Bareback riding - good or bad?

Joined
4 April 2015
Messages
40
Location
England
I just wanted to get some opinions on whether riding bareback is more harm than good? My boy only has two 30-45 minute walk/trot rides per week and whilst we are struggling to find a saddle to fit him, we have been riding bareback instead. Will this do him any harm? I am going to be buying a barefoot physio bareback pad (no stirrups and a v-shaped girthing system) so wondered if this would have much benefit to him?
 

bouncing_ball

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Joined
30 October 2012
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535
I think it depends on his conformation, how big / heavy rider is / how much back muscle horse has etc.

I think can be great or harmful depending on these factors.

You will be concentrating your weight more on horse's back / spine directly. If has good topline and back muscle or you aren't heavy should be fine.

Try it and see what horse thinks and whether way of going better or worse.

I have a best friend bareback pad, with suede seat and rings on the front to attach a grab strap!!
 
Joined
4 April 2015
Messages
40
Location
England
I think it depends on his conformation, how big / heavy rider is / how much back muscle horse has etc.

I think can be great or harmful depending on these factors.

You will be concentrating your weight more on horse's back / spine directly. If has good topline and back muscle or you aren't heavy should be fine.

Try it and see what horse thinks and whether way of going better or worse.

I have a best friend bareback pad, with suede seat and rings on the front to attach a grab strap!!
He doesn’t have the best back muscle which was why I was looking to get a pad for a bit more shock absorption. He’s a 15.3hh horse and is a cob type and both me and his other rider only weigh about 60kg I would say. We are both good riders so it’s not as if we’d be bouncing around all over the place if you know what I mean!
 

Skib

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Joined
6 March 2011
Messages
671
Location
London
My revered RI gives bareback lessons. She told me that a boney slim rider should not ride bareback on a bony slim TB. Both horse and rider should have some fleshy padding.
My mentor on bare back is Pony Boy, "Horse Follow Closely; Native American Horsemanship". and he is not enthusiastic about bareback pads.
 

Cortez

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Joined
17 January 2009
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10,125
Location
Ireland
Saddles were invented for a reason, in every horse riding culture throughout the world, and it wasn't just for the rider's comfort. The occasional pootle about bareback is fun and relaxing for both horse and rider, but direct pressure on the horse's spine will cause long term damage if carried on for long periods. This is why saddles have a channel with pads on either side of the horse's spine. Riding bareback is also not particularly good for the rider's position either, although it is great for balance and feel, it will cause the rider to grip rather than sit with the back and legs in alignment.

Even the Native American horse cultures quickly adopted the saddle.
 

Lillian_paddington

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Joined
6 January 2019
Messages
275
I think it depends a lot on the way you ride. I love doing bareback, before I got my new jump saddle I did most of my jumping bareback for a few months (his old gp was not a great fit). But he is uncomfortable if I sit the way I would usually in a saddle - with my seatbones underneath me. My theory is they dig in to his back too much. So my inner thigh is engaged the whole time to spread my weight across them and take pressure off his spine - it does mean I’m in a more forward seat than ideal.
I wouldn’t do it on a horse that didn’t have a good topline or that didn’t know how to carry itself as I think it is tempting for them to hollow away from the odd pressure.
Bareback pad sounds like a good idea, a couple of my friends have them and the ponies are comfortable in them. They also look very comfortable for the rider (they have the very thick sheepskin types). Hope you find something that suits you both
 
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