Assistance with bareback riding?
I have recently begun to attempt to learn to ride bareback. The walking has gone well but I find the trotting difficult. (I have not attempted canter yet as my horse is not balanced enough to do a correct walk-canter transition) When I ask my horse to trot bareback she is reluctant to go forward (under saddle she is eager) and trots with her ears pinned back and head high. I believe this is because while I find sitting trot in a saddle with or without stirrups a breeze, I struggle to do the same bareback. This means I bounce, so she becomes stiffer and more irritated, so I bounce some more. Not a good look. I do not fault my horse for disliking trotting bareback, it is obviously uncomfortable for her because of my poor seat, I would like to fix this.
What I am wondering is if any forum member has any tips for doing a better bareback trot? if so, they would be much appreciated.
Is it possible for you to post the trot? Or slow it down by half halting?
Posting bareback can be hard but it will save your horse's back while you get the feel of things.
When you do go to sit the trot, imagine your lower leg stretching down and all your weight centered on your seat. Imagine your back is a slinky, absorbing the impact and moving with the horse. You have to move your body with them, otherwise you brace too much.
Trotting is the hardest thing to do bareback. I will flat out run my mare bareback before I trot. I always go straight from walk to lope on her, and then stop or walk to avoid the trot. While our trot is good now, it used to really not be, and even days when I feel good about trotting I try to avoid it so just in case our old bouncy days come back. Or when I do trot, I post. I can sit my mare's jog better than her long trot. I don't want to take the chance of losing my seat.
Overall, it's practice. A lot of horses don't want to move forward bareback. It took a lot for my mare to lope with me bareback, and run too, but after she realized I wasn't going to fall off she did a good job of it.
You'll need to do some lower abdominal work to softly engage your core muscles to effectively rotate your pelvis forward (think of sitting on the pockets of your jeans). This will allow your hips to move forward WITH your horse's back instead of the jarring up and down movement you're now getting. Forget about doing anything with your legs for now. They'll just get in your way at this point unless they're relaxed. Make sure your upper body does not get in front of your hips at all (remember ear, shoulder, hip, and heel alignment). It's actually best to think of hips leading for the time being.
I would recommend for the sake of your mare's back, to practice this with your saddle on for a while. If the is carrying her head high, is reluctant to go forward, and has her ears pinned back, she is not enjoying what is happening. These physical signs are her only way of communicating that to you. Watch videos of the bodies of upper level dressage riders, especially the hips and alignment of the overall body to see how the rider's biomechanics work in conjunction with the horse's movement.
Don't do posting trot bareback. Sorry, sorrelhorse. This will teach her to grip with her knees and pitch her upper body forward and compromise her balance and security.
Not sure why you're ditching your saddle... But I'd stick with it for just a bit longer till you have a more balanced & secure seat. Kudos to you for asking for help. Education is the first step!
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When riding bareback, try leaning back. Relax yurself on the horse, cause if u sit too forward, u start to tense up when the horse trots, or even canters. And when u stiffen up, the horse feels it, so its just doing what yur doing.
Hope the advice helps!!!
Thank you for all the assitance guys!
jkaequus- I am not totally ditching my saddle, where I am is the middle of winter and I cannot canter or jump in my riding paddock at the moment as it is too wet. (I can trailer to an indoor or ride to the beach on weekends, but not weekdays). Beacuse I still want to ride during the week, and because simply walking/trotting around with a saddle not able to really practise anything gets incredibly boring after a while, I want to take this winter to learn to ride bareback. I will definately look at some videos and think about those points while I ride.
sorrelhorse- I am not balanced enough in my seat to do a correct half-halt whilist riding bareback...and my pony is not likely to listen to an incorrect one. However thats kinda of redundant as she dislikes bareback trotting so much she just does a slow trot anywhy, unless I ask her for more. (spoiled pony, he he!) I will definately try picture what you said while I ride.
Potterhorse- Thanks, I will remember to stay relaxed and back.
I will try everything you guys have said to help. I am also thinking of getting all my thickest saddlepads and layering them to ride on to save her back. Would this work?
I would buy a bareback pad, just until your more balanced, it have stirrups on it (most do), but you can take them off, and cuz its a pad it should help with the bouncing on the back, to make it more conferable for your horse.
I hope it works out for you :)
Just go have fun with it. Lean back a little and round your lower back. This will put you on the chubbiest part of your bum. Allow your legs to move forward a bit. You will learn to relax your lower spine which will act as a shock absorber for your upper body. Grab a small handful of mane to start to support yourself as you lean back. Allow your legs to completely relax. Balance is what will keep you from coming off. The more you ride bareback the better you will get at it.
PheonixRising- My nearest saddlery is three hours away. Will a saddlepad and a surcingle work just as well?
Saddlebag- Thanks for the advice, I will try it out. I confess I have never heard anyone tell me to round my shoulders before, but I will give it a shot.
Bareback pads are great because they will help you stick, and you won't have to compensate for the horse's skin moving underneath you. You can buy them online, and they'll probably be less expensive than at a regular store anyways.
Sitting a trot bareback is the hard. Try to relax and go with the horse. Take deep breaths and sit back a little. It takes a lot of practice but eventually it will click and you will get it. :D
And if you do go with the bareback pad (look on ebay), take the stirrups off (if they have them), they are very dangerous.
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