My friend was given a Quarter Horse gelding a few months back, and though he came with a bridle, he had no saddle. She's been riding him bareback, just recently with the addition of a saddle pad balanced on his back.
Since saddles can be so darn expensive, they're considering a bareback pad with stirrups, since those can be $40-60, as opposed to $200+ for a synthetic Western saddle. And so I'm wondering, are bareback pads with stirrups even remotely like a saddle, or is she better off just saving her money for a saddle and skipping the bareback pad?
For starters, I think that no matter what opinions are here, in the end you may be giving unsolicited advice which can ruffle a few feathers, so be cautious when approaching this with your friend/parents etc.
I think that a bareback pad WITHOUT stirrups is actually safer than one with them. For stirrups to really be sound and do their job, they need to be attached to something sturdy and sound, such as the tree of a saddle which is usually metal, wood, resin, etc. An experienced rider may be able to get away with them, especially on a quiet horse. But I wouldn't suggest them for an inexperienced rider or a horse that isn't super quiet. It can cause a very false sense of stability.
Also, when an inexperienced rider "posts" they tend to do so by putting all of their weight in their feet/stirrups. In a bareback pad with stirrups this would cause the weight to be concentrated right across the withers which can cause the horse discomfort and bruised muscles.
Thanks! I'll let them know. I should have mentioned in my first post that they're asking for my input, so no worries there :)
Bareback pads with stirrups are a big no-no for all the reasons CW mentioned. They're very unsafe.
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