How to Get Started Horse Riding
Horse riding can be one of the most calming, enjoyable, and addictive experiences. Not only does the rider experience that feeling of freedom and oneness with nature that only a rider can know; the rider and horse bond can be something special. It is as if the rider and the horse both know a secret that only they get to enjoy when riding!
People love riding horses for different reasons. Maybe you want to feel like a cowboy in a western movie. Reasons range from the joy and thrill of horse riding to having horse-riding friends. (Those group riding experiences are simply amazing and memorable!). Some people experience a sense of adventure when riding and some people just love the way riding makes you experience nature in a whole new dimension.
For children and unskilled riders, horse riding can, however, be a risky endeavor — depending on the horse and the rider. That is why it is important to take horse riding lessons or learn horse and rider books or from an experienced rider before you ride off on your own. If you are the parent to a child who loves horses and riding horses, you want to make sure your child is safe when riding and has adequate riding skills. The best way to do this is to ensure they get the best possible training on how to ride a horse.
- Get the right clothes and equipment (see the guide for this). Horse riding requires skills. For instance, riding bareback if you are not experienced or without horse riding boots and other comfortable clothing can be not only uncomfortable but unsafe. Riding without stirrups before you are balanced or are secure on a firm saddle can be dangerous. These are some of the reasons why proper horse riding equipment and horse riding clothes are important.
- Basic beginner skills. A new rider needs to learn how to sit properly (yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to sit on a horse!) and firmly on the saddle, how to use the stirrups properly, and how to steer a horse or how to stop a horse. The lack of these basic skills will make the riding experience not only extremely difficult but dangerous. Dangers include falling off the horse.
- Unlike a vehicle, a horse is a living being or a pet. Forming a bond between you and the horse will go a long way in ensuring you have a good riding experience. (Find out more on proven ways to bond with your horse inside the guide).
- New riders mostly find that getting used to the reins is not as easy as they may have imagined. If you are watching a person riding a horse, it looks super easy but it is not. How you hold the reins (whether in one hand or both) may depend on your instructor, but it is a delicate task you will need to get used to. Once you get used to it, however, it is — as they say — like riding a bicycle. You’ll never forget.
- Don’t rush to rush. Don’t be in a hurry to try to gallop and canter if you are a learner. Get used to riding before you attempt a higher speed. The joy is not in speeding, anyway. It’s a ride, not a race.
Here is a link to the Debbie Burgermeister How To Get Started Horse Riding Guide. This guide offers valuable insight for those starting out learning to ride and is an extremely useful tool for any parent who wants to help their child start learning to ride.
Debbie Burgermeister has a collection of beginner books that provide a step-by-step education pathway. Simply written and with clear instructions and illustrations are helpful for both the parent and the learner.
The Giddy Up Beginner Books are your next step after the guide that will help you answer all the questions you may have on riding a horse, horse grooming, horse riding clothes, etcetera. They will also help you avoid common horse riding mistakes new riders make. What are some of the most common horse riding mistakes?
Common mistakes new riders make:
- Trouble placing one’s foot in the stirrup (see the How To Ride A Horse book for the proper way to use the stirrup and other important instructions).
- Clinging to the horse with your feet and gripping the reins too tightly. New riders often feel unsafe and try to hold on too tight to the horse, which is something your instructor will tell you not to do.
- Some new riders forget that they should be guiding the horse and pay very little attention to the trail, focusing on the horse. This kind of thing happened to me once — but that was on a bike. As a new rider, I was more interested in the bike than where I was heading. As you can imagine, there was no happy ending to that ride. You probably won’t fall off the horse but you will not be leading the horse if you don’t even know where you are heading.
- Not knowing the right rein length. It’s like driving a car without knowing how near or far the steering wheel should be.
- Not knowing the right position for your hands and knees and not knowing how to sit properly on the saddle.
As a parent, you need to have a clear understanding of the basics of horse riding. It is only then that you can help your child learn how to ride a horse. But new learners are not just kids. Some grown-ups have a passion for horses and riding but have never had the chance or opportunity to ride. As a result, they end up taking lessons as adults. As they say, better late than never.
You should never let the lack of experience stop you from following your passion or your hobby. There are many riding schools, and a guide like this one How To Get Started Horse Riding, is written with you in mind (whether you are a learner or a parent). With the right skills and equipment, the sky is the limit. (Perhaps I should say the trail is the limit!)
Here’s to wishing you a happy riding experience. Have fun!