No Stirrups on Bareback Pads, Please


Riding bareback is fun, but — at least with my horses — adding a bareback pad makes it a lot more comfortable. The pad cushions the horse’s spine and withers, and often the pad will give you some purchase, especially if you use a pad that is made from suede.

Riding bareback is great for your balance and allows you to really feel how your horse’s back moves under your seat. And vice versa. Some horses find that being ridden bareback transmits too much information from the rider’s seat and can make them jumpy and anxious, so the first time you jump on your horse bareback, mount carefully and try to keep your seat soft.

One thing you should avoid when riding with a bareback pad is stirrups. Yes, it’s tempting to have the extra security they afford, but there are two reasons why it’s a bad idea:

First, is a rider concern. With a conventional saddle (and most treeless saddles), there is enough structure built into the saddle to keep it pretty secure on top of the horse. If you step hard on one stirrup when riding in a saddle (and your girth is tight), the saddle should not slip to that side. A bareback pad does not have that stability. Even if the girth is wicked tight, there is no structure to the pad to prevent if from slipping. If your pad slips and your feet are caught in the stirrups, you can get badly. 

Second is a horse concern. When you ride with stirrups using a bareback pad, the weight you put in the stirrups is transferred to the horse’s back, right behind the withers. This is painful for the horse because it puts pressure on the nerves that run along the spine. If you ride repeatedly with a bareback pad and stirrups, you will likely start to find white hairs under the area where the stirrups are attached, a sure sign that there’s too much pressure.

Best choice is to ride stirrup-free. For added support, try one of the shaped bareback pads like the BareTek pad or the new Phantom bareback pad. I have heard anecdotally that the Little Joe bareback pad, which does have the option for stirrups, does not cause the same problems, but I’ve never tried one, so can’t confirm it. If you have access to a saddle pad that helps protect the horse’s back by creating a gullet over its spine (Skito, saddleright, HAF), it’s a good idea to use one.

Or, try a treeless saddle like a Barefoot, a Torsion, or a Freeform. These saddles give you the very close feel of riding bareback but with some additional security.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “No Stirrups on Bareback Pads, Please

  1. I too ride bareback, but was unhappy with the style of some of the bareback pads out there. I am looking for someone who rides regularly to demo one of my custom bareback pads. I have used suede leather, covered the upper strap the holds the dee rings with an extra layer of seat leather, and used equestrian anti fungal felt for contact on the horse side. It is ment to be used with western billets, latigo and cinch. I would love anyone to contact me if you would like to demo one and offer feedback to better improve the product. I didn’t add stirrups for the above listed reasons, however what are some opinions on dee rings for breast collars? Thank you for your input.

  2. Blue-Skye

    I know I’m jumping on late — but if you’re still looking for someone to demo your bareback pad, Colette, I’m game!
    My mare has high withers, so it’s uncomfortable to go without a pad. And right now, she’d having some back pain that preventing me from using a saddle (until my custom one is done). Feel free to email if you’re still around!

  3. I’m 15 years, and because of arthritis, it’s hard for me to be squeezed in a saddle. So, therefore I ride bareback. I started riding without ANYthing, just sitting on my mare’s bare back. I ride another horse now, as she’s injured (poor Nala), and he’s a pony. I ride him with a nice socalled “riding girth” (http://www.hooks.dk/product.aspx?productid=330203), with a blanket under. Much comfortable! Of course without stirrups. Last time I did so, I was about to fall off and get caught.

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