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Horse Riding: How to Start

As with all things, we have to start somewhere, right? The same goes with horseback riding. We know that you want to immediately become a great horseback rider but as all successes go, there are no shortcuts for a successful horseback riding.

Whether you intend to learn horse riding for the purposes of joining an equestrian competition or for pure pleasure and hobby, the fundamentals of learning it are pretty much the same and universal.

Before you start to ride

First of all though… before you proceed to the actual riding part, you need to have the proper and the necessary gear – for your horse and for yourself too. Invest on a good quality saddle, saddle blanket, bridle, as well as grooming kit. So, why is it important to groom your horse, anyway?

First, brushing your horse promotes good blood circulation. Second, grooming your horse allows you to bond with the animal. Third, it makes the horse looking clean and shiny, so it’s important that you should groom your horse before the ride, as well as after it.

Purchase a good riding attire. For a full list and detailed descriptions of horse riding gear and attire, you need to check out this link: “Equipment Needed to Start Riding Horses.” Then tie your horse safely and securely so that you can saddle it up for the ride.

Mounting

With your horse groomed and saddled up, then it’s time for you to do the mounting part. Understanding how to properly mount on a horse is very important, and it’s a first big step towards everything else that follows in horse riding.

Before you get on though, check the gear on your horse first to see if it’s properly fitted and snug. When everything’s in place, it’s time to do the mounting part. Hold both reins with your left hand then grasp the horse’s tuft of mane. Hold the back of the saddle with your right hand.

Next, lift your left foot and place it into the stirrup, then pull yourself up, throwing your right leg over your horse’s hindquarter. Be careful not to kick your horse’s rump or hit your leg at the back of the saddle.

Steering the horse

The reins are basically the “steering wheel” of your horse. So if you want your horse to turn left, pull the reins on your left; if you want to turn it right, pull the reins on your right.

Another style of steering consists of holding the reins by both hands, where one hand holds the reins steadily while the other hand applies gentle pressure straight backwards. This will cause the horse to react to the pressure, inciting a response in return.

You may also steer the horse by coaxing in a couple of ways. One is to gently press your leg into your horse’s sides; this will cause the horse to react and respond in turn. Another is to say verbal commands. Don’t forget that horses are extremely intelligent creatures, and most of them will respond to common verbal commands such as “Get up!” to move forward, and “Whoa!” to stop.

Riding and walking

As a first-time rider, it is not generally advisable to ride in places where there are things that get in the way or things that get close to your path, such as fences or tree branches.

Therefore, start your first ride by going to vast and open areas. This will help you concentrate on more important things such as balancing your posture while you’re on the saddle. Horse riding requires a considerable amount of concentration and balance, so the key here is practice.

In your first rides, you are likely to have an instructor who rides close to your side as you are still learning the basics, such as reining and cuing the horse to walk. If you have not taken horse riding before, it would take some time to get accustomed to your horse’s motion.

Eventually, with lots of practice, riding a horse will become much more easy and natural. Make sure to keep your horse under control – be careful not to excite the animal too much, or watch out for things that may alarm or frighten your horse and cause itself to rear.

Why Horseback Riding Is Good for You

Before motorized auto vehicles like cars and motorcycles, people widely used horses to get them to different places — whether by riding on a horse alone or riding inside horse-drawn vehicles like carts, coaches and buggies. Most people at the time used to ride on horse backs for many purposes, from commuting to hunting.

Nowadays though, horseback riding is mostly considered a sport and recreation. However, it doesn’t mean that it has lost its utilitarian value.

Moreover, horseback riding seems to have found a new purpose: providing health benefits to the body and mind. You won’t believe it? In that case, we are rolling out good reasons why you should take up this sport.

1) Physical exercise
Exercise? But it’s the horse that does most of the work, right? That’s right, but you may be surprised to find out that horseback riding also helps in burning calories. According to a recent research, a 30-minute light trotting burns about 360 calories, which is enough to qualify as a moderate-intensity exercise. It also helps in flattening and toning your stomach along the way.

Mounting on a horse, as well as alighting from it, provides some workout as well. Positioning yourself on a horse, and adjusting to the horse’s gait will help in toning your back, inner thigh and pelvic muscles. Riding on a horse for prolonged periods of time will also develop stronger legs and thighs.

2) Balance and coordination
For most people, horseback riding is just mounting on a horse and going off – that’s it. In fact, horseback riding is not as simple as you think. It requires good balance and coordination. For one, controlling your horse’s gait and speed will require you to coordinate your position on the horse, as well as rein pressure and leg pressure – all at the same time. As the horse makes its moves and turns (often quickly), you must be able to be “in harmony” with your horse’s moves as well as be able to support yourself.

3) Improved flexibility
When you have gotten used to horseback riding for some time, you will be able to see your flexibility considerably improving. Certain parts of your body, such as your pelvic and hip area, are most likely to improve in terms of flexibility. Flexibility is important – even crucial – in horseback riding, because it allows the rider to coordinate with the horse’s movements in a naturally agile and flowing motion.

4) Improved posture
Riding for a prolonged period of time allows you to sit in specific positions to keep yourself balanced while on the saddle. As a result, your posture will remarkably improve.

5) Mental exercise
It is definitely a challenge to become (and to stay) focused on yourself and your horse and that requires mental work and concentration – which, in turn, is a good exercise for your brain. Horseback riding is also known for its meditative and stress-relieving benefits. Plus, spending time with animals are supposed to increase levels of serotonin, a hormone which enhances your mood. So overall, horseback riding is not just good for your body, but it’s also good for your brain and your emotions.

Dealing with a large, powerful and intelligent animal such as a horse – which also tends to act independently – is both a full-body and a full-mental workout. It forces you to use your muscles you never knew existed and develop your quick thinking skills as you are constantly adjusting to your horse’s motion. Knowing and understanding more about horses and their attitude is also a key to a better riding experience. Read more about horses on this article: Interesting Facts about Horses.