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NovemberMist 03-16-2013 09:01 PM

Reteaching Bareback
When I was 12/13, my mom (who was a trainer) and I were training my then 3-year old gelding, using John Lyons' book Lyons on Horses. We did really well with it until I, in my 13 year old haste, was working with him when I really shouldn't have been and jumped on him in the pasture. I climbed the fence and hopped on from there, but I ended up whacking his hip with my knee, :/ he bolted, I fell, and no one has been able to ride him bareback since.

But I love riding bareback. It's something I haven't done for years now, because every time I try, he just spins on his heel until I come off. I'm kinda stumped. Some people have told me I'll just have to accept that he'll never go bareback, but I think he will. He just needs... something. And I have yet to figure out what that something is.

waresbear 03-16-2013 09:30 PM

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I find the best way to introduce a horse to bareback, is to remove the saddle after a good long ride, then cool them out while you are riding bareback. They are enjoying the cool out & not fresh. I don't think your horse felt your knee too much, his hip is much, much bigger & stronger & tougher than your knee.

clairegillies 03-17-2013 04:45 AM

thats a good idea to wait till you've already been riding for a while. then you could try riding from the yard to the field.
I often put my pony out like this, its not a big distance.. only two minutes really... sometimes stop to eat grass on the way.

or even just get on and get off again, don't do any more than that till he accepts it. then next time try one step then get off. build up on it slowly slowly.


NovemberMist 03-17-2013 12:16 PM

I haven't tried doing after a ride. But I have tried going in slow steps. He's fine, right up until I'm over his back. Not yet sitting on him, just laying over his back. Then he spins. Which makes me reluctant to use a mounting block with him (I've always had my mom there to give me a leg up) because I don't want him to spin into it.

I almost think it might be beneficial to use a mounting block, or step ladder, so that I can get over his back slowly, instead of going from leaning on his back, to jumping up next to him, and then jumping on to him. More like, standing on the block next to him, then get down. Then stand on the block and lean over him, then get down. Then stand on the block and lean on him, then get down. Until I'm laying over his back, arms on one side, legs on the other, like a saddle blanket, and not standing on the block any more.

Does that make sense?

HollyLolly 03-17-2013 12:45 PM

Could you try a bareback saddle pad? Just so he feels the girth strap, so he feels tacked up? Maybe he's just sensitive? With the pad, you're a little more cushioned from his back, so if he is sensitive, that could help?

One of my old horses didn't like it at first and dumped me, but when I got the bareback saddle pad she was a lot better (and with time I could ride her without). I also remember that I had to teach myself not to grip hard with my legs, and to relax, otherwise she'd take it as a cue to go.

Laffeetaffee 03-17-2013 02:54 PM

What you could do (and what I'm actually going to do with one of the horses I'm working with) is simulate swinging on bareback. A lot of horses get uncomfortable or bored when you try to use a mounting block or a leg up, because you have to ask the horse to stand perfectly still while you shuffle around and climb up the mounting block, then clamber on as best you can, maybe even shifting them off balance which they then might get punished for moving to regain it. If you have a western saddle it would be easier, but basically to start teaching them to stand still for swinging, stand at the horse's head facing back and put your foot in the stirrup and swing yourself on, slowly at first, but get faster and faster as you start to practice more. Then start grabbing onto the horn and without putting your feet in the stirrup at all, take a small running start and swing straight into the saddle (it helps if you're on a slope with the horse below and you up higher). Then when you can do that fairly well, begin holding onto his mane instead of the horn. Eventually you can just take the saddle off and use a bareback pad, and just swing right up. You can mount from anywhere this way, the horse isn't so pressured to stand perfectly still in a specific spot for a long time, and it takes about 3 seconds.

NovemberMist 03-17-2013 05:27 PM

As much as I would LOVE to be able to swing onto my horse like that, it's not something I can try right now, or in the near future. I don't have the strength to do that, unfortunately.

jannette 03-17-2013 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by waresbear (Post 1941066)
I find the best way to introduce a horse to bareback, is to remove the saddle after a good long ride, then cool them out while you are riding bareback. They are enjoying the cool out & not fresh. I don't think your horse felt your knee too much, his hip is much, much bigger & stronger & tougher than your knee.

i have heard the same thing and am going to try it :D

Poseidon 03-17-2013 06:22 PM

I did the bareback pad thing. I am pretty sure my mare was just never ridden bareback so she never learned that it was okay and was really angry and confused when I would try to just hop on (with the use of a mounting block).

I put on her saddle pad, the put the bareback pad over it, which had a cinch. So from her perspective, she felt her pad, then felt something cinch up under her, so she knew she was going to be ridden. It worked, but took a while of her getting used to this, then removing the actual saddle pad with time so it was just the bareback pad. Then one day, I just put her next to a mounting block and bam. Got on. Not an issue anymore.

backyardhorse 03-17-2013 06:24 PM

Maybe try this----Slow and steady will win the race. If you can, lead him to a place where there is a wall on the "off" side, to keep him from spinning that way. Have your Mom hold him, and then, using a mounting block, just climb to the top step, do NOT try to mount at this time. Just stand so that you are higher than his back. You might take this opportunity to give him a good grooming on his back. Up, down, up, down, making your pauses at the "up" longer. When you can see that he's relaxed, and it may take many days, go back to the leaning over him, but not leaning ON him (quite a balancing act). Again, wait him to relax, and then lean ON him. When you get to the point of actually getting on him in the riding position, do everything in slow motion, so that he doesn't get startled when that leg comes over.
Waresbear offered an excellent idea to add to this--going for a good (saddled) ride first.
Buena suerte!

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