Back to Basics: Riding Bareback



As the weather’s been getting warmer, I find that I’ve been riding bareback almost every ride. For those of you that don’t know, riding bareback is just riding without a saddle. The first time was just me being time-conscious, wanting to spend as much time actually riding as possible, but after that one ride I’ve been thoroughly enjoying riding without a saddle even though he’s been shedding like a monster (as most horses tend to do this time of year). Moose and I have also been using the outdoor arena to soak up every minute of good weather that we can, and these two things combined have really allowed me to get back to the basics of riding and having fun.

Obviously when riding bareback it’s important to have strong legs. You have to grip without being tense, relax without being too loose…it’s a lot to achieve, same as in the saddle. As important as having a good seat and leg is, instead of making myself have perfect form, I allow myself some freedom and flexibility to just enjoy my ride. Believe it or not, I now find myself riding better both in the saddle and bareback while staying relaxed. I no longer feel the need to make constant small corrections in my form and therefore have freed up my mind during the ride to focus more on having fun and being in the moment. My horse has been enjoying it, too. It’s allowing him to stretch out and have more freedom of movement, which in turn is allowing him to relax while still staying strong. He also doesn’t mind not having the extra weight!

Riding bareback has given me and my horse the opportunity to strengthen our bond by strengthening and reinforcing our trust in one another. I trust him to behave himself and he trusts me not to fall off! We’ve gotten to relax and have fun together again, like it was before all we focused on was training. Part of why I started moving away from the more training-focused rides is because Moose is twenty years old now and has Cushing’s disease so I want to spend as much time as possible doing the things we love. Not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of good, healthy rides in front of him, I just figure that we should enjoy each other’s company while we have the time.

I think it’s important to go back to basics when it comes to things as complex as riding. We can get so wrapped up in the details that we forget why we started in the first place: because we enjoy it and it makes us happy. It’s fulfilling to ride and spend time around horses. As much as you should take training and riding seriously, you should also make time to return to the things that made you fall in love with horses. Appreciate that you have a horse and the opportunity to ride because many people wish that they could but can’t for one reason or another. Let yourself have fun with your horse again and go back to the simple things that you both enjoy.

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