I am a firm believer in learning to ride bareback before ever stepping foot into a saddle.

When you learn the art of bareback riding you have a better idea of correct leads, muscle movements, and most importantly balance; all of which are a necessity in the saddle but could easily be ignored if you don’t have the knowledge. Also, I thrive on the simplicity of minimal tack and emotional connection between horse and rider. 

As a small child, I learned how to ride bareback before ever learning how to ride in my saddle; the importance of bareback was instilled in myself from early on. I have since then instructed bareback lessons to children, adults, and horses. 

In children, I have noticed a boost in their self-esteem and confidence. They are proud of the fact that they are riding without compensation of a saddle. It also teaches them the basic anatomy of the animal. Personally, I love turning any moment with a child into a learning experience! 

Adults have said that learning the bareback style of riding makes them feel “vulnerable” because they feel there is not much support between them and the animal and they have to “instill a mass amount of trust into themselves and the horse.” They have also expressed tremendous gratitude on being able to spot shoulder movement indicating which lead they are on and how to correct their balance when they feel an inconsistency. 

When I have jumped on a horse bareback for the first time the initial feeling I pick-up on is an immediate connection. They are listening without hesitation to words that don’t leave my lips and responding to every muscle movement felt between us. With one ear twitched back as I adjust my seat, they feel as free and natural as I do. In the beginning, they might be unsure of their footing (especially with a young horse) but after paying attention to my balance they soon learn the weight compensation. 

A well-trained equestrian can tell a person everything they need to know about a horse within the first few moments of stepping on bareback. 

Children, adults, and horses all have one thing in common when it comes to bareback riding and that is balance. Specifically, children and young/ green horses needing to learn balance are important for their developmental milestones both physically and mentally. Adults often get distracted with a bustling, on-the-go lifestyle and we forget the balance that is needed to keep our sanity; both emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I am guilty of this time and time again but something that always brings me back to my balanced self is a bareback ride on my mares. 

*It is important to note that although I do adore bareback riding, I do not recommend it for extended periods of time. Without a pad/ blanket and a supportive saddle tree, your seat bones will eventually hurt both you and the horse. 

I’d love to hear what riding bareback has taught you. Please drop a comment on this or reach out to me on my personal Instagram @unbridledmama. 

 

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Emily Griffin is a mama to two stunning daughters, a wife to her hunky husband, an experienced equestrian, and an Arizona native. She resides in a very small town in Southeastern, Arizona. Her days consist of raising children, everything equine, reading/ writing, and balancing the fine line between motherhood and insanity. She appreciates nature, the smell of a satisfying rain, and the lovely sunsets the Arizona deserts have to offer. Her life is unbridled in every sense of the word and she wouldn’t have it any other way! Follow her on Instagram at @unbridledmama.

 

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