Monday, April 14, 2008

riding light

Today I finally got around to trying out the Little Joe bareback pad that our good friend and fellow equestrienne Kate graciously loaned us. I was surprised to discover that it fits the pony (12.2h), Cody (15.3h), and Keil Bay (a very wide 16.2h).

My daughter has been using it on her pony and on Cody, and loved it from the first ride. She said it was like sitting on a cloud. I believed her, but she rides bareback without much fuss as it is. I rode bareback on my first horse, many years ago, and loved it, but when I tried it one time on Keil Bay last year, it felt like I was being severed in two. Since Keil Bay is very broad-backed, I thought riding him bareback would be like sitting on a sofa!

Not so.

Today I put the Little Joe on him and had to get on the very top of our picnic table in order to mount. There are stirrup rings, but I figured the point of this is to ride au naturel, so didn't attach stirrups.

No pain! It was incredibly soft, comfortable, and secure.

I noted right away that his movement was especially free and he responded to light aids. We walked, we trotted, we cantered. It was wonderful. My daughter climbed on when I got off, and she felt so secure she cantered Keil Bay for the first time. He's pretty big for her, so when they stopped I asked about the canter. How was it?

She said, "It just went up and up and up!" He did a good job with her.

So we're ordering our own Little Joe. Actually this one will be my daughter's but she'll let me borrow it, and if I end up using it a lot, I'll get one of my own. Kate's is the gorgeous chocolate brown, and it looks so good on the pony my daughter wants that same color. I'd love to see the hunter green on Keil Bay.

I've also heard good things about Barefoot treeless saddles. I'm thinking about trying out the dressage model.


Grey Horse Matters said...

My daughter likes to ride bareback, I'll check into that Little Joe pad for her and see how it goes. Thanks for the info.

Rising Rainbow said...

I can remember the last time I rode bareback, it didn't feel very good or secure for that matter. This sounds like it might be ok.

billie said...

Arlene and MiKael, this pad really did make the difference for me on Keil Bay. It has billets that work with one of my dressage girths, and is very secure. It also has a grab strap for emergencies. :)

Mostly though, it is stable and very soft, and sueded leather so that you don't slide around at all. I have by no means tested a range of pads, but the ones I've seen aren't as thick, well-made, or aesthetically pleasing as this one is. I was surprised it worked so well for me.

Heidi the Hick said...

I love riding bareback. I did quite a bit of our mare's training bareback out of necessity. She has very soft skin and a fine coat, and I used the wrong cinch on her. Yup, I saddle sored her. I felt awful! I rode her bareback for a week and it went well. We didn't go faster than a trot though.

I use a big fluffy fleece cinch now and she's been fine.

Does this bareback saddle work with western cinches too?

billie said...

Heidi, it has billet straps but I would bet the two women who make these could easily make you one that works with a cinch. That's another reason I love these - they're hand-made and I'll be supporting a small business.

I should take a photo and post it - but the website shows the pad and shows the women riding with them. My guess is if you love riding bareback you'd love this. It adds a comfy layer beneath the seat and upper thigh but doesn't in any way (at least didn't for me) interfere with my legs. I could feel Keil Bay's back moving under me but w/o the distraction of the OUCH I feel on him totally bareback.

For me to canter him in it is an absolute sign that I felt not only secure, but GOOD. He has a huge canter and I'm not at all used to riding bareback these days!

I really love this pad. And my daughter hasn't used her saddles once since she tried the pad!