Saturday, January 1, 2011


I got a bareback pad for Christmas. I love it! It makes me feel like I'm cheating at riding bareback because it makes it so easy to stay centered and balanced (no slip and slide). I used it for a couple trail rides right after I got it and then decided to try it, and see how Coriander's feet felt, in the indoor next door.

With the pad I feel just as stable at the walk as I do with a saddle, so I decided to try out the trot. Easy peasy, too easy really. I forgot that he's not ready to carry me at a sitting trot. (His feet seem to be doing better though. He still doesn't have much frog but the deep crack is filled in and that's made him a lot more comfortable. He was much more forward in the arena than he's been in a long time.)

When I went out the next day, prepared to ride, he told me no. He came up to me to receive his treat and then walked away from me as soon as he got it in his mouth. He never does that. I followed him and he continued to walk away from me. Huh. What's going on with this horse?

I figured he might be sore, so I walked up to him again, this time he let me approach, and I ran my fingers down his back. You probably guessed it by now: his back dropped when I touched it. Ugh, that made me feel pretty rotten. Needless to say he didn't get ridden that day. I popped the saddle on Gwen and took her for a walk and did some mounting block work instead.

The next day I went back out, hoping that Coriander's back would feel better and we could go for a trail ride. As soon as he let me approach and halter him I knew we were good. We then went out and had a great ride, full of water crossings he didn't balk at, deer jumping around that he didn't bat an eye at, and wet snow that he carefully negotiated. He even offered up a nice, impulsive trot that I thoroughly enjoyed- while posting.

I learned my lesson, no more trotting with the bareback pad until I know his back is ready for it; and listen, really listen, when my horses do something that they've never done before.

PS: Coriander has also started doing something that I think is absolutely hysterical. I don't tie my horses when I'm working with them right outside of the pasture (Too trusting, I know, but it's a long way from the road and they won't voluntarily leave the herd.). They park themselves on the chaff pile and are content to stand there and eat while I do what I do, often without a halter. Which means sometimes I have to put the halter on to take him back into the pasture, only now when he sees me pick up the halter he just walks over to the gate and waits for me to open it for him. He says he don't need no stinking halter!


  1. Wonderful news that Coriander's feet are well on the way to being healed. Whew! I hope that some day I will be able to slip on Gem's back without a saddle. There is something quite romantic and exhilarating about it, being so connected with your horse. Some day.... :-) Once Coriander is used to bareback, is there a limit as to how often you can ride him like that? I understand that a saddle provides protection and balance for the horse. The reason I ask is that there is a young lady who only rides bareback now because she's too lazy to tack up. Is bareback an full-time option, in your opinion?

  2. As long as it doesn't make the horse's back sore I don't see why not. Kate says her daughter rides Dawn bareback all the time.

    It took me a while to screw up my courage and trail ride bareback with Coriander since he was so spooky at first. Make sure you try it out somewhere you feel safe when Gem is feeling super calm, and when you've got a really big mounting block so you don't have to struggle to get on ;)

  3. I might just try a bareback pad one of these days. I haven't really ridden bareback except when I was a kid. Even then I didn't really get to ride much but I did love to ride bareback when I got the opportunity although I never did master the art of getting on gracefully while riding bareback. LOL

    I like to teach my horses that I can work on them when they are loose. I think it's a great tool and my Dandy can get that "no stinkin' halter" attitude too. Hey, when they're good, they know it! LOL

  4. There is no such thing as getting on gracefully bareback, a mounting block is the only way to go. To me nothing beats being able to feel my horse breathe and their muscles slide, yes you can feel it with a saddle but it's muffled.

    Gwen forced me to do more liberty work since she reacted so negatively to feeling confined, but I like to see how much my boy appreciates it too. He cracks me up!

  5. I, too, am learning to listen to my horses more and more. Great job listening to your boy!

  6. It's amazing to me that horses can communicate with us and tell us when something is wrong. He's a smart boy and you're a smart rider for listening to what he wanted to tell you.

    Hope you have a lot of wonderful rides with your bareback pad this year.

  7. Well I'm getting better at interpreting horse speak. Maybe I'll be fluent someday, many, many years from now.