Q&A Questions and Answers:
Hi! I need help! When I ride bare-back on my horse, I am slipping off all the time! How can I get better balance and stay on at the walk, trot, canter, and hand gallop? Am I slipping off because my horse is so round? Also, is it even good for the me and my horse to ride bare-back? Does it improve anything?
Some horses and some riders just seem better adapted to bareback riding than others. Ol' Willy's back, for example, came up to a rather sharp ridge -- if you rode him bareback, you were either in perfect balance or you were falling off! Fanny, on the other hand, has a very flat back, which makes her a lot easier to ride sans saddle. I've also seen riders who could literally sit forwards, backwards, or sideways on just about any horse without falling off. [For example, take a look at this photo I snapped of a young gal who has been especially blessed in that area. Yep, she's riding double, bareback, sitting sideways and reading a book! Not the sort of behavior I recommend, but it worked for her!] It seems to depend a lot on the workings of a rider's inner ear (sense of balance), experience with how a horse moves, flexibility, and center of gravity. If balance seems to be a problem in other areas as well, you may want to have an ear doctor check you out.
I've used the tale several times of the man who told his doctor, "It hurts whenever I do this." "Then," the doctor replied, "stop doing that." If you have no compelling reason for riding bareback, play it safe and stick with a saddle. Riding bareback while your horse is being worked on a longe line can certainly help your riding ability, but there's no glory in seeing how many times you can hit the ground!
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