For the past few weeks I haven’t been able to ride as much as I would have liked due to the heat wave the UK is experiencing. Most days it’s been above 20 degrees from sunrise to sunset and Bubbles has just had no energy so we haven’t done any schooling or proper work for over a week now.
Bare back evening hacks are something I’ve always done with Bubbles. It was something I did when I came down late in the evenings after work but I really wanted to ride. Instead of messing around with a saddle I just grab his bridle and my hat and we’re off! In the past few weeks I have been on more bare back hacks than ever. I understand that riding bare back can sound scary to some and the thought of going on a hack bare back might be even more terrifying but honestly, its amazing! You can really feel what is going on underneath you. It gives you a better insight into how your horse moves which you can then take into your schooling sessions. Bubbles is a Welsh Section D so he is quite stocky, therefore I’m lucky to say he is fairly comfortable to ride without a saddle, but I’ve ridden a few Thoroughbreds and TB X who weren’t as comfortable as they are leaner horses, so it might be worth using a numnah/saddle pad for your more athletic horses. As I have been riding bare back, when I jump off thighs and bum have been covered in horse hair, sweat and dirt. My brain only switched on the other day and I realised I could sit on a numnah and not get covered in filth! Duhh, problem solved!
During our saddle-less hacks we normally go for a walk around the lanes surrounding the yard. Even though I live in a fairly built up area, there is so much woodland and acres of fields dotted around the place. It can be beautiful. Where the yard is situated, we’re lucky to have such good hacking for such a built up area. We have however been bitten to death by horse flies! There are so many this year! My legs are covered in them so that has been slightly annoying but there isn’t much I can do about that! When I was first starting bare back riding with Bubbles I stuck to mostly walk. If you’re nervous, I’d recommend holding a piece of your horse’s mane (if you can). I wouldn’t hold a chunk that was on his actual neck as he will have more freedom to movement then and could accidentally unbalance you with an itch on his leg. If I hold onto his mane, I like to hold a chunk that is just a bit further on from his wither but not too far up his neck. I find it helps with stability if your horse suddenly spooks or speeds up.
Bare back riding has helped me improve my position. It helps me notice where my legs are and how they are positioned. I’ve always been a pretty tough critic when it comes to my riding and my legs are something that I always criticise, especially my lower leg. Upper leg I feel is okay, but I sometimes feel like my lower leg flies about a bit. Whenever me and Bubbles have a schooling session I will always do 15 minutes or so of non stirrup work. I personally love it. I feel that it really works you and improves you at the same time. Bare back riding is pretty similar. You’re able to notice your position and riding more without the need of others telling you. I think the first few times I tried bare back I was hunching forward to balance myself. Where as now I’m able to sit up straight and have my shoulders in a neutral position so my chest is open and I’m able to breathe.
Bubbles has been quite fresh the past few weeks due to the limited work he has been doing and now he’s pulled a shoe off so he has been in his stable for the past couple of days so as soon as that farrier comes we are getting back into work! I can’t fault him though. He’s been going beautifully the past few times I have ridden him. He’s been a proper delight to ride. If we’ve gone out on a cooler evening we’ve been doing some trot work. With him having so much energy at the moment he has tried to run off and sitting to him whilst he speeds isn’t the easiest thing to do. With him being a Welshie he has quite choppy strides so when he goes into a faster trot it can get very bouncy! To avoid that I have been riding him with a contact, asking him for trot, sitting deep, legs tucked in and just letting my hips go with his movement. A lot of our stress and tension from work or lives in general go into our hips so I understand that it might be hard for some riders to let their hips move as they might be so stiff but the more you let them go the more movement and freedom you will gain. If I feel Bubbles is trying to speed up I will maintain my position, shorten my reins and politely pull back. The worst thing you can do is panic. Yes you’re bare back and it can be scary, but we all know that panicking around a horse never ever helps. Remember what you’ve learnt. You’re not a bad rider, know how to ride with a saddle on. Riding bare back is pretty much the same as what you’ve always been taught, there’s just no saddle.
I would highly recommend bare back riding. I feel horse riding in general is something people should try out at least once in their lives however I understand if they don’t want to. Horses can be unpredictable creatures, no matter how much time we spend with them. They should always been treated with respect.
So the farrier is coming tomorrow, which means another day off for Bubbles again! He’ll be in for a shock tomorrow evening when the tack comes out!
I hope you all have a lovely day!
Love you all lots,