Horseback riding has been the de facto object of adventure due to mainstream media’s affection for western cowboys wielding guns and riding majestically on mares. But then, outside of its mainstream exotic appeal, it’s an exhilarating activity that can be carried out alone or with company.
Learning how to ride a horse isn’t particularly difficult, but like every other thing in the movies, it isn’t as easy as it seems. Here are a few tips to help eager learners understand how horseback riding is done.
- When picking a company to learn, make sure you go for one with a good reputation. It should look well-kept and organized. Also, make sure that your instructor is Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA)-certified and has experience in training beginners.
- Wearing the right outfit can go a long way in helping you have a smoother ride. Long pants will protect your legs from rubbing against the saddle, and close-toed shoes with small heels help keep the feet from slipping out of the stirrups.
- Cowboy hats aren’t standard outfit material but can be worn.
- If it’s the first time you’ll be riding on a horse, try to arrive 15 minutes earlier to spend time with the horse. Stand in front and to the left of the horse when meeting the horse. It will help the horse get accustomed to you.
- When leading the horse, stand to its left and hold the reins with one hand below the horse’s chin, and the other hand further down to prevent the rein from dragging on the ground.
- Before climbing the saddle, make sure the equipment is properly placed. Ensure the stirrups are of the right length, and the straps on the bridle aren’t too tight that they restrict the horse’s breathing.
- If you’re not yet comfortable with getting on the horse without help, look for a mounting block, and position the horse such that the block is on the left hand of the horse.
- Getting on the horse should be done gently and carefully. Put your left leg in the left stirrup first, and then put your right hand on the back of the saddle and gently lift yourself up, swinging your right leg over the horse’s back. Once you have both legs on the two sides of the horse, sit down and put both your legs in the stirrups.
- Most horses have four speed paces – walk, trot, canter, and gallop. The walk is the easiest and most comfortable pace for both the rider and the horse. All you have to do is to relax in the saddle and move with the horse.
- To increase your pace to a trot, gently squeeze the sides of the horse with the insides of your legs. If that doesn’t work, give the horse a gentle kick with the heels.
- When reining in the horse, be gentle with the reins to avoid a jerking reaction from the horse that can throw you off balance.
- When you’re done with the exercise, walk the horse for around 10-15 minutes to help it blow off steam.
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