Just a little background info: I am house sitting and helping care for 6 horses. I have no background in horses so I am starting from scratch. I have been with the horses for 3 weeks - 1 month. I feed and groom all of them. Only one of the horses gives me any problems during grooming, skittish of new people, but I'm even winning him over.
Out of the 6 horses, I am able to ride 1. His name is Billy, he is borderline above the pony measurement.
When I first began house sitting, I rode Billy with a saddle. The saddle is an Australian stock saddle. Within 30 minutes of riding, my butt and back would be so sore from riding I would give up. And it kept me from riding to only riding once/twice a week. Also, Billy worked under protest. It would take a great deal of effort to even get him to walk forward. On top of all of this, I didn't feel "secure" like I would fall off at a drop of a pin.
A friend, with horse experience, suggested I try riding bareback to improve posture and my seat. I started riding bareback 3 days ago and it is a night and day difference! Billy was slightly stubborn the first day for ten minutes but was an angel afterwards. I'm riding in a huuuuge paddock that is unleveled, has puddles, and ditches without a single problem. He also seems very content judging from his ears/head placement/etc. I'm also able to ride 1-3 hours at a time without pain. I've been riding daily. I haven't fallen off even once or even felt like I was going to, even when jumping up a ditch or trotting down hill.
The neighbour rides Billy with the same saddle and has no problems with pain or Billy. However, she is far more experienced with horses, with Billy and is a slightly smaller build than I. I'm small, 5'4" and 110lbs but she is even more petite than me.
Is it just my inexperience keeping me out of the saddle or could the saddle be ill-suited for me? I'm riding for pleasure and to exercise Billy, no intentions of competing. Would it be okay if I just kept riding bareback? Or should I try to get back into the saddle?
Next week, I'm going to start riding another one of the horses. His name is Buddy and he's part clydesdale, I don't know how large he is but he is a big boy! Very sweet natured, more so than Billy even. (I was suppose to start riding Buddy first but he had a small injury and needed rest.) Of course, he has a different saddle but should I ride Buddy bareback too?
The reason I ask about Buddy is, if Buddy and I have issues with saddle like Billy and I do, Buddy might not be so forgiving if I tried to ride him bareback later on.
Any tips or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.