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.