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.