Great horse riding tips
Horse-riding is such an exhilarating experience, but can also be nerve-wracking, especially for first-timers. But, by following a few guidelines, they can ensure the activity is as fun and pleasant as it’s meant to be. Dealing with live animals requires a bit of patience and expertise, that’s why it’s important for newbies to be guided by an expert. When done right, horseback riding can be relaxing, therapeutic, rejuvenating, not to mention a serious workout. Here are a few tips to help you relax and overcome the anxiety in the saddle.
Wear the Right Gear
While this might seem obvious, a lot of new riders don’t wear the part. Riders should wear long pants to prevent legs from chafing against the saddle, cowboy boots or a pair of closed-toed shoes with a slight heel to keep feet from slipping through the stirrups, and a helmet to protect the head in case of a fall. Avoid any clothing or accessory that could get tangled like scarves and purses.
Be Gentle with the Horse
A horse is a living creature capable of feeling tired, nervous, or even scared with an unfamiliar presence. When approaching a horse, riders should make their presence known by walking in an arc, avoiding direct eye contact, and ensuring the horse is facing their direction. When in close proximity, one should greet the horse by extending their arm and offering the back of their hand for the horse to smell, then wait for the horse to touch the hand with his nose, after which they can pet the horse gently. This offers an opportunity to establish a good relationship from the beginning.
Mount with Confidence
A horse can feel if a rider is nervous and become uneasy too. Most horses are trained to be mounted on the left side, so be sure to follow that rule accordingly. Most trainers will hold the horse’s head when riders are mounting to keep the horse still. If the horse is still moving, it’s best to let him find a balance point. When mounting, riders should ensure their weight is evenly distributed.
Sit Up Straight
Even though professional jockeys often hunch to ride as fast as possible, newbies can’t do that since they still need to learn how to control their horses. The best position to do so is to sit up straight, ensuring the back and shoulders are straight and relaxed, as well as, set the widest part of the foot in each stirrup. In addition, riders should hold the reins gently and hold their balance so the horse doesn’t feel like he’s carrying a heavier load.
Dismount Like a Pro
Once the rider is ready to get off, they should ensure the horse is still and let someone else hold the horse while they dismount. To dismount, get both feet off the stirrups, lean forward, hold both reins with the left hand, use the right hand to grab the pommel of the saddle, slowly swing the right leg over the horse, and carefully slide towards the ground.
Watch Others Ride
There’s a lot that newbies can learn from advanced riders, including their strengths, weaknesses, and how they school their horses. There are several places that one can watch others ride, including their own barn, heading to local shows, and even tuning into top competitions on TV.
Don’t Give Up
Becoming an excellent rider takes time. Therefore, don’t expect to get it right the first time. Some accidents are unavoidable, like a horse tripping and throwing riders off balance. In the case of such accidents, riders should go with their instincts. If they feel fine, they can get back on the horse and try again, but they shouldn’t be proud or afraid to get off. After all, safety comes first, plus horses run on instinct, which means if a rider is scared, the horse will most likely get scared too.
Practice as Much as Possible
Just like learning any other new skill, practice makes perfect. For that reason, new riders should create time to ride more often if they are to better their riding abilities.