Be the Master of Bareback Riding: How To Ride A Horse Without A Saddle or Bridle?

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 04/01/23 •  7 min read

Bareback riding is not a cup of tea for everyone.

Yes, it’s a delicate skill for all horseback riders to ride without saddle or bridle, and becoming a master of this skill isn’t easy at any cost. 

But it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible (& you can’t). 

With the right tactics, tips, tricks, and a lot of practice, it’s obviously achievable. 

Today, I will talk about Bareback Riding and how can you ride your horse without a saddle or bridle like a pro.

But first……..Is it OK to ride a horse without a saddle?

Yes, it is completely okay to ride a horse without a saddle. 

In fact, our ancestors were doing this for centuries. It is called Bareback-bronc riding. They started riding bareback around 400 BC.

Yeah, horse riding was back then too!

And surprisingly, riding a horse without the saddle can help you develop better equilibrium, strength, and coordination.

Most importantly, a better connection with your horse. 

It is the first baby step in learning bareback riding. Although riding a horse without a saddle is a wonderful experience, it’s also vital to understand that there are a number of safety precautions that you must follow.

How do you ride a horse without a saddle or a rein?

Riding a horse without a saddle is all about your connection and understanding with your horse. 

The equation is simple:

The stronger your connection is, the smoother your ride will be. 

But one thing we have to confess first…….

Riding without a saddle is a gradual learning process for both the owner and the horse. You will gain this understanding with time and practice.

#1. A trained horse:

First and foremost, your horse should be well-trained to ride proficiently with the saddle in order to learn how to ride without it. With a well-trained one, the horse will be able to pick and respond to the newly taught cues in a better way. 

If your horse is not comfortable with riding without a saddle, your experience can be horrible and dangerous. 

#2. Start by removing the stirrups first:

Removing the stirrups is a good first step toward learning to ride bareback. This step will help you to learn how to position your feet and legs without support. 

#3. Maintain your balance:

Remove the saddle gradually and mount it on the bareback. 

Here is the crucial part……

Now, you will have to balance yourself on your center of gravity without holding the horse. This step will take a lot of practice to learn because sitting without a saddle is difficult.

So, go slowly!

4. Be relaxed:

Relax your body and do not stiffen your legs. 

Avoid making sudden moments, as this can cause the horse to start moving without your direction. Maintain your upright position on the horse.

5. Teach the cues:


Horses can sense the shifting body positions and languages even before you make them. Teach them to halt when you put pressure on your tailbone. 

Here is the good practice to cope easily……

Steer around and maneuver the horse with leg pressure.

Related: Find the perfect horse saddle type for your needs! We offer an extensive selection of treeless, western, English, and specialty saddles to fit any budget. Shop now!

6. Start slowly & increase the pace gradually:

Start by limiting your no-saddle riding to brief sessions. Only take short walks in straight lines and loops. Take your sweet time to master every step one by one.

So, how do you ride a horse without a bridle or bit?

Let’s be honest- Horse riding without a bridle is more complicated than riding without a saddle. 

Because it’s technically free riding!

Obviously, it’s more fun (& challenging). Learning to ride successfully without a bridle can take you and your horse a few months. So, be patient and keep practicing.  

You may probably be thinking- Is bridle painful for horses?

Well, not really if you find the right one. So, how do you control a horse without a bridle? Here are some tips…..

#1. Teach your horse to catch body language & voice clues:

The horses that are best suited for bridleless riding are those that are adept at interpreting body expressions and vocal clues. Moreover, they should be able to stop well off of their seat. 

#2. Avoid face-pressure Cues:

Normally, horses are taught to steer by the pressure applied on their faces through bridles. For bridleless riding, you will have to give cues to the horse using your legs and body position. 

#3. Use a neck rope:

Unlike a bridle, the loop of neck rope goes loosely around the neck of the horse. With the neck rope, you can steer your horse using different cues. The neck reining will also require you to guide the horse with leg pressure.  

#4. Teach to turn well off leg pressure:

Your major technique for controlling a bridleless horse will be leg pressure. In order to instruct the horse to turn towards a specific direction, you must stretch the leg opposite that direction.

Related: Learn the key similarities and differences between Wade and Association Saddle styles. Discover which is best for you and your horse’s needs.

Surprising benefits of horse riding without a saddle or bit:

If you are a horse lover and want to build a remarkable connection and unison with your horse, bareback riding is an excellent fun way to explore.

But yes, it is a little complicated process. Here are 6 benefits of horseback riding without a saddle:

Tips to become a pro bareback rider without a saddle or bit:

Note: Wear safety gear such as a helmet and knee pads to avoid any hazards while training. 


There is no short and straightforward formula to learning this form of horse riding. It is a slow and gradual learning process for both the owner and the horse. 

Keep in mind……

Horses are mighty animals having the capability to understand body language and emotions. Thus, bareback and bridleless riding teaches us how to guide and communicate with the horse through bodily cues. 

Practice more and give your horse time to adapt to new riding experiences.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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