How to Ride a Horse Bareback

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People have been riding horses for over 4500 years, and from the start, they’ve been doing it sans saddle. But riding bareback isn’t easy. If you really want to become more interesting, though, here’s how to ditch the saddle without eating dirt.

1) Saddle Up

You’ve got to use it to lose it. Ditching the saddle right away is a recipe for disaster—it’s better to slowly wean yourself off it. So lose the crutches one by one. Start by taking your feet out of the stirrups. Afterwards, stop relying on the pommel and then the cantle (the slopes of the saddle seat). With practice, your balance will improve.

2) Know Thine Horse

Get familiar with your horse’s quirks. It’s important to know how it behaves, since mounting without a saddle may confuse it. Also, double-check the horse’s withers, the ridge between the shoulder blades. A horse with low or narrow withers may make you slide around, whereas high withers may be uncomfortable for your nether region.

3) Mount It

Since there are no stirrups to help you up, you may need a friend to give you a boost. If you’re alone, a stepladder or mounting block is handy. Another method is to stand at the horse’s side—the barrel—and hoist your torso onto its back. Swing one leg around as if you’re climbing a fence.

4) Visit Your Chiropractor

Sit a smidge higher than usual, resting your legs between the shoulders and barrel. Sit up straight and pretend your feet are still in stirrups, angling your heels below your toes.

5) Go with the Flow

Start with an easy walk. You’ll be able to feel the horse’s muscles rippling beneath your legs. With each step, your center of balance will shift. Stay relaxed and pretend your bottom is loaded with springs. Don’t lean back or hunch forward. That may cause your legs—and center of balance—to shift.

6) Give Yourself a Hand

It’s easy to clench your legs if you lose balance. But your horse may think this is a cue to speed up, which will make falling off inevitable. If that happens, it’s okay to gently grab onto the mane. When you’ve mastered walking, gradually speed up. You’ll now arrive as the toughest hombre at any pony ride!
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Riding a horse bareback will definitely make you more interesting, but it’s also pretty terrifying and will require some practice. Looking for an easier way to give yourself a little swagger? Crack into a Dos Equis.

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August 19, 2013 - 11:00am
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