The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 10:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:42 am
Posts: 2147
Location: Vienna, Austria
Probably this has been discussed in a myriad of other threads, but I haven´t found the answers I was looking for yet...

Since I sat (albeit very, very shortly ;)) on Mucki now, I started to ponder all the ways I could start to explore riding with him. I´m hesitant to buy a saddle due to his age, although I guess there´s no getting around it. I will need stirrups for the faster gaits to stand up, won´t I?

Anyway for the very start I was wondering whether riding bareback will be best, or if I should buy a bareback-pad like this one. I´ve tried it on a horse of a friend of mine and it was quite comfortable. The question remains, what´s better for Mucki? Pad, or bareback? Or should I better start with a proper saddle anyway?


The horse owes us nothing.

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 5:07 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 5:52 am
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Location: Taiwan, via NZ
Volker, I think it depends a lot on the shape of your horses back, his movement, and your style of riding.

I've started Sunrise bareback or with a pad, and ridden her like that for two years before really saddling her with a "real" saddle, and her back is MMUUUUCH better now than it was before I started riding her. Many say that you mustn't do this on young horses because you must rise the trot to protect their backs. Sunrise begs to differ. She's always noticeably rounds up in pleasure when I forgo the saddle and ride her bareback or in her Christ's pad again.

But she has a really round build, with no withers poking up. And my bareback style is very light. I'm able to spread most of my weight down through my thighs, in a classical position, without gripping, and my seat bones hardly contact her. Her trot is very easy to sit with minimal bounce.

Harlequin however, has a different shape that isn't conducive to riding bareback, and a really springy big trot that is going to take a lot of effort to sit. I have started him in a saddle, and always use it, unless I'm just sitting on him doing some stationery CT. Because of his more bony withers, it's not comfortable to sit up tall and hug around him, so I would be inclined to sit in a more chaired position on him, and have my seat bones in more contact. I always do a very gentle rising trot. I hope that one day I will be able to ride him bareback, when he's muscled up more and smoothed out his gaits so that I can sit them comfortably.

Personally, in a bareback pad, I look for ones that are shaped for wither relief, like a good quality saddle pad, even if the horse is a round low withered horse. I think they're more comfortable on the horses back. The Christ's Lamfelle bareback pads are more expensive, but they're the limousine of pads IMO. Before I invested in those, I used to use a good quality endurance saddle pad (Haf) with a circingle and found that worked really well also.

I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,
But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
Posts: 760
I have used a shaped wool-felt underpad with a bareback pad on top and I think it is making it very comfortable for me and the horse. It does not make me feel as secure as my Western saddle but much more secure (because of less saddle roll) than my treeless saddle. Compared to the treeless, which locks me in a little, I can move my weight around a lot more which I think helps because my seat bones never make contact for very long.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:38 pm
Posts: 81
Location: Ontario, Canada
Volker, I have the Barefoot Ride-on pad, but I hardly use it. Fanny doesn't really like being cinched up, and I don't ride much or for a long period of time, so I tend to just get on bareback. However, the other day I was on her bareback wearing snow pants, and she spooked and I came off :sad: Ouch.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:44 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
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Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
I have noticed that many people cinch too far forward, not only placing the saddle too close to the shoulder blades, but really making the horse's elbow (it's just in front of the cinch area) feel constrained and trapped.

Any such feeling will tend to make a horse reactive, even sometimes will buck.

Move out of the cinch groove about a hand's width back, putting the front edge of the cinch or girth about at the back edge of this groove. This is for most horses a more correct placement.

Same would hold true for treeless and bareback pad. What we might think is hardly a bother the horse sometimes is very reactive to.

Love is Trust, trust is All
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:38 pm
Posts: 81
Location: Ontario, Canada
Thought I should add that the Barefoot Ride-On pad felt quite thick and bulky under my legs (as if Fanny isn't wide enough, the bulk made me feel way out there!), BUT...the more you ride it, the more it conforms to you and the horse. I just haven't used it enough to get to that point yet. I hope to someday ;)

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