- 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.
- The Comanche were traditionally Plains Indians, associated with Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
- Their language is from the Uto-Aztecan family and is called the Shoshoni dialect.
- The early tribes were hunter-gatherers. After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, they got horses from the Spanish and Pueblo Indians.
- It is believed the Comanche tribes broke away from the Shoshoni people sometime in the early Eighteenth Century.
- They lived in bands, but rarely formed nations or recognized tribes.
- A typical band numbered about 100 people.
- There were originally 12 bands, but this number fluctuated and changed with time.
- These warriors were so fierce they managed to drive the Apache off the Southern Plains.
- The Comanche became the dominant tribe on the Great Plains, feared for their reputation of selling captives into slavery.
- Their names derives from the Ute word for enemy.
- The tribe was noted for their skilled horsemanship. They were infamous horse thieves too.
- Their closest and bitterest rivals (in riding and battle) were the Cheyenne.
- Warfare was a major part of Comanche life. This made them unpopular neighbors.
- Many Comanche spoke Spanish, French, and several Indian languages. This made them successful traders.
- They infamously captured Spanish women, children, and horses and “traded” them back for a ransom.
- 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.
- Raids often took place under a full moon so the riders could see at night. This led to the term Comanche Moon.
- Although ferocious warriors, the Comanche had little defense against European diseases.
- Outbreaks of smallpox and cholera reduced the population by an estimated 20,000 people.
- They suffered a final blow when the buffalo herds were exterminated.
- The last free band of Comanche, led by Quanah Parker, surrendered in 1875.
- But unhappy with life on the reservation, Black Horse’s band left and fought back. This triggered the Buffalo Hunters War of 1877.
- Over the years, the U.S. government gradually defrauded the Native Americans of their possessions and land.
- Chief Quanah Parker campaigned vigorously for a better deal within the white political system in Washington.
- 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 http://www.comanchenation.com/
Texas Indians, “The Texas Comanche,” http://www.texasindians.com/comanche.htm
Wikipedia, “Comanche,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comanche