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My horse has terrible shark fin withers. He rides fine in a saddle but I tried to ride him bareback and he freaked out. I’m not sure if this is related to his high withers but I’ve never had a horse freak out over getting on bareback. Could it be his back has something wrong or just cause he hasn’t been ridden bareback, or cause his withers? I included the only picture I have of him without a saddle that shows his withers. Any advice would be great. He’s a 6 y/o poss TB? We don’t know for sure
 

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He could have back pain. Riding bareback puts more pressure on a smaller area, which can cause pain not normally felt with a saddle. I'd have a vet or chiro check him out.
 

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Mine also has shark fin and she isn't comfortable. I spend a long time getting to know her. Daily I would line her up by the mounting block and first lie over her on my stomach (without stepping off the block, just applying gradual weight). Then practising lifting my leg so she knew what was coming and when I finally got on I took it REAL slow. She actually tried to buck people off in the past, better riders, bareback so nervous was an understatement. She was a bit like "what the heck" but as long as I didn't squash her spine she was fine. I gave her the biggest fattest treat each time we progressed and she began looking forward to our sessions. I got immediately off each improvement. The next week I asked for a few steps and got off. And progressed like that. There are horses that are fine bareback but she needed some warming up. And ofc... it could be back pain. I like to warm up if I'm getting on bareback just a little walk around and play before.
 

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Some horses just don't like the sensation of you sitting on their back and sending all those messages directly to their spine with every wiggle and jiggle you do...sensory overload!
He is no more prominent a wither though than many horses...
If he is at all underweight or not top-line strong your concentrated weight in one place directly on his spine and nerve central of his body can irritate him.

6 year old possible TB...I would guess he never was ridden bareback much if at all before..
A new learning experience for the horse...
He's pretty young and may not have much road mileage {experiences} other than being broke to ride and most trainers don't do bareback...
:runninghorse2:....
jmo...
 

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I ride my high withered tb mare bareback ALL the time but the first time I tried it she bucked me off. Her wither is MUCH higher than your boy's. You have to introduce it gently, it's completely different to being ridden with a saddle and many a horse is uncomfortable with it to start.

My mare raced, and a racing saddle is little more than a glorified bareback pad, but she still didn't take to being ridden bareback with no preparation.

She is fine now, as long as my sitting trot is solid. She won't tolerate attempts to post the trot bareback, and she gets cranky if I get jammed up and start bouncing (as would I, 50kg banging on your spine wouldn't be very comfy), but she works quite beautifully bareback. BUT I HAD TO PREPARE HER FOR IT.
 

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Those withers aren't the worst. The long drawn back withers are worse.

He's fairly narrow and a framed, so that'll be uncomfortable, and if he's like most TBs will have a bigger trot. Young TBs are sensitive skinned and if he was ever raced, was definitely never ridden bareback.

Introduce him like you would backing a horse for the first time. He may never be comfortable going bareback, though. Especially if you have a bony seat or aren't independant in your seat. You can use a bareback pad, without stirrups, to help.

My horse has a back like yours and while he's ok being ridden bareback, we can w/t/c and my seat is good, I can tell he's not thrilled. He guards his back more, doesn't move out. So I don't make him. I'll get on bareback rarely, usually only if I want to do something specifically without a saddle (great for showing you where you collapse), and it won't ve long and usually just at the walk.
 

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His withers aren't too bad, I've seen worse. My mare has big shoulders & high withers, I haven't ridden her bareback yet, but I plan on it in the future.

Have you used a bareback pad? That may give him more comfort/support.
 
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