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Is it possible for a person to ride a horse without using a bridle or reins of any kind (is it possible to ride a horse as big as a Percheron without even a saddle)?

E. N.


It's possible to ride a horse without a bridle or reins if you are willing to let the horse "have its head" and go where it wishes. With a well trained horse and a rider who is really skilled at using leg and balance cues, it is even possible that the horse could be steered within reasonable limits. [One classic example is Charmayne James' championship barrel race where the bridle slipped off and Charmayne steered Scamper entirely with her legs and balance.] As for simply staying on board, a firm grip on a big handful of mane is usually all you need for remaining on top -- as long as the ride doesn't get too rough. Would I recommend riding without bridle or reins? Not if you have any choice in the matter.

Bob bareback on a Percheron Is it possible to ride a Percheron without a saddle? A quick glance at this snapshot of yours truly should give you the answer.

One of the difficulties in riding a three-quarter ton Percheron is simply how to climb on board. Even with stirrups, it's quite a stretch for me to get my foot high enough -- and I'm a rather supple guy. The matter of mounting is further complicated by the fact that most horses dislike standing close to such objects as a box, rock, fence, stepladder, or whatever, because they have difficulty seeing them and tend to trip over them or bump into them. The best option is to have someone on the ground literally give you "a leg up." (If you haven't already done so, you may want to search my site for some info on how a horse sees things... it will also help you understand equine behavior a bit better.)

...And see the next Q&A for more on the subject of trying to ride bareback....

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