Know Before You Go: Horseback Riding
For some people, horseback riding is a sport, for others – a hobby or original entertainment of aristocrats. Be that as it may, a horse is no longer a luxury, and everyone can learn to ride. It’s as easy as starting to drive a car.
But what’s the right way to handle an 1100-pound animal? How to sit on it, how not to collide with other riders while riding? And what to wear on horseback riding? You will find out the answers to these and other questions in this article.
Preparing for horse riding
Start with theory
Check out as much information as possible on how to ride horses, how to operate them, how it is maintained, what it eats and how to properly care for it. Understanding these things will allow you to more quickly and better comprehend the material that the instructor will teach during the training.
Take care of your physical fitness
It may seem that while riding a horse, only an animal is working, while a human is resting. This is not true. Maintaining posture and correct position in the saddle requires physical strength and endurance from the rider. You will have to work with your legs, pressing your thighs against the horse, and your arms and back will also be tense. Therefore, if you are not confident in your physical fitness, get yourself in shape before you start learning to ride a horse.
The horse is a large animal and can accidentally or deliberately injure the rider. Therefore, having an experienced instructor is primarily a safety issue. It is he who will give you theoretical knowledge, instruct you on safety and supervise its implementation.
Find a stable and trainers you trust. The place should be clean and well maintained and the instructor should be respected. Follow the commands your instructor gives you. Make the most of your training so that the basic skills are at an excellent level.
Dress the part
For the first time, any comfortable clothing will be relevant: jeans or trousers that will cover your legs, closed-toe shoes, and a loose sweater or T-shirt. Be sure to wear a helmet. Also, remember that your clothing should not have any dangling elements that could snag or get tangled in the equipment. Therefore, scarves, long T-shirts or shirts, skirts, and loose-fitting trousers are best left for later.
If you are planning serious horse riding, you can purchase special clothing. Usually, the set includes seamless trousers, long boots with a small heel, a thin shirt, a short wool jacket, gloves, and a helmet.
Don’t be late
It is better to come for the first time horse riding 30 minutes earlier to look around. You cannot be late for training, as horses are prepared in advance, exactly at the appointed time.
How to behave with a horse? Basic tips for horseback riding
Before you start communicating with these animals, you should learn about how they see the world around them. All horses have keen eyesight, can see almost 360 degrees around the body, have excellent hearing, and have a good sense of fear and danger. Therefore, you need to confidently approach the animal, speak with it in a calm voice and avoid sudden movements. Also remember that a horse is a living creature, not something like a car. Therefore, for you and the animal to be comfortable, it is important to establish contact.
Training horses are quite loyal to new riders and do not show aggressiveness. During the acquaintance, gently pat the animal on the neck, and talk to it in a soft, calm voice – they like it, and they respond with friendliness. With the permission of the instructor, the animal can be feed carrots or apples. However, do not feed unfamiliar horses. They may be inaccurate in taking food and biting you, or they may be on a diet due to illness and your treat will be undesirable.
Consider the nature of the animal
Each animal has its character, temperament, habits, and characteristics. Even a good rider cannot handle every animal. Therefore, it is important to ride different horses at the initial stage of training so that you can learn to correctly understand the horse’s mood.
Also, keep in mind that horses have herd instincts. The cheerful mood of one animal can easily be transferred to another. If your animal has succumbed to the general panic, stay cool, and give a calm but persistent hand and foot commands.
Don’t be scared if the animal is unfriendly. This may be because it has health problems, is spoiled, or is trained in such a way to communicate with strangers. In a poorly tuned animal, the ears are flattened, the legs are tense, and the head and tail are raised.
Stick to the rules
Feel free that some riding rules may seem strange. However, the rules must be followed. For example, according to tradition, you need to mount a horse on the left side. The fact is that many centuries ago, riders wore a scabbard with a sword or epee on their left side, so it was easier to throw the right leg over the horse’s back. This tradition has survived, and if you unknowingly try to mount the horse on the right side, it may get scared.
If your family and friends come to watch you ride, warn them that horses don’t like loud noise. Therefore, loud voices, small children running, or sudden movements can scare the animal and even lead to a fall from the horse.
Control your emotions
Riding a horse requires maximum concentration, otherwise, nothing will work. It is impossible to ride a horse and think about anything else. This is work with oneself and a living creature.
How to mount a horse? Horseback riding for dummies
Check your equipment before getting into the saddle. It must be correctly positioned on the horse’s body, securely fastened, and not restrict the animal’s breathing. Ask an instructor to help you with this process if you are not sure what things to look out for.
How to mount a horse?
To understand how to mount a horse, the easiest way is to watch a training video on YouTube or another video hosting. Rest assured, there is nothing difficult about this, and if you follow the tips, you will succeed the first time.
How to stay in the saddle?
Use your thighs to help you stay in the saddle. To learn how to maintain correct posture, follow the instructor’s advice exactly. Hold the reins firmly and keep your shoulders straight. This is important as you can slip off the saddle when cornering or in strong crosswinds.
How do you drive a horse?
The animal is controlled by commands, which the rider gives with the help of the reins, as well as the legs, pressing the heel on the sides of the animal. The instructor will help you with this. Keep in mind, however, that many horses are not accustomed to jerky movements and may be jittery, responding to painful commands from the rider.
A beginner in horseback riding must, first of all, learn several types of movement, gaits: step, trot, canter, gallop and amble. Walking is good for walking. Moving at a trot will require certain skills from the rider. Experienced riders can launch a horse into a rapid gallop.
All these skills are mastered gradually, depending on the level of physical fitness of the rider. The trot and gallop paces also require adaptive control of the horse, good sensitivity, and body control.
At the initial stage, a beginner’s training is usually carried out using a long rein, which is in the hands of the instructor. Therefore, control at this stage is out of the question. While working in the riding hall, the skills that are required to perform the trot are practiced. The rider must learn to make the swinging movements in time with the horse’s running.
Stopping and dismounting a horse
It is believed that pulling the reins is necessary to stop the animal, but this is painful for the animal. Therefore, learn how to stop the animal with your legs and body, clarifying all the details with the instructor.
How to dismount a horse?
Remember how to mount a horse? To dismount the horse, repeat the same movements, but in reverse order. Before doing this, make sure the horse stops and does not move.
Traffic rules on the arena
Different riding halls have their own rules of movement for horses. Learn about these rules and remember them. At the same time, usually, those riders who ride slowly are closer to the wall. However, in some arenas, the extreme lane is occupied by galloping riders.
Keep your distance
Always maintain a distance between animals, at least 6-7 feet. If you ride one behind the other, you should be able to see the other horse’s hooves. Never let horses sniff each other. They can be aggressive. Some horses get very scared if another runs too close.
Evaluate the trajectory of the riders in the arena
Observe other people, and watch who moves in what direction, so as not to disrupt your own and others’ movement.
How to disperse with other riders?
When you are entrusted with independent horse riding, observe the basic rule – to disperse with your left shoulders. That is, oncoming riders must pass you on the left side. If you could not understand the maneuver of another rider, it is better to pause and let him pass.
Learn the rules of falling off a horse
The instructor should tell you how to fall and group correctly. Practice on the ground. This is important because a correct fall will prevent serious injury.
What to do after training?
If you ride your horse, walk with it for 10-15 minutes to keep its body cool and relaxed. Remember that the animal cannot be watered or fed for an hour after training.
Also, the horse should not be allowed to tilt its head to the ground if the saddle girths are tightly tightened. At this point, just behind the front legs, a hematoma may form. If this happens, then until the hematoma passes, you can ride this horse only without a saddle.
Strictly adhere to all the recommendations that your instructor gives you, and do not be discouraged if something does not work out right away. You can confidently stay in the saddle after 2-3 months of training twice a week. Therefore, give yourself time and try to enjoy riding and communicating with these amazing, intelligent, and kind animals.