Today 12-year-old Ellie came out to ride horses with me. She rode her six-year-old mare Luna. I rode my favorite mare ‘Fanny’. The horses have hardly had any riding so far this winter but they did not show their usual freshness. They really seem to enjoy their outing.
In order to become proficient on a horse, we need to learn to ride securely, relying on our own balance. Bareback riding teaches the horsemen to depend on his or her own balance and not extra props like stirrups and saddle horn. For a beginning horse rider, bareback riding is excellent training.
The main reason I like to ride with a saddle in the summer is to protect myself from the horse’s sweat. In the winter the horses aren’t sweating very much so it is a perfect time for the beginner to find his/her seat or natural balance. Riding bareback teaches us stay in the middle of the horse no matter what the horse does.
Ellie confessed she was somewhat afraid when she first got on – while walking in circles bareback in the round pen. Today was Ellie’s first ride without a saddle. By the time we got to the bigger training pen Ellie seemed as comfortable as she had been when she was riding with a saddle. Finally we wound up taking a trail ride in the sparkling snowy woods. Both she and the horse did well indeed.
The day after riding bareback for the first few times, some muscles that you never noticed before may be a little sore the next day. But with consistent riding the soreness quickly disappears. I haven’t talked to Ellie to find out if she was sore.