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Issue 11 2013
If you can sit on a horse well at all gaits, then you are a good rider!
Riding bareback teaches you to use your legs, creates exceptional
balance and feel, and it's also fun. Frankly, it teaches you to ride!
Sitting competently while bareback is only learned by actually doing
it. The easiest way to learn is on a gentle horse in a safe place so
you have control and can build confidence. A round pen is about as
safe a place as you can get.
It's also helpful to have an assistant or ground person to help you.
Put a halter and lead rope on your horse and have your helper handle
the rope from the middle of the pen. If possible, have two helpers
one on either side of the horse to catch you if you fall as you
mount and/or dismount.
Ways to Mount Bareback
#1 Simple - Stand on a 5-gallon bucket or mounting block to give
yourself a lift.
#2 Boost - Have a helper hoist you up by taking your left leg by the
shinbone and boosting you straight up. Hold your horse's mane for
extra support and lift or pull you way up.
#3 Swing or Jump up with out any help. This is the most difficult,
but well worth knowing how.
#4 Fence Use a longe whip or swagger stick to direct your horse
left or right. When your horse is in good position for mounting, rub
the top of his back with your boot or hand, just to make sure he isn't
going to spook. When your horse accepts your presence, kneel down
on his back with one knee, still holding the fence rail should you nee
an emergency escape. Then sit down gently on his back. Don't ride
off immediately. Wait there a moment. Teaching your horse to wait
on you is invaluable throughout your training. He learns patience and
to wait for your commands.
In learning to ride bareback, safety is the most important thing.
Occasionally you might become unbalanced and fall of. Instead of
being at the mercy of your horse, make an exit or move that keeps
you out of harm's way. As a young cowboy, I learned the following
maneuver from riding bulls for 20 years, and it saved me countless
It's basically a flying dismount. For example, if you lean to the right
and find yourself past the point of no return, make a big move to throw
your left leg over the horse's neck and your body away from the horse.
The idea is to land on your feet or on your hands and knees, face
down. If you have a lot of momentum as you hit the ground, simply
roll away from the horse. This prevents you from getting stepped on
or from being haphazardly thrown in a bad position.
by Craig Cameron
Riding Bareback
A Native Texan Craig Cameron, one of the original clinicians, is on the
road more than 44 weeks a year demonstrating the style of horsemanship
he has perfected in the last 23 years. Called the "public defender of the
horse," Craig dedicates himself to those who educate their horses by
first educating themselves. Clinic topics range from basic to advanced
horsemanship, colt starting, ranch and cattle work, problem-solving,
reining and trail obstacles. Craig has created a program that builds
confidence and trust between man and horse. Rather than fight the
animal, he offers patience and understanding that leaves the horse
wanting to do what is asked of him.
You can watch Craig on "Ride Smart with Craig Cameron" on RFD TV or
visit Craig Cameron's website,