Go Eventing … Bareback!

Carrie's student Julia Muir and her horse, Sophie. Photo courtesy of Mulks Eventing. Carrie's student Julia Muir and her horse, Sophie. Photo courtesy of Mulks Eventing.

Many of us associate bareback riding with childhood barn adventures — bombing around on ponies beyond the four-board fence of adult supervision, testing the boundaries of our bravery and balance.

Area VIII eventer Carrie Mulks, who operates her training program Mulks Eventing out of Williamston, Michigan, remembers those days fondly. As an active Pony Club kid who would later graduate with her “B” rating, Carrie was a master of spit-and-polish horsemanship but also knew how to have a little fun.

“I jumped bareback all the time when I was little and I feel it made huge improvements in my riding and balance,” Carrie recalls.

Riding sans saddle is an experience she now brings to her own lesson program. “I have been really pushing my students to do more no-stirrup work and no-saddle work both on the flat and over fences to help improve their balance and quickly overcome some bad habits they have, like leaning one way or another or taking your knees off the tack while jumping.”

Carrie's student Elizabeth Walter and her horse, Cappie. Photo courtesy of Mulks Eventing.

Carrie’s student Elizabeth Walter and her horse, Cappie. Photo courtesy of Mulks Eventing.

Carrie makes a great point: Riding bareback (if your horse’s wither conformation allows!) can be a useful tool whether you’re 14 or 40. There’s no better way to identify imbalances, whether it’s unequally weighted seatbones or a one-sidedness in your horse, feel connected to what’s going on beneath you, and develop rider core strength.

While some events offer novelty bareback exhibitions, like the PRO Bareback Puissance at Plantation Field and the Bareback Gambler’s Choice at Fair Hill, opportunities to put the average eventer’s sticky britches to the test are few and far between. This weekend, however, Mulks Eventing is offering a unique competition with bareback challenges for all experience levels.

“I have never run a show before but I have a cute course and lots of space so why not open it up for friends!,” Carrie says.

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“We are right in the middle of show season and I thought I nice, fun, kind of silly show would be the perfect way to ease the tension before the big end-of-the-year shows,” she explains. “Plus, it not only gives everyone show jumping practice but also pushes them to fix their flaws. Hopefully no one is expecting some big formal show, but learning, fun and a lot of laughs — at least for me, for sure!”

For more information on the show, visit CarrieMulksEventing.com.

Go Eventing … Bareback!

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