A few months ago, I decided to do something that I always thought that I would like, but thought I may be too old to start. I did a quick Google search and after reading about a few stables in the area, I contacted one to start my horseback riding adventures. Actually, I contacted two and because I had no clue what I was doing, I started taking lessons at both. Fast forward to today and here I am in love with horseback riding, unable to decide which to continue with!
Most people picture themselves one of two ways when starting out. 1. You are cantering through a field with your hair blowing in the wind. or 2. You are hanging on for dear life while your horse is trying to throw you off. I can tell you first hand, neither of these are accurate. What I have found is that everyone is super supportive and although accidents happen, safety is your trainer’s primary concern. I am currently riding western but the guidelines I’m providing will be applicable to English as well.
Safety – Each facility will have its own rules, but you are dealing with a really powerful animal. I am an avid rule follower and in the first month I was kicked. Imagine if I hadn’t been following the rules! Wear your helmet, don’t walk behind the horse, ask when you need help getting the horse ready, and pass other horses the way they tell you.
Attire – You can always ask what to wear but as a rule of thumb, boots with a 1-2 inch heel, tight fitting and pants and long sleeved shirt and a helmet. Because I am a beginner, I have not yet splurged on my riding clothes, but I did get my own riding boots and helmet after one lesson. Keep in mind that the locations we go to are more relaxed, below you can find an example of what I wear to one of my lessons:
- Helmet! If you are planning to ride frequently, it is worth getting your own riding helmet. I have a Troxel brand helmet and have been very happy with it.
- Jeans or Breeches – I started riding in some comfortable jeans that had some stretch in them. After a few months, I am moving to breeches. People I ride with swear by them, so we will see how they are!
- Boots – You will need boots with a 1-2 inch heel and a moderate amount of grip. It is worth going to a boot store and trying on several pairs to see what is going to work best.
Tips for your first time riding:
- When steering your horse, use your legs to guide them. You will get a much better response from them than just using the reins.
- Look where you want to go. My instructor once told me, “If you look at the ground, that’s where you’ll end up.” Horses can feel your slight shifts in body weight, so look where you want to go and they’ll respond.
- Stirrups should be there for balance, not to stand in. If you can barely reach them or feel like you cant relax, just ask your instructor to adjust them. It makes a huge difference.
- Do a quick Google search of horse cues. How can you tell if a horse is stressed, relaxed, mad, etc. Knowing a horse is relaxed can give you confidence if you are a beginner and if they are showing signs of being annoyed, you can avoid a stressful situation.
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