Tips for Beginning Horseback Riding
- Reach out to others. Horseback riding is a lot more fun with other people, and they have a lot they can teach you. The best way to improve is to listen to someone more knowledgeable than you, practice, and if possible, have them critique you. Never think that you can’t learn more. The easiest way to do this is by finding an instructor.
- Invest in a helmet. Make sure to get one that is ASTM/SEI-approved. This is one of the most important investments you can make. Horses are large and can be unpredictable, and that helmet can save your life.
- Wear the appropriate clothing. Long pants and boots are crucial. Bare legs can often lead to chaffing. Never wear open toed shoes. Boots are preferred because they give you traction and a slight heel can keep your foot from sliding around in the stirrup. Make sure the boots don’t have a steel toe. Check out Ellen’s riding outfit pictured above: Carhartt Women’s Briarwood Shirt, Marlinton Vest, & Original-Fit Canvas Crawford Dungaree.
- Introduce yourself to your horse. Make sure they can see you and that you don’t startle them. Extend your hand slowly towards his nose so he can smell you first. It’s like saying hello in horse language.
- Never assume that your horse is completely, 100% safe. No matter how trained he is or how well you get along, horses are prey animals first. They are going to act like that from time to time. It is better to always be ready than to assume everything will be fine. This is where that helmet can come in handy.
- Stay in open areas at first. Avoid low hanging branches, holes in the ground, and other obstacles until you’re more comfortable. The ball of your foot should rest in the stirrup. Hold the reins evenly with a slight bit of slack. Don’t hold the reins too tight, or you will hurt the horse’s mouth. Loosen up and let your body move with the horse. Keep your back straight and don’t hold your breath.
That sounds like a lot to remember, but just take things one step at a time. You’ll start to get the hang of it. You won’t be perfect overnight. Be patient with your horse and don’t forget to enjoy yourself.