When you were a kid, and eventually caught your naughty, dirty old pony out in the field, knocked off most of the dried mud, and wrestled the bridle on, you didn’t care about taking time to find the girth and get the saddle lifted up on his back. You just led him over to the upturned bucket in the yard, gave a hop, straddled the wide, plump barrel and off you went, gathering reins and dropping your crop as you bounced and laughed your way down the driveway to meet friends for a ride.

Oh, my how times and the years change things! Now, you have to have a saddle. With a basket sticky seat, knee rolls, thigh blocks, strapped on with a double wingding stretchy girth, latest in 7-way breastplates, grippy sticky non-slip reins attached to a multi platinum Swedish soft metal super mouth bit and bridle. The mounting block is a three-step or even four-step. The pony has morphed into a draft cross with the patience of a saint and the energy of a gnat. There are neck ropes, neck straps, “oh sh#t” straps, breastplates, breaststraps, braided handholds, rolled handholds, buckled handholds, and the plain old long mane to hang onto. And we still fall off alarmingly often. Sigh. Being old.

There, there, old timer, you can still relive your youth — leave that saddle in the tack room and find the old jeans to wear – don’t need no sticky seats. Pull the current pony out of the field, throw on the bridle, leave the saddle in the barn, grab a neck strap, and swing your right leg over that plump back and mount up for a bareback ride. Why not? It all comes back to you like riding a bike. You even take your courage in hand and ask for a quiet little trotty-trot and wonder of wonders, you don’t even slide to the side but keep your butt in the middle! Your back gets a good workout and your legs don’t need to grip any more – your balance keeps you “there”. Take care you don’t hang on those reins, now — use that strap, or the mane! What amazing fun and why don’t we do that more often? I’m going back to barebackin’! Why don’t you try it? How long has it been since you rode bareback? Go for it!

— Holly

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