Horseback riding is an exciting hobby to pick up. It’s not an afterschool activity that many people think about when signing their kids up for sports. However, it’s a great way to build confidence among some amazing health benefits as well.
While practicing horseback riding, your child will benefit from a great workout, building core strength, better posture, muscles, balance, and mental health. So, if your child has been begging you to sign them up for horseback riding, you should strongly consider it. But before you dive right in, there are some basic tips on how to ride a horse that both you and your child should know.
Sure, you’ll learn a lot during the lessons, but it’s always best to go in prepared. Doing so will keep you and your child safe throughout the entire process. Are you ready to saddle up?
Continue reading below for our full guide on how to safely and properly ride a horse.
Finding the Right Attire
Before you head out to your child’s first lesson, be sure you’ve purchased the right attire. Having the right attire is a big factor in staying safe and comfortable while on the horse. The following are several items that you need:
The helmet is the most important item that you need to purchase. Because the helmet is so important, you don’t want to take any risk when finding the right one. Be sure to buy it brand new as used ones might contain unseen damage.
There’s going to be a lot of options to choose from so make sure you find one that fits comfortably and is the right kind of helmet for the kind of riding that’s going to be done. You also want to ensure that the helmet is labeled ASTM/SEI certified.
Both of these certifications are essential when helmet shopping. Have your child try the helmet on and be sure that it fits snuggly.
If you’re not competing in a show, then a simple t-shirt or sweatshirt will be just fine. If you’re riding on a trial, then you should consider wearing bright colors so you can easily be seen. When it’s cold outside, opt for a vest rather than a sweater or jacket.
A vest eliminates the restriction of the hands and arms that a sweater or jacket would create. For your pants, you’ll want to purchase riding tights. These tights come with leather patches on the knees and have a seat patch as well.
Leather products are a good choice for horseback riding. The leather keeps your skin safe if a fall or accident were to occur.
You might be surprised to know that there are undergarments made specifically for horseback riding. Choosing to wear these kinds of undergarments is ideal because they make riding comfortable. The last thing you want is to become uncomfortable while riding due to your undergarments.
Your boots are another important clothing item to select in a careful manner. Be on the lookout for a pair of boots with low tread and ones that have around a 1-1/12 inch heel. Don’t settle for a pair of winter or hiking boots as both of these boots have a tread that’s too heavy and not suitable for riding.
Riding boots are a great option, but they’re not your only one. You can use other styles of boots as long as the tread and heel are suitable for riding.
Approaching the Horse
You want to approach the horse calmly and cautiously to prevent scaring him or her. Remember that you and your child are strangers to the horse, and you want to introduce yourself. When approaching the horse, extend one hand out to him or her.
Allow the horse to smell the back of your hand. This is a horse’s way of shaking hands. Once you’ve completed your greeting, you can begin to mount the horse.
When you’re ready to allow your child to mount the horse, you want to ensure you and your child remain safe at all times. To do so, don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises as this might spook the horse. Camera flashes might also spook your new friend, so it might be best to turn the flash off before taking any pictures.
Mounting the Horse
Mount the horse with full confidence. Approaching the horse while nervous will send signals to the horse to be nervous as well. There will be someone there to hold the horse for your child while he or she mounts to horse, but you should be aware of the right way to do so.
Place your left foot in the stirrup and hold onto the reins with your left hand. Lift yourself up and wrap your right leg around the horse. Be sure not to apply pressure to the horse with your hands, but you can use the horse’s back for balance if needed.
Sitting on the Horse
Don’t ride the horse while slouching. Be sure to sit up straight and firm. Your back should be relaxed and your hands should be holding the reins gently. Ensure both feet are in the stirrups.
This will help balance the weight and refrain from putting all of it on the horse.
Controlling the Reins
You can ride while holding both reins together or by holding one rein in each hand. Either way, be sure you do this gently and never pull too hard on them. Hold the reins so that the arms create a right angle at the elbows.
To communicate to the horse on which direction to move in, calmly pull the reins to either the right or left. Gently pull backward while pushing your heels down to stop the horse.
Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize
When riding, always keep your eyes on the prize, and that’s the beautiful scenery in front of you. Always keep the direction of your eyes on where you’re going. Don’t allow yourself or your child to get caught up in looking at the horse while riding.
Keep your posture and look straight ahead.
Learn How to Ride a Horse Today!
Know that you’ve read our guide, we hope you’ve learned how to ride a horse today. With these great tips in mind, you and your child will be riding like a pro!
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