Are you planning to ride a horse for the first time? It is natural to feel nervous as you will be riding a relatively living, large animal. That is why it is vital to take guidance under a trained professional. Not only will you get the support and reassurance to feel comfortable and safe, but you get to learn the Basic Rules of Horseriding for beginners.
Here are 10 Horse Riding Tips that will make you an expert in the saddle.
1. Wear the Right Equipment
Proper footwear and long pants are necessary to ride a horse. Close-toed shoes can do the job, but having a pair of low-heeled boots (1-1.5 inches or 2.5-4cm) can prevent your feet from slipping through the stirrups. Avoid wearing scarves, purses, or other accessories that may tangle in the saddle, rein, trees, or bushes. More importantly, always wear a helmet for safety.
2. Greeting your Horse
Please remember your horse is a living creature just like you and not a vehicle that can be easily controlled at your will. The horse may get nervous, scared, or tired when a new person is riding him. When you are planning How to Ride a Horse, greet the horse when you’re introduced to him at the ranch for establishing a good rapport from the very beginning. For greeting your horse, you need to extend your arm and offer the back of your hand to him to smell and wait until he touches it with his nose.
3. Mounting with confidence
If you are going on a ranch vacation, you’ll find that the horses are trained to be mounted on the left side. Your guide will be holding your horse’s head while you’re mounting, but if that’s not the case, ask someone to do it, so he doesn’t move. One of the Basic Rules of Horseriding for beginners is lifting your left foot into the stirrup, hold both reins with your left hand and propel yourself up with your right leg, moving as smoothly as possible. Never push the horse down with your arms; this could hurt him; you can put your hands on his back, just for balance. If you’re nervous, the horse can feel it and may become uncomfortable too.
4. Don’t slouch; Sit up in a straight and relaxed position
Maybe you have watched the Kentucky Derby and felt excited to hunch to ride as quickly as possible like the professional jockeys. Well, keep in mind that riding a horse is all about relaxation. One of the crucial Horse Riding Tips for keeping control of your horse is sitting up straight and tall, relaxing your back, holding the reins gently, setting foot in each stirrup, and holding your balance not to make your horse feel like he’s carrying a heavy load.
5. Be gentle with the reins
Your riding technique might depend on which style you’re learning, English or Western. In English riding, take a rein in each hand, while in Western riding, you grab both reins in one hand. Never lift the reins above your shoulder level; your arms should usually form right angles at the elbow. Whichever you choose, relax your arms and never pull too hard, or you may hurt your horse.
To direct your horse to the left, move the left rein towards the left in a motion similar to opening a door. When steering to the right, do the same with the right harness. Stop by gently pulling back and pushing the heels down.
6. Don’t hold the saddle horn for balance
You will find a saddle horn in your horse tack, which you can hold on to. However, you should not count on the saddle horn to keep you balanced. If you feel unstable, try to adjust your posture, extend your legs or hold the reins more gently.
If you make a habit of holding the saddle horn, if there’s an unexpected situation along the way, this is a weak position for keeping your balance, and you’ll be more likely to fall. That’s why you should never get used to holding onto the saddle horn even when you’re just walking. So a crucial tip on How to Ride a horse is to learn correctly from the beginning instead of developing bad habits that may hurt you in the long run.
7. Keep your eyes where you’re going
Keep in mind not to fix your gaze on your horse while you ride. As beautiful as the animal is, you need to keep your eyes on the trail. Staring at your horse is similar to paying attention to the hood of your car while ignoring the road ahead. It is said that you should look ahead through the horse’s ears. But as long as you keep sight of the path while holding a straight posture, that should be enough to have a safe riding trip.
8. Stay in tune with your horse
One of the top Basic Rules of Horseriding for beginners is staying calm and moving your body in the rhythm of your horse. Feel the way he is walking and let him rock you from side to side without resisting. If you’re tense, you may bounce, get thrown off balance, and cause some discomfort in your back. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can let him do whatever he wants, but you can play the role of a leader.
9. There’s nothing wrong with just walking
Most horses have four gaits: walk, trot, canter, and gallop. As you have already figured out, galloping is not possible when you’ve just started with horse riding. The walk is the steadiest gait, and that could very well be the fastest you go when riding for the first time. One of the essential Horse Riding Tips is not to put your safety at risk just for the sake of impressing someone. You can probably start trotting at one point, but anything faster might not be the wisest decision as an amateur.
10. Dismount like a pro
Once you’re ready to dismount, make sure your horse is still. It is much better if someone holds the horse while you do so. Get both feet out of the stirrups, lean forward, swing your right leg over the horse, and jump off. Just as when you mounted, try to do it as smoothly as you can. Another important tip on How to Ride a horse is to thank your horse, give him some water and embrace the feeling of being back on the ground after a fantastic experience. You most possibly won’t be able to wait much longer to get back in the saddle!