Horseback Riding For Beginners

Horseback Riding For Beginners: A Quick Guide to Your First Lesson

The big moment has arrived: you’re going horseback riding! For beginners this can be both exciting and – for some of you – a bit scary. A horse is a big animal: how are you going to control him? Supposing he bolts with you, or you fall off, or (insert frightening possibility of your choice...).

Relax! A big part of the horse riding skills you’ll learn is everything you need to stay safe while you’re on board.

Here’s what you can expect in your first lesson.

Hello Horse!

Remember, if you have a good experience you’ll come back for more lessons: so the riding stables will give you a quiet animal.

The Left Side is the Right Side

You’ll learn that everything is done on the left side of the horse, which includes mounting him.

The instructor will hold your horse next to the mounting block and explain how to tighten the girth before mounting, so the saddle doesn’t slip round the horse’s stomach when you put your weight in the stirrup.

Then he or she will hold the horse still while you mount. The fitter you are the easier it will be for you to swing yourself into that saddle. But don’t worry: if you have trouble, you will be given a ‘leg-up.’

Stepping Out

Far from taking off at break neck speed, your horse will stand still until you ask him to move.

Before that you’ll learn how to adjust your stirrups, hold the reins correctly and sit properly in the saddle. Then you’ll discover how to ask the horse to move off in walk.

You’ll feel very peculiar and wobbly and it’ll take a while before you can truly relax in the rhythm of the horse’s motion. The ‘aids’ will be explained to you, and how to turn and halt your horse.

But We’ve Only Just Started!

Just as you’re feeling comfortable, the hour will be up and it’ll be time to dismount and lead your horse back to the barn.

Get off your horse very slowly. During your ride you’ll have been using unaccustomed muscles: when you dismount walking will be a little tricky. If you don’t rush this part, you’ll be fine. But it will take a while for your legs to return to normal.

Doesn’t sound at all frightening, does it? Now you have enough information to make your first riding lesson a truly fun experience - one you’ll want to repeat!

Horseback Riding Tips For Beginners: Motivating The Lazy Horse

Posted on 2010-07-31

Before their first lesson, new riders are often afraid of their horses bolting into the blue. But the usual problem during horseback riding for beginners is the opposite: the horse is hard to get going.

This is particularly demoralizing for the raw beginner, who hasn’t developed enough leg power to deal effectively with a sluggish animal. He doesn’t know what else to but kick and hope for the best.

Learning to nag your horse with your legs is not the aim of horseback riding lessons, but what else can you do about the problem of laziness in your horse?

Possible Reasons for Laziness

Find out why the horse is so lazy. If he’s used several hours a day to teach beginners, he’ll have learned to ‘switch off.’ It’s his only way of coping with the constant stream of unbalanced riders on his back who use the reins to support themselves, forgetting there’s a mouth at the other end.

Other lazy horses may be overweight (a common and understandable reason for sluggishness) or have feed or medical explanations for their lack of energy. If you own the horse, check to see what the source of the problem is and what you can do to give him more pep.

Waking Up the Lazy Horse

Take a short whip to your horseback riding lessons, being sure not to hit your equine buddy inadvertently with it.

Ask him to move off in walk with quiet legs, and if he doesn’t respond, ask him with a quick jab of the heels. If he moves off, stroke his neck and tell him ‘good boy.’

If he doesn’t do as requested, tap him on the shoulder while applying your leg. You should get a reaction without having to resort to smacking him on his rear end, but if you do need to, make it one swift reinforcement of your leg aid.

Walk for half the length of the arena, then halt. Ask for walk again, repeating the above procedure until he walks off smartly. Continue this exercise until you can merely brush his sides with your legs for him to move energetically into walk. Praise him when he responds immediately.

Now ask him to transition into trot from walk, using the same methods as from halt to walk. By now the horse should be listening to you and respecting your aids. If at any time he ‘forgets,’ reinforce your aids with a swift tap of the whip.

If you’re consistent with this approach your horse will soon learn that it’s in his interests to do as you ask first time. Then you’ll start to build a riding partnership based on mutual respect that both of you can enjoy.

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