I've been riding my friend's Arab bareback for the last couple of weeks because I want to work on my balance and 'loosening up my hips.' I think I'm beginning to get an idea of what the latter means now, and it seems so obvious that I'm not sure how I missed it before, other than that it's a bit harder to feel the horse under the western saddles we've been using in lessons. Well, the Arab is an easy keeper. So easy he's getting fat on pasture despite regular riding. Riding him bareback is very comfy. He's has both extra padding and muscles that conspire to make his back flat. Flat. Flat. Flat.
Today I rode my intstructor's 9 yo OTTB gelding. She just got him last fall and is working on his suppleness and leaning into the bit. Nonetheless, he's a pretty good guy. I was riding him with a bareback pad and he was still pointy! His spine and my tailbone were a little too friendly for comfort. Any advice? Or is it just a wait and hope it gets better as his back muscles up? He's quite a bit taller and way narrower than the Arab I'm used to!
Also, what is 'leaning into the bit'? And what do you do to fix it? He's being trained for English, so I know there's supposed to be contact, but it's supposed to be with nice vertical head carriage and responsiveness, not just "Cool, I can pull now." Which is what it felt like, almost like he was pulling me forward off balance part of the time.