Thursday, October 18, 2012


Would ya look at that?!

Went out to ride the boy last night, another late night ride, I think we both must be night owls - everything just works out for us late at night.

We did a bit of a warmup and I was fooling around with getting him to trot the barrel pattern, and then I was getting him to do figure 8's around two barrels - No hands! GOOD BOY. It was just one of those rides were I was kind of goofing around with him, and he seemed happy to follow along. Then I asked him to lope his left lead and BAM, perfect, absolutely fricken beautiful. I loped a small circle, one-handed, reins on his neck, and he just loped nice and slow around the circle, didn't try to break down, didn't try to throw a fit, just nice and slow and quiet.

His right lead wasn't AS pretty, of course, but he wasn't taking the circle so I asked him to lope the rail, which he did, and then as we came down to the end of the arena I got him to lope a small circle - he did it, beautifully. GOOD BOY.

Then, we trotted the barrel pattern, and loped home. He used his hind end and whipped around the barrel. GOOD BOY.

& Then... well, I decided to do something I've never done before...

Last weekend a friend of mine came out and asked if i've ever ridden Jingle bareback, which I haven't. He probably didn't mean anything of it, but it, for some stupid reason, the comment stung a bit, and then he made some comment along the lines of "Jingle doesn't like when I put weight on his back". Jingle isn't weird about weight on his back?! WTF?! I always lay over him and cuddle him.

I don't exactly love riding bareback, I used to ride bareback a lot when I rode outside in -30, because it would be too cold to even think about a saddle. & trust me, loping through snow drifts bareback gives you some darn good balance, and good core strength.
I then, at 18, attempted to jump on a green horse bareback and was dumped on my bum and broke my wrist pretty badly. After that I really only liked riding one horse bareback, Jed, to bring horses in, in the morning, but I trusted him with my life. He was one of those horses that would correct for you if you lost your balance, and like, attempt to catch you if you went to slip off. He was wicked. My core balance isn't bad - I can jog, post, and lope bareback, but honestly, I just prefer riding in a saddle.

& then I looked down at my horse that follows me around like a puppy, and clearly loves me as much as I love him, and thought - well, let's try this. I got up on a step and put weight on his back, he was fine, laid over his back, he was fine, put a leg over his back, he was fine. Then it got to that point where I realized MY horse was perfectly fine, and I was the one with the issue. This realization happens for me almost daily. So I clambered up there. He seemed confused at first, and only wanted to back up, so I asked him to turn a couple circles to get used to my weight, and then asked him to move forward - he wouldn't. I then, once again, realized this was MY ISSUE and so I sat up, pulled on my big girl pants, and nudged my horse and told him to walk, and then he did. We wandered around the arena, he cooled down, and I gave him a massive hug and told him once more, GOOD BOY.

I love my horse.
My mom once asked me if Jingle was the horse I should buy, and at the time I was unsure, I knew buying him was an emotionally loaded purchase. Now I know that he's becoming the horse that I should have bought, and I'm becoming the rider that he needs.
Such a nice warm fuzzy feeling.

Do you guys ride bareback at all, any Stacy Westfall readers out there?! or are you like me and prefer to be seated in a saddle?


  1. I have to say since I started riding as an adult I am not much of a bareback rider, I just slip off the side even at a walk, lol. But my cutting horse one day i did get on her bareback and she kept looking back at me like I was crazy. I just did a little walk and trot and then quit before I fell off. I should do more I'm sure it would help my balance immensely but I have so say I love my saddle and prefer to ride in it too.

  2. I'm so glad you're seeing progress with Jingle. :)

    I used to ride bareback all the time. I preferred it to riding in a saddle. I'd jump on any old horse without a saddle and go galloping off over the hills with never a second thought.

    Now that I'm 30 instead of 15, though, my opinions on saddles has changed. I never had a bad accident that would have been prevented by being in a saddle, but I did have a lot of incidental tumbles. Where I used to fall off and get back on and that was it, now I suffer for days every time I hit the ground.

    More than that, though, I've learned more about riding with my whole body, and the truth is it's much harder (I don't say impossible, but harder) to ride really well without a saddle. When you're working on refining a horse so he is able to respond to the smallest shifts in your body weight and position, riding bareback is bound to create some unintended sloppiness, which will cause confusion in the horse and slow this process down.

    So I'm with you. I prefer a saddle. Although on some super cold days in the winter I still like to leave the saddle off and take advantage of the fuzzy horse warmth.

  3. It's so weird for me. Riding bare back has been like the most important goal for me. I've written many blog posts about it. I've had a few pretty rough bareback falls, but nothing terrible, but I've always been so afraid of a lope bareback. But other than that, I can walk and trot for days. I trail ride bareback, I walk around the ranch bareback, I do arena work bare most recent feat was bareback with only a rope around her neck all over the ranch. I am constantly working on becoming a better bareback rider, one of my biggest goals is be able to do anything I can do in a saddle, bareback.

    It's something just so perfect about you and your horse and nothing else. Especially with sensitive horses (which is pretty much all I ride) the communication is so much better, and I've found they seem to be much better when bareback because since they have less touching them (saddle, pad, etc) they are less overwhelmed and have clearer cues.