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.