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does riding bareback hurt your horses back?

This is a discussion on does riding bareback hurt your horses back? within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • STUDIES REGARDING IF RIDERS HURT HORSES
  • Bareback riding hurt horse

 
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    11-15-2009, 02:15 PM
  #21
Cat
Green Broke
From Practical Horseman and Joyce Harman -

No Saddle, no pain?
Q: I am interested in finding information on bareback riding, specifically its effect on the horse's back, e.i., weight-distribution. Have any studies been done comparing bareback riding to riding with a (well-fitting) saddle? Also, what sorts of position adjustments are recommended from a classical dressage seat to a bareback seat?

Joyce Harman, DVM
A:
I have used a computerized saddle pad to evaluate the weight distribution of a bareback rider compared to that of a rider in a saddle. Although you might expect your weight to be better distributed by a saddle's wider surface area, I found that bareback riding creates fewer pressure points. This is most likely because the primary points of contact between the horse and bareback rider are the rider's thighs and the horse's back, which are both moving surfaces. When you add a rigid saddle to the equation, you interfere with this dynamic connection. (Only a very skinny person without much padding on her bottom who sits absolutely still for a long period of time risks creating pressure points on her horse's back).

Bareback riding is only uncomfortable for a horse who has paint or discomfort at the exact spot on which your seat bones rest. For all other horses, carrying bareback riders should be no less comfortable and no harder work than carrying them with a saddle. However, it is a different sensation, so some horses may feel a little funny at first. They also may worry more when they sense that you are less balanced and stable.

From the rider's perspective, going bareback is an excellent tool for improving balance and learning to feel more connected to your horse. Everybody should be required to do it when they're learning to ride! However, I would not advise trying it on a horse with extremely narrow, high withers. If you're constantly trying to protect yourself from your horse's withers, your riding will be less effective. And, needless to say, it can be dangerous to your anatomy. I also don't recommend using a bareback pad - a cushioned saddle pad with a girth-like strap securing it to a horse - for extra comfort, because it can be unstable and prone to slipping around your horse's belly.

Depending on your and your horse's conformation, riding bareback may put you in a less effective and less balanced position. The thicker your thighs and the wider your horse, the more your legs will be pushed out to the sides with your lower legs flapping in the breeze. This makes it difficult to use your leg aids properly. Also, because your hip joints can't widen beyond a certain point, your pelvis is rocked backward, throwing your body out of balance. If you and your horse have this conformation combination, bareback riding may not be beneficial for your riding skills.

If you do decide to try riding bareback, first do it in a safe, enclosed area. Whatever your goals, remember that it is supposed to be fun. This is a great chance for you and your horse to relax and enjoy!
     
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    11-16-2009, 07:33 AM
  #22
Started
How is your weight in one spot bareback? You thighs, calves and seat should all be in contact with the horse, spreading your weight out quite nicely.
     
    11-16-2009, 02:45 PM
  #23
Showing
IMHO, unless your horse has a pre-existing spinal issue that causes pain, bareback shouldn't hurt them. Of course though, a bad seat either bareback or in a saddle can cause issues. But, if you have a good seat then it shouldn't be a problem.
     
    11-19-2009, 06:10 PM
  #24
Started
I don't think that's true, unless you're really heavy or you bounce and flop all over the horse's back.

I've never had a horse become sore that way. Vic would unload me very quickly if I was hurting him.
     

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