Learn how to ride a horse, get back in the saddle or own a horse one day.
Ever been invited for horse riding and you couldn’t because you don’t know how to ride a horse or perhaps you are scared?
Riding a horse might be frightening at first but you will love it once you get accustomed to the saddle! It’s an exciting way to socialize, exercise your mind or to simply relax. The beauty is that almost anyone can learn how to ride a horse albeit with discipline, focus, and practice.
Whether you want to learn how to ride a horse as a pro or for fun, we have some tips to get you started.
Find a professional horse trainer and learn how to ride a horse from experienced horse people.
Ever heard of the saying “Learn from the experts, you will not live long enough to figure it all out by yourself.” Well, it is not possible to figure everything you need to know about horse riding by yourself.
As a beginner, finding a professional trainer is the best way to get started particularly in matters of safety. A trainer will provide tips and guidance on good horse controls, movements, horse cueing, turning and stopping the horse etc.
A horse riding trainer will get you started on the right foot as a beginner. Additionally, a trainer will reassure you and make you feel like a pro while learning. At Horse Riding Hub for example, you can get tailored horse training for beginners, kids, women, corporates and much more. You will also find useful learning resources to help you learn how to ride a horse including books, videos etc.
How To Ride A Horse – Selecting the horse
The other advantage that comes with getting a professional trainer is that they will help you select a suitable horse. Did you know that there are different disciplines of horse riding?
Horses are trained differently to perform different functions. For instance, we have horses trained for obstacles i.e. Jump logs, canter through streams and those trained for a basic, slow and comfortable ride. So, take time to pick a horse preferably with the help of a horse expert.
How To Ride A Horse – Handling the horse
Once you have selected a horse that best suits you, you need to learn how to handle it. Horses are precious animals that should be handled with care. After selecting the horse and before you begin your adventure, take time to familiarize yourself with the horse. Here are few tips to do so:
Know the Horses Body Parts and Saddlery parts.
Riding a horse without knowing its body and saddlery parts is not very wise. Imagine having an emergency and you are not sure what part does what? Or imagine owning a horse and not being able to tack it up?
It’s very important to familiarize yourself with major parts e.g. the muzzle, throat latch, flank, fetlock, hock, rump, frog, etc. Simply learn all parts and how they affect your ride.
Begin with a hello?
Yes, greeting the horse before a ride is just one of the ways of getting started on a positive note. Horses are wonderful living creatures that have emotions and sense.
When a new person wants to take them for a ride, they may tend to feel nervous or uneasy. Extending your arm and offering the back of your hand for the horse to smell and touch it with the nose, is a great way of reducing any possible tension. Take this time to understand the body language of the horse and create a connection before riding.
How To Ride A Horse – Prepare your horse for a ride.
The next thing you want to do is to prepare the horse for a ride. Just like cars, horses are prepared before take-off. Part of preparing a horse includes ensuring that you have the right equipment and that safety measures are put in place.
Have the equipment ready
It is very important to ensure that you and your horse have the right equipment before a ride. Ensure it is groomed properly, the saddle is safe and fitted correctly and that the halter and lead are tied correctly. Having the right equipment ensures that the horse is comfortable and you can have a safe ride.
You must also have the right equipment before any ride. A beginner’s starter pack includes boots, gloves, socks, helmet, jodhpurs, a saddlery gear pack etc.
Checking the horse Safety.
Checking the horse safety is also part of the horse preparation. For starters, check that the horse is in a good health condition with no injuries. Always handle the horse safely whether you are grooming or saddling it. Never horse ride without confirming the girth and adjusting stirrups are well fit and you can hold the reins correctly.
How To Ride A Horse – Getting ready for the ride
Saddling the horse.
Sit on the saddle with the feet in the stirrups. Sit on a level and balanced position, ensuring your body is not tilted forward or backward.
You should be balanced with your legs a bit forward and slightly bent. If not you might need to shorten or lengthen the leathers to get the correct leg position. A proper fitting saddle should sit level on the horses back. The saddle should not be pressing on the horse’s spine.
Girthing the horse.
To girth the horse, stand on the ride side of the horse (near side/left side). If saddle is not in the right position, move the saddle until the girth is in the correct place just behind the front leg.
Once the saddle is on the correct position, take hold of the strap under the top flap on the saddle, put it through the buckle on the girth and tighten it up enough just firm when the horse is tied. Check that each strap is tight enough after you take the horse for a walk before you get on.
Putting on the bridle.
After saddling the horse, you can put on the bridle. First, put on the snaffle reins over the horses head and then take off the halter. Do it from the left-hand side (near) with the horse to your right. Maintaining the same position, take the bridle to your right hand, lift it on the front of the face, and place the snaffle bit underneath on the horse’s mouth.
If your horse is not opening the mouth, do not worry. Place one finger on the corner of the horse’s mouth where there are no teeth. The reflex will trigger the horse to open its mouth and lift the bridle headpiece of the ears. Make sure you have done correct adjustments, so as not to strain the horse ear or neck.
At this point, you can close the throat latch (3 fingers space between through and lash) then the noseband.
Leave enough room to allow the horse to make movements. Use a flash strap to confirm that the horse won’t have its mouth open only if needed. Pay particular attention at the corner of the horse’s mouth. If you see wrinkles then you might need to make adjustments.
Now you are ready to go and can begin that ride!
Things to remember while learning how to ride a horse.
If you are a beginner in horse riding, you might not have as much fun but you will become an expert by constantly learning and practicing.
Practice ensures that you build and improve the strength and balance that is required for riding. You also get a chance to learn how to communicate with the horse better. A good relationship between you and the horse will certainly lead to a good ride. In other words, communicate with the horse when riding.
Moreover, maintain straight line, movements, and circles with body language, voice commands, hand and leg signals (aids). Learn to change pace and transition between walk, sitting the trot, rising the trot, canter, and gallop. Understand and ride with correct trot and canter diagonals.
How To Ride A Horse – How to stop the horse.
During and at the end of the ride you will need to stop the horse. When cueing for a stop as a beginner, you will need to close and squeeze your fingers backward.
Be in a firm upright position and put your feet slightly forward. When you squeeze the hand backward, the horse stops because of the backward pull on the reins. If the horse doesn’t respond to the cue, you might need to pull back until it stops.
Additionally, depending on the level of training you have, you can use your body, seat or legs to stop the horse. A one rein stop is also learnt to increase safety if movements get to fast and beginners have trouble communicating the stop or there are problems with the horse.
After you get the horse to stop, release carefully. Let the horse rest in the best environment when finished.
Final Remarks: Keep learning!
Again, it might not be easy at first but you will get better with good learning resources and training from a horse expert including practice. Go beyond the training you get from your trainer by also reading books, watching videos and specialized horse events and TV programs. This way you will learn more about horses and horse riding. Your journey is bound to fun!