Bareback
 
 

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Bareback

This is a discussion on Bareback within the Endurance Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Ridingbacedack
  • Treeless bareback saddle

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    06-13-2014, 02:03 PM
  #1
Weanling
Bareback

From what I've gathered, it has been done but is warned against by many due to lack of weight dispersal. But let me throw this out there... What if you used a bareback pad that was well cushioned and had a channel, with foam inserts on the sides much like a treeless saddle? What if the rider is a lightweight and sits easily? Could it be done comfortably for the horse?

I ask because I do not think my western saddle fits my horse. The last two times I have put it on him he has pinned his ears, he never does that and is an amiable horse. I am not willing to sell my western saddle as it was my dads who passed away, and although I am trying to sell my English saddle in the mean time I don't have much except for a Best Friends bareback pad. I don't want to sore my horse but I don't want to put a halt to our conditioning either because who knows how long til I can get another saddle? And even if that one will fit or not; how many will I need to go through? However if that's what must be done I will for his sake.
     
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    06-13-2014, 02:16 PM
  #2
Foal
I never knew that riding bareback caused a horse pain. I have rode my horse bareback before and she never gave me any trouble. However, I use a bareback saddle. It is very thick with with fur on both sides and it also has cotton filling on the inside. It is much like a saddle, for one it has wooden stirrups and it has a strap at the top you can use as a horn... Maybe look into one of those and see if that helps your horse any? My horse Dixie has never minded my bareback saddle or my western saddle. I agree with you about buying a new saddle, because they can be very expensive especially if it does not solve your problem. I would have my vet come out and do a check up, he or she could tell you if the horse is sore and could probable even tell you if the saddle is to small for your horse. I hope this helped. I posted a picture of what my bareback saddle looks like.

     
    06-13-2014, 03:19 PM
  #3
Trained
I have ridden bareback my entire life and still do often. The mare that I absolutely tore around on for years and years bareback (I literally cannot remember putting a saddle on her to ride from the time she was 13 until her death) lived to be 30 and never had a back problem in the slightest. The weight dispersal may not be equal to that of a saddle, in fact, I'm sure it's not, but if you pay attention to your horse you should be able to tell if you are bothering them bareback. Frankly, my gelding is a butt head and there is no way I could ride him bareback if it was painful to him.

Personally, I have found that horses with developed back muscles tend to be fine as long as the rider is not too heavy and is properly balanced. Horses with weaker back muscles (not just narrow type) seem to be less comfortable bareback.

Please be careful using bareback "saddles" too, they can be very prone to slipping.
     
    06-13-2014, 05:56 PM
  #4
Weanling
I always rode my old horse bareback unless we were going for a long ride where I needed saddle bags. I don't know that he ever became sore, definitely not unwilling, from it. He was such a wonderful horse and I miss him greatly.

But my query is not really about bareback riding in general but riding bareback either conditioning or actually racing in endurance. There is a huge difference between 50 miles (or more) and a quick jaunt on the local trails. I am very comfortable and secure in my bareback pad, but if it would help for longer or more demanding rides I could obtain a pad to go underneath it with inserts on the sides to help alleviate spinal pressure and create a "channel" of sorts. I don't plan on entirely riding bareback forever, but I'm not sure how long it will be til I can buy a new saddle. I am 130 lbs (trying to lose 15, I am a slight built person and am a bit overweight for me) and sit lightly. My horse is an Appendix, and he does not have much at all in the form of top line since he wasn't worked prior to me buying him a little over a month ago. He also has a prominent wither, and spine isn't too bad but you can see it. He's definitely not underweight, just lacks conditioning though I have been working on it. I do think his saddle does not fit right from his attitude lately and the marks on my pad show lighter areas after his shoulder and along the side of his back, but contact is more noticeable in shoulders and in the back. I think the bars are not the right angle. However I've tried many saddles on him and am really considering treeless, I know it doesn't work for all horses but as long as it fit over his withers I think it would be a better option than many treed saddles. I just don't have the resources to buy a custom saddle or go through a ton of them just to fit.
     
    06-13-2014, 06:05 PM
  #5
Trained
Oh definitely a big difference there, I mean, I would put on 10-15 miles bareback pretty regularly as a kid, but not 50!

You know, when I got my gelding I ended up getting a treeless saddle for him because I could not find a saddle he was comfortable in for any sort of riding. Now almost seven years later he is comfortable wearing other normal treed saddles, although I still use my treeless for the most part. I think he just needed to grow up, so to speak in terms of his body. He is much bulkier than he was when I got him. So treeless might be a good option for awhile, at least until he gets into better condition. Maybe do a search for endurance treeless saddles?
     
    06-14-2014, 06:11 AM
  #6
Foal
I have basically been forced to ride bareback since '05 due to RA twisting my feet. Saddles are unbearable for long rides when you're unable to use stirrups at all :)

I use a very simple bareback pad for training, just to keep horse sweat off of me. I've done ALL of my endurance rides (LDs and 50s) bareback without issue.

I read an article written by a veterinarian concerning weight distribution of bareback vs saddles. Bb riders are constantly shifting and during trot/canter weight distributes all along thighs as rider naturally squeezes and lifts pelvis off horse... whereas in a saddle pressures are fixed and unmoving. In his study, a good bareback rider creates fewer pressure points than a saddled rider.

My horses have never gotten back sore - even after fifty miles when I weighed my heaviest. Footsore yes - back sore no :)

Now, for safety I recommend removing stirrups on bareback pads - even for non disabled riders. I even teach my riding students bareback for first eight weeks. No stirrups allowed as they must develop seat and balance.
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    06-14-2014, 05:43 PM
  #7
Weanling
That's what I wanted to hear 2scicrazed. That's so awesome to hear that despite your "disability" you can still do what you love - successfully! I actually prefer to ride bareback over a saddle. Though my horse can be a little feisty and spook at imaginary monsters I guess I will just have to ride better. I will try riding him today in the pad just in the arena and see how he likes it. Actually he really doesn't spook at much but has more the past few rides which is also when he started pinning his ears when the saddle went on, possibly related.

It would be awesome if I could just ride bareback and not even have to worry about a saddle. I am still going to try and sell my English and then look around but if we do well without one I won't be too pressured! What kind of pad do you use?

This is mine:

Western Bareback Pad

I love it! It has such a nice grippy suede top, a water bottle holder and a Velcro pouch on the other side. It is very cushy and secure feeling, like riding on a couch pillow. Few questions. The underside is a pimple type neoprene, and it doesn't really lay "flat". Should I put a simple wool blanket or something else underneath? Also the girth straps are nylon, could I put a sort of fleece cover over them for comfort? I'd worry about them maybe rubbing after a long ride. The girth is also made of the same neoprene type material as the under side of the pad, should I make a sheepskin or some other kind of cover for that?
     
    06-14-2014, 06:10 PM
  #8
Showing
Jen, you have to also consider that you (and I) have spent years riding our horses around bareback. Like you said, often no more than 10-15 miles at a time, but spread that out to several times a week over a course of years and that adds up to a lot of bareback riding time.

OP, if I understand you correctly, you're mainly wanting to do this bareback only until you are able to get a saddle that fits, correct?

IMHO, if your horse is healthy with a strong back, then there is absolutely no reason you can't do 50 mile training sessions. I'm assuming you don't cover all 50 every day, right? Go for it, your horse will tell you if it starts to get uncomfortable.

The most important thing to remember is to make sure your horse is working properly through his back. If he's running around hollowed out, then it will be much harder on him.
     
    06-14-2014, 06:50 PM
  #9
Weanling
Originally I was wanting to just ride bareback until I could find a saddle that fits as I've always been warned about the dangers of soring their back... but honestly if he ends up going much better in the pad and doesn't sore, why bother? I probably still will for packing gear along on camping trips but riding bareback all the time is just fine by me and I actually enjoy it more than with a saddle.

I'm a green bean endurance rider. I just bought my horse over a month ago and have begun conditioning him, I ride on average four times a week and we will go anywhere from 4 to 9 miles per ride. Mostly trotting but walking thrown in, we will go faster on short rides and do half and half or so on longer ones. In three months I go to my first LD ride (a 25 mile) and want to be prepared as possible with a happy, healthy horse. I will do that distance once before the ride to see how he handles it, but most of my training rides are much shorter.

A lot depends on how he reacts to riding bareback. He has been treated his life as a crazy barrel horse, he was ridden in a huge "jawbreaker" and when I first rode him (a snaffle at that point, different owner!) he was so anxious and hyped I got him to walk maybe three times. Now a month later I ride him on a loose rein in a side pull, the bit made him nervous and he is so much more relaxed now. He got some of that fire from the TB side of him and he will let you know when something is bothering him. So far, less is more with him and I'm really hoping he likes the pad as right now I don't have much other options!
smrobs and MN Tigerstripes like this.
     
    06-15-2014, 08:26 PM
  #10
Yearling
If your really worried about him getting sore too you could try the thinline bareback pad. I have one, its very "sticky" for you and then has the thinline pad built in so helps with bounciness making it more comfy for you and the horse.
     

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