Can people ride horses without horse saddles?
Although horse riders have been using saddles for centuries, our ancestors didn’t have this luxury for millennia. Ever since it was invented, the saddle brought convenience to riders and comfort to both them and their horses.
Riders do not use horse saddles simply because they are accustomed to them. Horse saddles anchor the rider in place; help them balance their gravity centers to that of their horse, and offer the convenience of adjustability. Let’s dive deeper into the importance of a saddle for horse riders:
A comfortable riding experience
All horse saddles are designed to be more comfortable than a horse’s spine. The most common material most saddles are built from is leather, more specifically cattle hide. Various pads and accessories were invented to make ‘saddled’ horse riding even more pleasurable in recent times.
Some may argue that saddles can cause pain to the horse, though. This is true in the case of poorly-fitted saddles, but a well-made, correctly placed, and the adjusted saddle is actually helping the horse support the rider, protecting its spine and back.
One of the most important functions of a horse saddle is preventing the rider from slipping. Any fall could lead to debilitating injuries at high speeds, although slipping off from a stationary horse can be just as dangerous.
Given that riders can hold onto their saddles, the risk of falling is drastically minimized. Conversely, should a person ride a horse without a saddle and start to slip, they would have to grab the horse’s neck to prevent an accident, which could scare the horse and result in both plummeting to the ground.
Horse riders are free to pick a horse saddle from various models and companies. The back of a horse isn’t changeable or customizable, so the rider would have to adapt to it entirely or use a different horse.
Another reason we need horse saddles is that we can change the saddle model or send the one we like to saddle makers to refine and change to provide more comfort, a better fit, or improved support.
Can We Ride Without Horse Saddle?
The ‘saddle-less’ riding technique is called ‘bareback riding,’ and even though it’s a viable option for some riders, it should be noted that it’s both riskier and far more challenging in comparison to traditional riding styles.
Some of the main requirements for riding horseback include:
- Exceptional balance, as the rider won’t have anything to hold onto
- Good coordination and reaction time, else the rider will easily slip and fall
- High stamina. Bareback riding causes more muscle strain and fatigue
Drawbacks of Bareback Riding
There are a few factors that could potentially dissuade horse riders from the bareback riding style, including:
- Learning the basics from scratch. Everything from mounting to galloping requires an entirely different skillset
- Little room for error. Every mistake will either hurt the horse or the rider.
- Finding the right horse. Riding a horse with excessively high withers can be an agonizing experience
- A steep learning curve. While horse riding is difficult as it is with a saddle, it’s even more so without the support of a saddle.