Tips for a Horse Riding Beginner

Horse riding is   one of the most fulfilling hobbies you can take up. It is fun and comes with loads of health benefits like good posturing, stronger core muscles and better body coordination. However, it is a common mistake for horse riding beginners to think of it as simple as mounting a horse and galloping away. It takes some skills to control a big animal that has the potential to do heavy damage. Here are a few tips you can use for safety and a smoother ride.

Get the safety briefing

Just like a driving instructor gives basic vehicle safety training, so should the stable keeper (ostler) or trainer give a briefing on how to handle a horse safely. This is very crucial as an aggressive horse can  be dangerous to a rider who does not know how to handle it.

Dress for riding

The helmet is a must. If the stable does not have one, carry your own or rent one. It is advisable that you wear long trousers to  avoid getting chafed on the inner thighs and calves. Avoid clothing that can get tangled in the equipment, for example, long-sleeved shirts or ties.

Know the horse

A horse has a sharp sense of smell and is naturally apprehensive of strange people and animals. Spend at least 15 minutes with the horse before trying to mount. This will let him smell you and get familiar to your voice.

Know the approach

If you are an absolute beginner, it would be good for the trainer to lead you to the horse and demonstrate the approach. Generally, horses will react badly to an approach from the back and could kick you badly. Approach from the front and slightly to the left of the horse, and do it confidently. Most horses will be trained for a left side mounting, so mount from that side.  Pull yourself up without hanging too much weight on the saddle. If you can’t pull yourself up, ask for a boost.

Proper posture

Sit upright on the saddle with an imaginary straight line running from the seat through the shoulder to the ear.   The reins should be held low for easier control.  The widest part of your foot should rest easy on the stirrup. Avoid gripping the horse tightly with the legs. It takes some time to master the squatting pose of a jockey, so first master resting easy on the saddle while the horse is walking.

Master the cadence

Coordinating with the horse’s movements avoids bumping hard on the saddle. Better coordination comes with time, making your rides smoother and more fun.

Top 5 Horse Riding Tips for a Beginner

Getting on a horse unaccompanied for the first time is both an exhilarating and nervous affair. Here is an animal that can effortlessly carry you at three times your running speed. However, man has ridden the horse since time immemorial so it is an art that you can muster quickly. It will require patience attention and most of all respect for the horse. Here are some tips that will have you riding like a pro in a short time.

Befriending the horse

If a horse is not familiar with you he could get jumpy and even aggressive. When approaching him always make your presence known by walking in an arc towards him. Try to avoid eye contact while doing so which avoids making the wrong body language. Extend your hand towards the horse and try to nudge or pat him to make a bond.

Mounting a restless horse

A common mistake with beginners is trying to make the horse stand still before mounting. If the horse is moving about you should try to control the direction to which he is moving and try to find a point at which he is well balanced. Do not hang from saddle like you are climbing a tree but instead spread your weight on the two sides of the horse by pushing on the opposing side when mounting.

Sitting securely on the saddle

It is common to feel wobbly when on the saddle. This is corrected by sitting upright on the saddle which you do by imagining a straight line going from your ear to shoulder and down to your hips. Your feet should rest easy in the stirrup.

Controlling the horse

Controlling a horse involves a mix of body positioning, verbal commands and rein adjustments. A horse will get the signal to move if you give a verbal cue like ‘whoa’ and sit deep in the saddle. If the horse bolts suddenly, using the 1-rein technique can bring him under control. This is done by pulling gently but tightly to one side so that the horse’s head is turned. This will make him move around in a circle.

Breathe in tandem

Your body movements should be coordinated with the up and down movement of the horse. Breathing in tandem is one way of syncing these movements. In a canter or trot you should force your breathing to be coordinated with the horse’s until a rhythm kicks in.

Being a good rider comes with practice. It also comes by learning your horse and knowing his likes and dislikes so that he can enjoy the ride too.