Horse Riding Lessons Blog

Which is the Best Horse Breed for Beginner Riders?

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Integrating Horse Riding Online Information into Your Riding Schedule

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For virtually every situation you encounter in the saddle there will be others who’ve been through the same issues. And luckily for you, a lot of those people will have posted their experiences of horse riding online for you to find.

Of course, your first resource will always be the person from whom you are taking horseback lessons. This trainer knows you and your horse better than a faceless online writer, and should be your initial point of contact when you encounter a problem or have a riding question.

But sometimes you’ll want to know how others have dealt with the issue, and compare notes or take advice from someone who’s been there, done that, and succeeded in overcoming it.

Forums

These are a good place to find answers to your questions. Simply put ‘horse forums’ into your browser and you’ll find a host of places where you can look up existing answers to your questions or post a question of your own.

You will be surprised at the number of responses you receive.

However, you need to be discerning about which to believe and which to take with a pinch of salt. Don’t be afraid to tell your trainer what you’ve found out. He or she will be pleased that you take your riding seriously and will be happy to help sort out the good from the bad advice.

If this doesn’t seem like a good route for you – perhaps you don’t see eye to eye with your trainer on something – then post the same question on several forums to see how many replies agree with the ones you got from the original forum.

You can always ask me a question, too!

 

Why Do Horses Wear Shoes?

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At some point in your horseback riding training you will notice that some horses wear shoes and others don’t. You may wonder why that is.

Isn’t Shoeing Horses Unnatural?

A horse in the wild doesn’t wear shoes. But neither does he get ridden by humans, so having a rider on his back is already unnatural for him. His legs and hooves have to cope with the extra weight, which puts additional pressure on them.

The stress of horseback riding training on a horse’s body makes it necessary to help him cope with the extra physical wear and tear on his hooves.

Some Horses Need Shoes More Than Others

Hooves come in all shapes and sizes and strengths. If you think of human nails, some are strong while others are very brittle. It’s the same for horses: some hooves need the added protection of shoes.

Some horses can perform everything the rider wants without shoes: then it’s only necessary to trim the hooves.

Like human nails, the hoof is growing all the time, and if it’s not trimmed back it will affect the horse’s way of going and make him stumble. Hooves can also get cracks in them or chunks can break off. These all need attending to.

For shallow feet, or soles which touch the ground, shoes raise the hoof off the ground and prevent the horse from getting sore.

Does Shoeing Hurt the Horse?

Next time the farrier comes to your boarding barn, watch how the horse reacts to having shoes nailed into his hoof. The more experienced horses simply fall asleep! Nailing shoes onto a horse’s hoof is as painful as putting a ring through your nail tip.

But not anyone can shoe a horse: the farrier is a licensed professional who knows where to drive the nail in without hitting and hurting the inside of the foot.

Corrective Shoeing

An experienced blacksmith can use shoes for assisting a horse with foot problems such as navicular. If a horse has bruised soles, the farrier protects them with a leather pad.

Over time careful shoeing can increase the size of the hoof to spread the weight of horse and rider over a larger surface area, thereby decreasing the pressure on the hoof.

For your horseback riding training your horse’s hooves must be in top condition. When you have a good farrier, who uses his skills to improve the horse’s comfort, shoeing helps many equines perform their jobs more easily.

Understanding Trot Diagonals

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You may wonder why any discussion on horseback riding for beginners should include ‘trot diagonals.’ Surely they’re surely too complicated for horseback riding beginners to comprehend?

They’re actually very simple to grasp (honest!) and because trot diagonals are in the same league as canter leads, they’re essential for the beginner rider to learn. 

Why ‘Diagonals’?

A trotting horse moves his legs in diagonal pairs. One front leg and its opposite hind go forwards together, followed by the other diagonal.

If you haven’t learned how to rise to the trot, you’ll bounce around in the saddle. This is uncomfortable for you and the horse.

Rising to the Trot

In English riding, you learn to rise and lower your seat in and out of the saddle in rhythm to the two-time beat of the trot. Called ‘rising,’ or ‘posting,’ this is easier than sitting to the trot, and also the way to ride a horse in trot when warming him up even at the higher levels.

Posting to the trot relieves the pressure of your weight off the horse’s back and makes it easier for him to move underneath you than if you stay in the saddle.

The Correct Diagonal

As you learn to ride a horse you’ll notice it feels more natural to rise to the trot on a particular diagonal. The temptation is to rise to the same one all the time.

But the horse would develop lopsided muscles in his back, so it’s important to ensure you post to each diagonal equally. The notion of the ‘correct diagonal’ takes care of this.

How to Tell Which is the Correct Diagonal

You should rise out of the saddle when the horse’s outside shoulder is going forwards.

In horseback riding, for beginners it’s acceptable to glance down to see if you’ve got it right when you start to trot. The outside shoulder is the one on the right if you’re riding to the left, and the left shoulder when you’re riding to the right.

If you find yourself on the wrong diagonal, simply sit in the saddle for two beats, instead of one, before rising in the one-two beat again. This will be a little uncomfortable, but lasts less than half a second.

When trail riding, be careful to switch diagonals from time to time even though you won’t have a clearly defined inside and outside shoulder.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about diagonals: it can sometimes take a while before it’s clear whether you’re rising to the correct one.

Can Your Beginner Level Horse Teach You How to Jump?

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Maybe you’ve been taking riding instruction for a while on a horse that makes you feel safe and are wondering whether you’ll be able to learn how to jump with him in the future? This is the equine which helped you learn to ride a horse, and you don’t want to switch animals for your jumping lessons.

Good Jumping Breeds

Theoretically all horses are able to jump, but some are better at it than others and bred especially for the job. The German warmbloods are a great example of versatile horses able to perform dressage and jump well.

Irish Draft horses are another great jumping breed, often crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce lighter and more agile mounts for dressage and jumping.

Back to Your Beginner Horse

However, if you want to take jumping instruction on the horse you’ve learn to ride on, it doesn’t matter if he’s not able to jump high, as long as he’s had sufficient training to teach you the basics.

Even a horse with natural jumping ability needs to be trained properly under saddle. Having a rider on his back completely changes a horse’s balance and he needs to relearn how to jump with this unfamiliar burden.

Your Horse’s Jumping Experience

Chances are you’ve learned horseback riding on a school master, which is a big plus. So find out from your instructor what jumping experience your ‘comfort zone’ horse has had.

Once he’s taught you the basics of jumping, it won’t matter if he can’t jump higher: he’ll have given you the tools and the confidence to move onto another horse that can.

Since a general rule of thumb is that a horse should be able to jump approximately three feet, you should have no worries. Your current horse will be able to take care of your jumping requirements for a long time before you need to switch.