Getting started with horse riding

What to consider when taking up horse riding

Horse riding is a hobby that can be taken up by anyone at any stage of life. Children, teenagers, adults and people with a disability are able to start riding a horse with a little planning.

What are the benefits of horse riding?

There are many excellent reasons to take up horse riding as a hobby. It is an activity that has physical and mental benefits.

. Firstly, it takes muscle strength to control a horse and to remain seated on the animal’s back. Leg muscles, especially the inner thigh, and core muscles will become toned and developed. Horse riding also burns calories, with around five calories per minute used during general riding practice. You can find out more about the specifics here

. Sharing time with an animal and making a connection is spiritually up lifting. Being outside in natural surroundings can enhance the mood very quickly. At any age, learning a new skill and overcoming challenges is good for the mind and will protect against depression. Most people with physical and mental disabilities find considerable enjoyment riding horses.

How to get started

It is not necessary to own a horse to take up horse riding. In fact, it is a good idea to try the hobby for a length of time before taking on the responsibility and expense of owning a pony. The best way to get started is to have riding lessons in an equestrian centre. There are a few things to think about when selecting the best riding school to go to.

Safety is paramount. No one wants to get hurt doing their chosen hobby, and suffering an injury early on will put most people off riding forever. With this in mind, a close check of the schools in an area should be carried out to see how organised they are, how well maintained and if the staff appear knowledgeable. Teachers with coaching qualifications are a good sign.

The equipment available for beginners should be noted. Some schools will lend hard hats and body protection, others will hire them out, but they should be insisting that every rider has the right safety gear for riding.

Getting to and from the school should be considered. A riding school that is either near to home, or easy to get to will cut down on travel time and make riding more enjoyable.

Ask about the costs involved so that there are no surprises. Lessons can sometimes be more economical if they are shared in a small group rather than one to one tuition.

What to expect from a beginner’s horse riding lesson

It is important to arrive suitably dressed for a riding lesson. Long trousers of some sort such as jeans or jodhpurs are required to protect the legs. Footwear should be sturdy with a closed toe, and a small heel is desirable to prevent the stirrups from slipping. Clothing that is loose or can become untied should be avoided as it might get caught or distract the horses.

At first, simply getting used to horses and learning how they behave is part of the lesson. It is a good idea to arrive a little early to the early lessons to get familiar with the sights and sounds of a riding environment. Behaving in a confident and calm manner will help, and always approaching a horse from the front are good habits to get in to. How to sit correctly in a saddle, how to hold the reins and some simple commands will be the first things to learn. How quickly all the skills are learnt will depend on the individual, but whether or not this is the ideal hobby should become evident within a few weeks.

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