Bareback riding

Riding bareback over a jump

Bareback riding is a form of horseback riding without a saddle. It requires skill, balance, and coordination, as the rider does not have any equipment to compensate for errors of balance or skill.

Proponents of bareback riding argue that riding in this fashion is natural,[clarification needed] allows considerable communication with the horse, and improves a rider's balance. The drawbacks include a higher risk of injury due to an increased risk of falling off the horse, the potential to develop poor riding form, and the possibility of considerable discomfort to both horse and rider due to the absence of a supporting tree and any padding between the rider's seat bones and the horse's spine. Over time, it is more fatiguing to both horse and rider to ride bareback.

In certain situations, bareback riding is particularly suitable. Many riders ride bareback for a short distance to save time. It is also common for a rider who takes a horse in one direction and walks back on foot, such as when moving the horse between pastures, to ride the horse with just a bridle so they don't have to carry a saddle on the return. In other cases, for example, if a horse is allowed to swim in a river, lake or ocean, it is practical to leave expensive leather horse tack off to avoid damage. It is also common for riders in extreme cold weather to ride bareback for short pleasure rides in situations where heavy winter clothing makes it hazardous to ride with a saddle due to the difficulty of sitting correctly in a saddle while wearing thick insulated clothing or the potential of a large snow boot hanging in a stirrup.