All natural horse care in the west of Ireland

Practising Bareback
Thursday, 26 June 2008
I have decided that I am going to ride at least once a week bareback. I really enjoy it and the horses seem to as well. I took Polly out last Thursday and Magpie this morning just with their Dr Cookes bitless bridles. It was really enjoyable (for all of us I think). The horses just seemed so much more relaxed.

Last Thursday Polly and I set off at a slow walk (Polly's faster of her two paces) away from the house and around the block. We passed by my neighbours mare and foal where Polly stopped to say hello.

About half way we stopped and I thought we would try backing and circling just to see if it was any different than doing it with a saddle on.

It certainly was. Polly was so much more responsive and I didn't feel that I had to pull her around in the circle. On the backing I just took a soft hold and started to lean back and she backed.

When she is wearing a saddle I have to lean further back before she responds.

Hopefully if I ride more bareback she will be more responsive when she is under saddle.

It was great, We even tried a trot home (only a few steps). Polly is so easy to sit at trot. 

Back in the drive way to the house we practiced circles and backing again she was really responsive.

I put on her rope halter hopped back on board and headed back to the field. She was a bit harder to get going in the halter with but eventually she got the message and we headed off.

Quick munch on the grass outside the field and then in. 

This morning Magpie and I went out for a short walk. She really didn't want to go out this morning. 

As soon as she saw the bridle she walked off into the arena. She doesn't go far just a few steps to make a point and then stands with her back to me.

I put her Bitless on and walked her back into the yard. She didn't resist. Then out to the mounting block. I think she was a bit surprised that she wasn't getting her saddle on. You could almost see her thinking 'haven't you forgot something?'

Again only round the block. We were going about ten minutes when my dog ran up behind us and Magpie shot forward. I was surprised that I didn't lose my balance. I just seemed to go with her, leaning back slightly. I wasn't expecting it so I didn't have time to tense up!!

I am trying not to put my legs against the horse so I am not gripping with my legs and my seat is deeper. Seems to work.

We continued on and I decided we would go a bit further but in order to do this we had to pass the end of our road. Now generally when we pass our road it can be a bit of a struggle to get Magpie to pass but she didn't protest too much. 

I had to offer a little support with my leg (the one nearest our turning) and kissed her on.

Met a farmer neighbour and stopped for a quick chat. He offered some advice on how to ride bareback: "Just hook your ankles around the horses belly, squeeze and go for it" I took his suggestion on board and carried on.

Tried to trot a few steps near home but I tensed up too much and Magpie wouldn't go into trot. She has a really bumpy trot and I think she knew if she trotted I would probably come off. Not because she is bumpy but because I tensed up waiting for the bumps. Need to work on relaxing.

Back in the driveway we practised backing and circles. Magpie resisted the backing and tried throwing her head up but I just sat and waited maintaining the soft hold, not giving to her but not pulling either and leaning back. Eventually she got it!! Gave her a pet and a treat. Done a couple of circles left and right. Again, a pet and a treat.

Second attempt at backing was a lot easier but we will work on that. Left the Bitless on and we walked back to her field.

Quick munch of grass outside the field before going in.

This bareback riding could be addictive!! 


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