Learn To Ride A Horse

What Color is a Safe Horse?

This is, of course, a trick question. There are a lot of factors to consider in looking for the best mount when you first learn to ride a horse and color shouldn’t be one of them, as you’ll see below.

So here are some points to bear in mind which will increase your chances of finding your ideal equine partner.

1. Color

You may want your horse to be a certain color: let me scotch that dream before it takes deep hold in your heart!

There is a well-known equestrian saying: “A good horse has no color” meaning “great horses come in all colors.”

The color of a horse will have no bearing on his suitability for you, so don’t ignore a good horse because you don’t like his coat.

2. Age

A horse used to be considered ‘aged’ when he was over ten years old. But horse care has improved immensely, and our equine friends are now living well into their upper twenties and mid thirties.

Since older horses are preferable for the horse riding beginner, this gives a good age range to choose from without the worry that the right horse will not stay around for long. So don’t shy away from a horse in his late teens, just because of his age.

3. Temperament

Some horses are temperamentally unsuitable if you’re just starting to learn to ride a horse, no matter what their age. These are notably the Arab and Thoroughbred types which tend to be hot-headed their entire lives through. They are wonderful horses, but too much for beginners to handle.

You need a placid horse - not easily frightened, yet not thoroughly lazy either.

4. Experience

The more your horse has seen and done before he comes to you, the better. If he’s been ridden on roads and is used to traffic; has been to horse shows and is not excited by the atmosphere; loads easily onto your trailer or horse van; is easy to catch and shoe as well as being fun for you to ride – he’s a serious contender.

5. Gender

Beginner riders should stay well clear of stallions, as they need special handling, otherwise they can be very dangerous.

A gelding is best for the inexperienced rider. He’ll be more amenable than a stallion and not as potentially moody as a mare, as the latter come into season every twenty-one days.

Luck and compromise are involved when searching for your ideal horse, but if you follow the above advice you’ll greatly increase your odds of a successful match.

Learn to Ride a Horse the Right Way

Posted on 2010-07-01

As the saying goes, ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well.’ If you apply this when you learn to ride a horse, you’ll develop into a real equestrian instead of remaining a rank amateur.

The mental approach decides progress in any sport and this is especially true when you learn to ride a horse. You’re not dealing with an inanimate object, and need create a bond between you both.

Approach riding with the right attitude and you’ll form the basis for success with horses.

Approach to the Horse

We’ve already said that a horse is a living being, but how does that impact you when you learn to ride?

A horse needs you to show consideration for him, and I’ve found the best way to achieve this is to imagine what it would be like for me if I had a bit in my mouth and had to carry a burden on my back.

The Mouth

Horses feel pain, fear and anxiety with a desire to flee from them. Be aware that at the end of those reins is a sentient mouth. Don’t haul around on it! Be sensitive to any indication from your horse that he’s unhappy. Horses are genuine creatures, and you must assume that any head tossing, teeth grinding, tongue hanging, etc. is the result of pain in his mouth.

So don’t chastise the horse – investigate the source of the behavior. The bit may be uncomfortable because it is incorrectly adjusted, or too strong or the wrong shape. Perhaps the noseband is too tight and he cannot breathe properly. Maybe his teeth have sharp edges – have them checked.

Before assuming that the horse is just being ornery, make sure he’s not justified in his ‘bad’ behavior.

The Back

When you sit in the saddle, imagine carrying a backpack that constantly hangs to one side. You’d always be walking crookedly, trying to compensate for that uneven weight distribution.

It’s the same for your horse. He can’t move well if you don’t sit in the middle of the saddle, and stay in balance with him as he moves. While you ride, do spot checks on yourself to ensure you’re not putting your weight to one side. Other issues to monitor are leaning too far forwards, adding more weight to his already heavy forehand or leaning too far back and pressing on his loins – his ‘engine.’

Your Approach to Riding

Riding can be very frustrating! Developing good mental habits will make smooth experiences the rule, and help you to negotiate the tough patches.

Habit #1: Stay Relaxed

Relax and your horse will relax with you. He’ll listen to your aids and try his best for you.

Habit #2: Be Patient

Be patient with yourself as well as your horse. You won’t learn to ride a horse overnight, and you won’t apply the aids correctly until you’ve practiced them over and over.

So allow yourself time to learn them, and forgive your horse for not understanding any badly executed aids.

Habit #3: Develop a Sense of Humor

This is probably the hardest lesson of all, but I can tell you from experience that the sooner you learn to laugh at your mistakes, the better off you’ll be.

All riders fall off at some time, jump the wrong course or perform the wrong dressage movement. Act like the professionals – shrug it off, put the bad moments behind you and move on.

A true equestrian shows consideration for every horse and exhibits real sportsmanship at all times. Strive to become such an athlete. Your example will be imitated by others and their horses will benefit.

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When Can I Go Trail Riding?

Posted on 2010-05-29

For many people the reason they want to learn to ride a horse is in order to go out on trail rides. To make sure you enjoy trail riding, it’s important to know when you’re ready to do this, and how to approach your first outing.

Riding Level

You don’t have to be an experienced horse person to go on a trail ride, but you must know the basics.

This means being able to walk, trot and canter a horse and slow him down on command. If you’re in a lesson environment, make sure you can apply the aids effectively, away from the other riders.

Type of Horse

Ride a quiet animal which doesn’t spook easily and has frequently been off the property.

If you’ll be riding on the roads, it’s vital the horse be safe in traffic.

Don’t Go It Alone!

No matter how quiet your mount is, you shouldn’t attempt your first trail ride by yourself. Take a very experienced rider on an equally quiet horse with you for safety.

An advantage of a competent riding companion is that should your horse start to go a little too fast, he won’t stray far from his slower buddy. Horses are very social animals and like to stay with their own kind.

Recommended Pace

Be smart and stay in walk when you learn to ride a horse on the trails. Later build up to a few trots and only canter when you feel really sure of your horse and secure in the saddle.

Don’t ever change pace without warning your companion - who should be careful not to do the same to you, either. Give yourselves and your horses time to prepare for any upward or downward transitions by warning each other of your intentions and making sure you’re both O.K. with them.

The ebook Horse Riding Lessons: Teaching Yourself to Ride includes a great deal more information about taking your first trail ride and contains numerous safety tips to ensure pleasant trail riding.

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