Can You Ride a Horse Without a Saddle?

Girl Riding Horse Bareback

Riding horses when we were young has been really part of the fun memories that we can ever think of. We have fallen a lot of times before but just laughed at it together with our parents. We rode horses before bareback and we never really care because it was more fun and exciting! Truly, riding horses without a saddle is incredibly different from one. And in this way, you will feel all the muscles of the horse working underneath your weight with all the connection and communication that you can establish with your horse.

Bareback horse riding can be done not just by kids but also by adults only that it requires more skills than the former. It is always good to reminisce good old horseback riding memories and bet you; you guys are thinking if you could still ride horses bareback and even wanting to try it out again. In here, I have mentioned some stuff that you might like to check on that will guide you and will remind you on how to ride horses without a saddle.

So can you ride a horse without a saddle? Of course, you can ride a horse without the convenience of having a saddle, but it will be a lot riskier, for the sake of truth. Security and safety are what saddles provide to horse riders. However, some can just be spontaneous and adventures that they wanted to ride without it beneath them. Bareback riding does require skills, balance, and coordination since the riders have nothing to depend on but only to himself and whatever skills he got. But with a continuous practice of this method, a rider can develop better muscle strength in thighs and coordination of the upper part of the body to hips and thighs.

Riding horses bareback can establish a good connection between the rider and the horse in a way that trust between the two parties will be the foundation. A deeper relationship with the horse and better responsiveness are what you usually obtain in this method of riding.

For most traditional riders, they believe that the best riders start being on barebacks for few years before switching to a more secure one. With the saddle on your horse, it will be easier for old riders because they have already acquired the needed balancing skills and muscle strength in that kind of activity. Meanwhile, some riders believe that it is better to start riding horses with saddle especially when it is your first time and riding bareback will come in time after continuous practices with and without saddles.

Starting out with the bareback riding

  1. In choosing the best horse, choose the ones that are the calm type and those with smooth gaits and healthy back because horses with high withers are those that can be uncomfortable to ride on. As starters for bareback, it is way better if you have been familiar with some of the skills needed even with saddles like halting, turning, walking, sitting the trot, posting trot and canters/lopes.
  2. Mounting on your horse needs you to have a sturdy mounting block as the safest way or have someone to lift your leg since you will not have stirrups to mount up to. Once on top and feeling all comfortable, you can finally have the best position you could ever have and as if you are using the support system of the saddle. Upon mounting, check on the alignment of your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel.
  3. Finding your balance is an essential part of bareback riding. You can start by walking the horse down, do some turns, halt and back-up until you get used to it. And by doing this, you can have someone to also guide the horse and who will act as a support. This will be doing focus and concentration since it is something new to you and your relationship with the horse is not yet been established.
  4. From then, you can now start trotting or have the two-beat gait. In this part, you should keep your knees, hips, and ankles supple and springy, so the absorbance of the horse’s movement is present while you are on the horse’s back. Upon sitting on the trot in a very comfortable manner, posting can be done after by rising up on one beat of the trot then sitting down on the next beat. A trot on a bareback ride is a lot easier than with saddle because in here, you can predict or anticipate the movements of the horse before the adjustment of your seat.
  5. After trotting comes cantering, a three-beat gait with a rocking motion. To be able to switch from trot to canter, you should sit down comfortably while deepening your seat then you could finally move your outside leg back and squeeze.

Other tips that can be added on your list

Learning how to trot and canter smoothly with a saddle can help greatly when you starting on the bareback riding. While you are on it, proper breathing is essential since it affects your flexibility and weight. Also, keep in mind that you must feel relaxed when riding horses, in general, most, especially, if you don’t have a saddle. A clear and a focused mind is needed to avoid any accidents on the ride.

Clenching with your legs when losing balance is something that you should avoid in doing since horses tend to set this as a go signal to strongly walk or run forward. For those people who usually lean back with their legs being pushed forward while riding, this one should also be avoided. In this position, if your horse tries to move or run faster, you might be left behind and eventually fall off the ground.

While you are still starting on your bareback riding journey, you must not go outside a ring or arena or any small area with fence until you become good at it and not until you become very comfortable with maintaining your balance and control on top of the horse.

Related Questions:

What are bareback pads?

These pads are used to make bareback riding more comfortable for both the horse and the rider. There are variations of bareback pads, in fact, they can be either felt wool or be made in synthetic material with different colors. Just like saddles, some pads have stirrups. Some riders prefer using this while on bareback ride. However, this cannot be used as a substitute for saddles since it may cause twisting around the horse’s barrel.

What is bareback bronc riding?

This one is a part of the rodeo event wherein the bronc or bronco without a saddle (the horse) attempts to throw off the rider. Horses that are being used in this kind of competition are usually the ones that are trained and bred for greater strength, agility and bucking ability.

How do you develop balance in simple ways?

  1. Sit upright as if you have a saddle underneath you.
  2. Lengthen your legs and lie them naturally on both sides of the horse without wrapping your legs around the body or the horse’s barrel.
  3. Try walking and do small jogs at first until you develop the feeling of security while on top and having in control of the horse.
  4. Adding some circles and turns after the walks and jogs are advisable as part of the start-up.
  5. Explore more of your skills as well as the horse’s capabilities by doing some routine without ever losing your balance and focus.


I have owned over 50 horses and currently own a small horse farm with 8 horses. I have competed on and off for over 25 years while doing mostly trail riding and cow sorting these days. I write these articles to help anyone out there if you love this article pin it to your Pinterest or Share on other social media platform. Thanks for visiting.

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