saddle vs bare back pad

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saddle vs bare back pad

This is a discussion on saddle vs bare back pad within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Western riding vs english riding vs bareback
  • Bareback vs saddle

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    10-11-2013, 05:03 AM
saddle vs bare back pad

Hey i've been riding several years now in a saddle and i'm thinking of moveing to a bareback pad with stirups I was wondering a few things

What do you prefer?
Other than weight and saddle horn what is the differance?
Can you compete with a bare back pad?
Do you have a preferred pad?

I really want to learn more about them and differance in riding thanks ^__^
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    10-11-2013, 07:12 AM
Super Moderator
If you want to use a bareback pad, choose one WITHOUT stirrups. A bareback pad with stirrups is a very, very bad idea, because, although you might find the ride more comfortable, the horses' back will really suffer. The bareback pad has no carcass to hold it over horses' spine, so any pressure in the stirrups will result in a strong pressure on the horses' spine, in one, small and painful spot.
smrobs, beau159, boots and 1 others like this.
    10-11-2013, 07:35 AM
Thanks for the tip ^__^
    10-11-2013, 10:53 AM
Pad or not, bareback is rougher on the horse, because all your weight is concentrated at the spot your butt sits. The pad just puts a little more padding under your ischial tuberosity (the two bones you actually "sit" on), but it will still feel the pressure at those two spots. For the occasional ride of relative short duration (an hour ride 2-3 times a week) you're unlikely to notice much. If you ride bareback on a regular bases (with or without a pad) your horse will end up with a sore back similar to what they get with a saddle that rocks (vs bridges). That's why saddle trees are used. To displace the weight of the rider and spread it over as wide an area as possible. It's the same reason why most large nations experimented with and abandoned using treeless saddles for their Cav. It was a wonderful dream to think of not having to get a properly fitting tree for every horse (no small task for a mounted military force). After the Hungarians and Germans came up with their new military saddle (what the English speaking world calls the "English" saddle) the Cav was much more versatile (that saddle allowed more freedom of motion so more could be done). This was great until they started having military campaigns. An unacceptably large number of horses were out of action (unfit for duty) during campaigns. Turns out that the saddle's tree design, while giving better maneuverability, did not displace weight as well so have a lot of continuous riding huge numbers of horses were out of action. Treeless saddles turned out to be even worse and never pass the testing phase since no tree left pretty much all horses ridden that much unusable. But I'm getting long winded and off track

Think of it this way.
I stand on your back with my heels. You feel the direct pressure and the muscle I'm on will eventually start to hurt.
I fold a blanket and put it on your back and do the same. You'll still feel the same points of pressure. It might not hurt as quickly, but it will hurt eventually.
I put a 24" square, 1/2" thick sheet of aluminum across your back and again stand on it with my heels. You won't feel the spot where my heels are and all the weight is spread out over all the points where the aluminum sheet is contacting your back. You'll be able to tolerate that a significant length of time more than the other two ways.

Most riders have ridden bareback from time to time. Long ago I'd done it to hurry up and get cows back in that had gotten out or if I want to ride down to take a swim in the river and didn't feel like taking the time to put on a saddle or if I wanted to ride my horse into the pond to swim her. It's unlikely to harm them when it's occasional and short vs regular and long.
bsms, kbg7506 and horselovinguy like this.
    10-11-2013, 12:48 PM
I rode my trail horse bareback for a good ten years. He preferred it to a saddle. What I found is that if the rider is confident that we move a surprising amount on the horse's back so the bones don't continually dig in. Also, if you want a shapely tush, squeeze and hold it as you ride as this will elevate the bones a little. Besides the effect of pressure on the spine with stirrups, they also give a false sense of security. My horse was comfy so I didn't even bother with a pad. We never did, even with the TBs.
    10-11-2013, 05:02 PM
Green Broke
My personal opinion: If I am going to take the time to cinch up a bareback pad, I might as well cinch up my saddle.

I either use my sadddle, or I ride "real" bareback.

I personally think bareback pads are ridiculous, although they do serve a function to keep your pants cleaner.....

If you are going to ride bareback, then ride bareback!! If you feel you need to have a horn to hold onto, either hold onto the horse's mane, or else stick to the saddle until you have better balance.

Compete --> Well that depends. What are you going to compete in and at what level?
shaggy and SarahandDallas like this.
    10-11-2013, 05:52 PM
Thanks guys and its lbs not miles I like your detailed response

What kind of saddles do you prefer?
I ride western with a 15 inch and round skirt with a square saddle pad it's a abbeta 7lb I love it and may buy another now i've learned more about the bare back pads
Post pictures of your favorite saddles and why you like them?
    10-11-2013, 06:42 PM
Super Moderator
I agree, beau. I have and use a bareback pad, though, this kind -

But I use it solely to keep my pants cleaner in the shedding season And it is also nice to get young horses used to girthing without risking with a saddle. A bareback pat with a horn seems senseless to me.
    10-11-2013, 06:53 PM
I have the same one in the "western" style

I'm not especially confident bareback yet and I like that it gives me a little more "stick" than sitting directly on the horse. Being a little cleaner is nice, too.

In addition to stirrups creating pressure points on a bareback pad, there's also no structure to keep the pad from slipping, so if you're not putting equal weight into both stirrups it will slide down the side of the horse. You might be balanced normally, but what about if your horse spooks? It's a quick way to end up under the horse

As for competing, most disciplines require a "real" saddle, though not necessarily a treed saddle. There are very nice (read: very expensive) treeless saddles that are almost indistinguishable from traditional treed saddles, and those are a completely different story.
    10-11-2013, 07:07 PM
Can you tell me more about a treeless saddle?

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