Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ha! I did it!

I did it! And I didn't die!

Okay, so I didn't think I would DIE, but something has kept me from riding my own horse bareback for 16 months. Yes, I know we're sans saddle in my avatar and side-bar pics. That was the first and last time I attempted it and those are pretty much the only two pictures that don't look like he hates me. Here are two examples that show how much fun we were NOT having on that day in October '08:


Compare this one to my avatar.....

I'm not really sure it took me so long to try it again. I kept telling myself that I should ride bareback more often since it is one of the many ways to become a better rider. I kept telling myself to do it but somehow kept on not actually doing it. Then I realized that I was afraid to do it but I could not rationalize that fear, and believe me: I am AWESOME at rationalizing my fear!!! So somehow I talked myself into doing it today. And it was just fine!

He stood perfectly still for me (something I absolutely DEMAND he learn to do) on a loose rein while I mounted and tried to get myself situated. I can clearly see his fat deposits when I'm up there without a saddle to hide it! I couldn't really ride up close to his withers since I don't have a pad - ouch - but I found a comfy enough seat. I asked him to lift his back and WOW did I feel the change in his back muscles and spine!!! He didn't want to keep it there and I wonder if having my weight concentrated over one area rather than spread out on the bars of the saddle makes lifting his back uncomfortable. He wasn't very good about keeping his neck flat and relaxed, but I wasn't being very good about monitoring since I was too busy monitoring my balance and how weird it felt not having a saddle underneath me. I don't know how long it's been since I rode a horse truly bareback. It might be since my 4-H days! I walk-jog-loped in both directions and did a few pivots but not much else. So it's done. We've done some bareback.
I will never feel as comfortable bareback as with a saddle, but I was relieved that I could ride all three gaits and I didn't lose my balance and scare myself, nor did I have to ask him to stop or grab mane or bounce on him. It was pretty easy. The last horse I rode bareback (with pad) was my dear Banee last summer. She is an interesting case because she is so sensitive that I learned to ride nearly without using my legs. Any leg pressure she takes as a cue to do something fancy. You want a lead change? Just nudge her. Another one? Nudge her with the other leg. She would do tempi changes! So when riding bareback, you have to be careful. If you close your legs for balance she goes faster or does something a lead change...or three. But today with Junior I was able to close my legs around him and that was very helpful and quite comfortable. If I had had a pad to cover his withers It would have been even nicer. He was a very good boy.

I was thinking to myself about how the Native Peoples (and most likely the Europeans and Asians, too) started riding bareback. As impressive as it is to watch those historical re-enactors gallop bareback while shooting a bow, I also know that they used saddles when appropriate. Just like any technology - if they had had it, they would have used it. So I shall not feel too badly about using my saddle, but I will remember it is a saddle and not an easy-chair.

I start my western lessons back up tomorrow and Junior and I will be starting SHOWMANSHIP lessons soon! This will be interesting!


  1. I need to do that to, there is nothing like riding bareback. The saddle can make you lose your sensitivity.

    and it's such a confidence builder! Conrats!

  2. Hey, you did it - that's great! I pretty much learned to ride bareback, and only rode bareback until I was in my late teens, and it's wonderful! Don't do it now - Dawn is a little too agile and unpredictable and Maisie is just too tall.

  3. As I was reading your post, I was thinking that I was going to note that I love riding bareback... but then you said the word "showmanship" and I REALLY love showmanship! LOVE IT!

    I think you'll enjoy the lessons. To me, there's just something wonderful about being so in tune with your horse, when you're not riding. A good showmanship pattern is just lovely in my opinion. Oh, but don't get me started... I'll ramble and everyone will think I'm crazy!

    I can't wait to hear how they go!

  4. Good for you! A good start to 2010, eh? I wish I could do it more often, and I might, since hassling with the saddle in the winter seems like too much for me so as a result I don't ride. I agree, it really helps with balance. I am actually really impressed that you loped, too! I have walked and jogged, but I am not ready to attempt that bareback yet! :)

  5. Good for you! And you walked/jogged/loped too! Cool...

    I've never ridden my current horse bareback and I've had him for about 18 months as well! My balance is pretty crappy, so I've been telling myself I would wait until there was some snow to pad my landing if I came off...

    I told myself yesterday was the day to try bareback, but chickened out and rode with the saddle - good thing too, because Mr. was bucking and messing around a bit!

  6. Wow! Very cool. I used to ride (and show) bareback all the time. Now I barely ever ride it, and when I do I can hardly relax. I've actually been thinking about forcing myself to do it regularly to improve my seat. Glad it went so smoothly for you (and by the way, I love your sidebar pic! You and Junior both look so pretty)

  7. good for you! riding bareback is so much fun and a great way to keep your butt warm in the winter...i prefer it with a bareback saddle pad, it prevents slipping...

  8. As always, you entertain me with your storytelling...DEMON PONY! ;-)

    Keep at it, girl. I'm sure you'll enjoy the lessons. Though, the girl I remember doesn't need to learn about showmanship. The horse maybe, but not you. ;-)

  9. Ha! Yes, Josh, I'm sure in 5th grade that was true, but the older one gets the more one realizes just how NOT special one is. Thanks for the smile, though!