Horse Riding Essentials – Getting Started
Learning how to ride a horse should be an enjoyable experience, it can however be a little daunting. There are a few things to remember which will help you pick it up in no time.
Let’s begin with positioning.
Your hands should be kept close to your horse, your instincts may kick in and you may use your hand and arms to keep your balance. This is counterproductive as by doing this you will loosen your reins and have less control over your horse. Keep your hands down and if you need to balance use your legs.
Also, do not hold the reins too tight as this will confuse your horse and make him think you want him to stop or slow down. It can put on unnecessary pressure and hurt your horse’s mouth if you grip too much on the reins so try and give him a little leeway by moving your hands with the movement of the horse. This takes practice but once you get into a rhythm it will come naturally.
Heels down shoulders back!
Keep your heels down! When new riders are learning to master the trot, many lift themselves up by rocking forward out of their seat. Standing on your tip toes will likely mean you are out of rhythm and bouncing all over the place. Keep your heels down and lift yourself with your knees, this will help you maintain a good position and it takes the pressure off the horses back. Once you have mastered this it will feel more comfortable and controlled.
Your feet should not be too far into the stirrup. Try and make the ball of your foot rest on the stirrup, this will improve your general position and stop you from relying on your stirrups to pull you up.
Do not grip too tightly with your legs. Riding successfully is more about balance than grip. By clenching your legs your horse may see this as a cue to speed up or move forward. By tensing your body this can affect your horses attitude as well. So, sit with your shoulders back and relax your legs a little.
You are not sitting in a chair.
New riders sometimes look like are sitting in a chair. Your knees should not be drawn up like a jockey. Practise letting your legs hang downwards from your hips. The proper alignment is that your heels, hips and shoulders should all line up.
Look where you are going.
Look where you are going and not at the horse. It is easy to get distracted by looking at your horse, especially if you are nervous but looking down will stiffen your spine and make it more difficult for your horse to carry you. Some people say to look through your horse’s ears, this is only partially true, looking through your horse’s ears may give you an indication on where you are going but you also need to look around you for potential obstacles.