How can I train my horse to let me ride him bareback?

Question: I am 13 and riding for all my life, I have a thoroughbred 9-year-old ex-racehorse 15.3hands. He is very brave when I’m out, he doesn’t spook at much!! I have had him for a fair time now, and know his little habits (etc.) But, the thing is I would like to ride him bareback, but he is very scared even when I lean on his back. I would like to train and build him up to let me ride him bareback. He does know and trust me but it’s just this that he doesn’t like it!! PLEASE HELP ME. I need some advice on what to do, how to train him. Please help me, thank you. It will be much appreciated.

Answer from April Reeves: Hi Caragh. This is a common problem for many horses, and it is not because they are afraid, especially since it sounds as if you already ride him. It is likely because he is not use to having a rider in such close contact with the sensitive back muscles, and having you sit on them without a saddle in-between can be very uncomfortable at first.

I rode Max once a week bareback (advantages of riding bareback), and every time I got on him he shuddered. He was ticklish and never got use to me getting on him, even though we did this for 5 years. Once I was on though he was great!

One thing I did before getting on was to stand on a tall mounting block (so that you can just slide on easily). I rubbed and patted the areas that I was about to sit on, in the attempt to desensitize Max as much as possible. He liked this part. This was a big help. Try not to lean on him though: it may be putting pressure on back muscles that may be sore or just sensitive.

You can also try an interim measure with a bareback pad. This will cushion you and the horse and transition him into learning about your weight and feeling you move around.

Being an ex-racehorse, this ticklish sensitive skin issue does not surprise me. Like Max, he may be like this forever.

One thing to maybe have a look at is whether the horse is sore. Often the saddle can buffer a bit of the pain, but the direct contact of a rider can often be the catalyst to a buck or rear or bolt. The muscles along the back are connected from the poll to the back hock: they are not separate. Once the horse is in pain in one area, they borrow from the 700 muscles in their body and eventually the horse is in pain all over. You will know if your horse has back issues: gently run your hand down either side of the spine. If he dips and tries to avoid your hand, it’s 99.99% likely he’s sore. That is a whole other problem that will continue to get worse in time.

Advertisements

4 responses to “How can I train my horse to let me ride him bareback?

  1. ju-fa-ya welsh pony stud

    make sense to what you say or he can also take a thin baby blanket if he dont have a pad,practice makes perfect.
    april i’m sorry to take advantage , i’m looking for books on training in longreingh and bitting for in harness ponies. the problem i got is that my ponies dont carry there head setting i know i’ts mussle training but how and what must i do. thanking you

  2. That was fantastic, thank you so much for your time and effort. This was much appreciated. Once again, thank you. :-)

  3. How do I get my horse not to buck when I get on her? Every one of my siblings and even my trainer has gotten bucked off of her. Where do I start the training, I need steps like where would I start a round pen?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s