Horse riding is an extremely fun and recreational activity that has not only physical, but also several mental benefits. Its physical benefits include a good exercise routine, good control over body movements, flexibility, and improvement in body posture. It relieves stress, helps develop a good and friendly bond with animals, inculcates patience and respect for animals, and also helps to learn control over emotions such as anger and fear. With all these benefits, horse riding can transform you in ways you may never have known possible.
Tips for Beginners
As a beginner if you want to learn how to ride a horse, it is vital that you begin learning under the guidance of a professional instructor. Trying to tame a horse, or beginning horse riding on your own can be dangerous. If you sign up at a school, it is good to know these tips in advance, as preparation to begin learning the art of horse riding.
- Before you begin riding, wear the right gear to ride a horse. Stretchable full length pants, boots designed particularly to ride horses (cowboy boots), a comfortable shirt or t-shirt, and a helmet. You may also want to wear velvet gloves to protect your hands. Velvet gloves are also gentle on the horse. Do not wear shorts while riding a horse or the friction will cause your legs to become sore, and painful.
- When you begin riding, advance towards your horse from the side. This is because a horse's eyes are placed on the sides, and it will be aware of your advancement towards it. If you approach it from the front and suddenly appear on the side, it may kick and injure you.
- Avoid sitting besides a horse, in an attempt to clean its hoofs. Sitting too close to it will put you at a higher risk of getting kicked by it. Also, while sitting, your reflexes will be slightly slower than while standing, so moving away quickly may be a challenge.
- While mounting a horse, mount from a position higher than the ground level. This should be practiced until you are comfortable with the horse. Mounting from the ground adds excess pressure on the horse which it may not be comfortable with. Also, ensure that you mount from the left side of the horse.
- Do not use the saddle for support while mounting, as it may slide off. Hold the cantle of the saddle and mount it. Swing your leg over the horse's back to sit on it. However, ensure that you do not accidentally kick the horse while mounting. Place your feet in the stirrups, which should be ankle length for your comfort.
- Begin with a walk; gently squeeze your calves on the horse to get it to start walking.
- Keep your chin up and your shoulders perpendicular to the horse's back. Keep your heels down while riding the horse. This position is like a brake for you, to prevent yourself from falling if the horse comes to a sudden stop.
- Allow yourself to move with the horse's movements. Don't try to move too much as this may disorient the horse and make it uncomfortable.
- Looking in the direction you want to go will guide the horse towards the same. Horses are known to discern even minor movements easily, so ensure you are looking in the right direction. Ensure the reins are in your hand. You may gently tug them to get the horse to turn in the direction you want. Do not tug too hard.
- To stop, tug the reins and sit tightly on the horse. You may require to lean back from the perpendicular position to prevent yourself from falling. Also, sink your heels into the stirrups to control your body movement. Gently pat the horse on the back as an appreciative gesture for obeying you.
Tips on Western Horse Riding
While the basic tips are similar for the English and Western style, there are some differences that are found in the western style. This is mainly in relation with the rein. One of the main tips you will be taught is to control the rein with one hand, which tugs the neck by applying slight pressure to the opposite side, to guide the direction of the horse. The gait and pace of a western style trained horse is also slightly different. It is trained to perform a full pivot, as you may have seen in several cowboy movies! However, as a beginner, refrain from performing such stunts as they can be extremely hazardous.
Tips for Kids
Kids above the age of 5 can begin attending horseback riding lessons. However, it must be remembered that children should not be left unattended with a horse. Either a parent, or an instructor must be with them and the horse at all times. Horse riding teaches kids patience at a young age, and being able to take care of an animal at such a tender age enhances their self-esteem. Thus, it is a great recreational activity, especially for children.
Horses are beautiful animals, and with these tips, you can develop a unique bond with them. It is a thrilling experience, and one that must be felt at least once in your lifetime.