Riding bareback. It’s something I’ve done so little of throughout the 4 years Alfie and I have been together. For those that don’t know what bareback riding is, it’s where you ride the horse without a saddle. You can either ride with a bareback pad or without one, I prefer the pad.
Riding bareback has a lot of benefits. It forces you to use your seat for balance. There’s no stirrups so your body has to compensate for that. You can feel the actual movement of the horse which gives you a better understanding of how your horse moves.
The last time I rode bareback was about a year ago and it didn’t go very well. Alfie tends to get bored when we ride bareback so the last time we did he tried to lay down…like a camel lol. I remember how it felt the last time I was bareback, my seat wasn’t good, my leg strength wasn’t good, I was like a sack of potatoes, with very little core strength. My best riding buddy Heidi has always encouraged me to ride bareback more, but I never felt truly comfortable or secure until today.
I get Alfie out of his field, and as we are walking to the barn I tell him he’s in for a treat, no saddle today in this heat! He seems more excited about his lunch lol. He eats his hydro hay and I bring him into the grooming stall. I then drag out my barely used bareback pad. As I put it on him, the look he gives me is one of confusion. I know Alfie, it’s been a long time lol.
I get to the mounting block and because I’m going bareback I ask my trainer to just hold him for me. I get on him and we join my friend Heidi and her horse Cayman (Alfie’s buddy) in the arena.
If you didn’t know, horses are heard animals, meaning they like to hang out in groups. Cayman is Alfie’s field mate so he is naturally gravitating towards him, but that’s not the way we are going lol. The first thing that I notice is despite not having a saddle, I felt like I was sitting in one. I am perfectly balanced. I am holding myself up. I am secure. I am not scared. My trainer Kari tells me my seat is beautiful. Everything about my body position is perfect. Holy crap. Like really wow!!
We start our lesson and again because of the heat, everything is at a walk today. We work on our circles, our shoulder in, our haunches out, we even did our figure 8s and some leg yielding. And I did it all without having to use my dressage whip (stick of influence or SOI as I like to refer to it as. ) At one point Heidi and Cayman left the arena and Alfie wasn’t happy. He brought out his stop and back up move which not so long ago used to scare me, but not anymore. I was able to steer him and push him forward with my seat. We also had amazing haults today.
It was so extremely beneficial to ride bareback today. Not only was it more pleasant for Alfie in this crazy heat, but I proved to myself just how good of a rider I have become. We ended our day with a second lunch of hydro hay and a nap. I am no longer afraid of riding bareback. ❤️🐴