomfortable as a result.
The movement of your seat can be used to start speaking with your horse when you are riding bareback. Moving your seat in time with the horse’s movements is one of the primary ways to interact with your horse while also reducing any uncomfortable bouncing on the horse’s back.
Consider how the movements of the horse feel under you. At a walk, you’ll notice that both the horse’s back and your hips will sway in opposite directions. Your hips will bob up and down with the horse’s back as it trots.
Moving your seat in sync with your horse’s motion will not only encourage your horse to move more naturally, but it will also result in a much more relaxing and smooth ride.
Check out our article 10 Tips to Improve Your Seat on a Horse: Easy Beginner’s Guide for more information on how to do so.
Follow Your Own Pace
The best course of action if you want to become used to riding bareback is to advance at a pace that seems natural to you. Start out by walking, circling, and honing your stop-to-walk transitions. Once you feel at ease doing this, progress to a trot and finally a canter. Before moving on to the next level, this will assist you in gaining the balance you require.
Rushing your bareback riding skills could result in a bad experience for both you and your horse. The only way to improve, though, is to practice! You can always give something a try, and if it doesn’t feel right, go back and go over the fundamentals.
It’s time to try riding your horse bareback while leaving your saddle in the tack room. Enjoy yourself and luck!