Oh, if only someone had introduced me to horses when I was a young fit fella.
In the back streets of London, before the time I had to go out and earn a living - (as a bank clerk of all things), there were neither the horses nor the spare money to have riding lessons. It was not until I reached the grand old age of 38, after having moved to the countryside, that I discovered the joy of riding a spirited horse across the commons. In the intervening years I had bent my body by swimming, rowing and scuba diving. But eventully I got the hang of riding. The passion for horses has been with me ever since.
My first tutor sat me abord a horse without a saddle but she was kind and let me occasionally have use of a bridle bit and reins. I fell off regularly. She said the experience was good for me but she was indeed a hard lady.
If course there are no Native Britons in Britain to leave a tradition of riding bareback, unless you include the Welsh Mountain Folks, but they don't actually teach, they just show you to a Welsh Cob and hand you the reins. Then they stand back, watch and laugh.
Nowadays a very capable dressage rider stands in the arena and shouts at me -just in case my countrystyle of riding interferes with my mare's teaching of how to move, Germanic style. The Germans, whom we Brits hope to beat at Olympic dressage in 2012, frown when we don't use a saddle.
In the riding schools falling off these days is not allowed by the Health and Safety Executive, so only a few Brits (excluding the Welsh of course) get to ride bareback.
Anyway my mare DiDi might think I was getting too familiar with her.