Bareback Riding

  • Bareback riding is often associated with the early Native Americans, particularly the Comanche, Plains Indians, and the Nez Perce tribes.
  • Riding without a formal saddle requires a great deal of practice, skill, balance, coordination, and courage.
  • Native riders traditionally learn to leap astride their animals from the ground, but a mounting block or fence rail can also be used.
  • In warfare, horses were often used as shields.  Riders lay protected along the outside of their horses and practiced firing weapons as they rode into battle.
  • The horse’s mane could be held for balance.
  • Before the arrival of the European saddle, riders controlled their horses with a simple war bridle made from hide.  This was looped over the lower jaw of the horse and extended into either a single or double rein.
  • Bareback riding is more tiring for both horse and rider because there is no support from a saddle.
  • Riders are required to sit further forward in order to maintain control without excessive gripping.  They ride core-high, with straight legs and their heels flexed downward.
  • Blankets or pads can be used to provide more comfort, but these often slip.
  • It is warmer to ride bareback in winter.
  • Many equestrians like bareback riding because they believe it creates a closer bond with their horse.

25 Facts: The Comanche

The Comanche


  1. The Comanche were traditionally Plains Indians, associated with Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
  2. Their language is from the Uto-Aztecan family and is called the Shoshoni dialect.
  3. The early tribes were hunter-gatherers.  After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, they got horses from the Spanish and Pueblo Indians.
  4. It is believed the Comanche tribes broke away from the Shoshoni people sometime in the early Eighteenth Century.
  5. They lived in bands, but rarely formed nations or recognized tribes.
  6. A typical band numbered about 100 people.
  7. There were originally 12 bands, but this number fluctuated and changed with time.
  8. These warriors were so fierce they managed to drive the Apache off the Southern Plains.
  9. The Comanche became the dominant tribe on the Great Plains, feared for their reputation of selling captives into slavery.
  10. Their names derives from the Ute word for enemy.
  11. The tribe was noted for their skilled horsemanship.  They were infamous horse thieves too.
  12. Their closest and bitterest rivals (in riding and battle) were the Cheyenne.
  13. Warfare was a major part of Comanche life. This made them unpopular neighbors.
  14. Many Comanche spoke Spanish, French, and several Indian languages.  This made them successful traders.
  15. They infamously captured Spanish women, children, and horses and “traded” them back for a ransom.
  16. If one or two bands came together to fight a common enemy they followed a War Leader.  But this was a temporary appointment that ended after the conflict was resolved.
  17. Raids often took place under a full moon so the riders could see at night.  This led to the term Comanche Moon.
  18. Although ferocious warriors, the Comanche had little defense against European diseases.
  19. Outbreaks of smallpox and cholera reduced the population by an estimated 20,000 people.
  20. They suffered a final blow when the buffalo herds were exterminated.
  21. The last free band of Comanche, led by Quanah Parker, surrendered in 1875.
  22. But unhappy with life on the reservation, Black Horse’s band left and fought back.  This triggered the Buffalo Hunters War of 1877.
  23. Over the years, the U.S. government gradually defrauded the Native Americans of their possessions and land.
  24. Chief Quanah Parker campaigned vigorously for a better deal within the white political system in Washington.
  25. The Comanche Nation officially now numbers 16,372 people, based mainly around Lawton-Ft. Sill in Oklahoma.

A rare 1920’s silent film features 300 Comanche and Kiowa.  Check out The Daughter of Dawn at:


Official Comanche Nation, “Comanche Nation of Oklahoma,” at

Texas Indians, “The Texas Comanche,”

Wikipedia, “Comanche,” at