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.
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.