Contessa Riding

3 Common Horseback Riding Mistakes to Avoid

Once you get familiar with your horse and the equipment used in riding, you might come to find that it is surprisingly easy! Even though there’s little to leisurely strolling on horseback, there are some mistakes that are made all too often. Some mistakes can compromise the safety of the horse and/or the rider and should be consciously avoided during every single ride.

To help you enjoy a safe and happy ride, we present you with 3 mistakes that you should avoid making when you’re in the saddle.

Using Improper Posture

Of course, nobody wants to fall off their horse! But some instinctive behaviors that feel like they might help you to stay aloft might actually contribute further to the risk of falling. Here are some common posture mistakes that you definitely should not make when riding horseback.

  • Hunching forward. Horses treat this behavior from their riders as an indication to go faster. If you are a beginner, you do not want this! Keep your posture straight and relaxed, instead.
  • Gripping the saddle horn. It might be instinctual to do so in an effort to keep yourself from falling off, but your feet and legs are enough to keep you safe and secure in the saddle.
  • Raising your heels. Pressing your heels skyward compromises balance and stability. Try to keep your heels flat. Wearing low-heeled boots can help with this.

Holding Reigns Too High

Horseback riders should not give too much slack in their reins, as this can make it difficult to control the direction of the horse. It might make you feel more secure to hold the reigns up to your chest, but the proper placement of your hands is actually at the hip level.

The key is to give the reins enough slack to allow the horse to move comfortably (without having their mouth being pulled on), but not so much slack that the horse is difficult to control.

Learn to Trot Before You Gallop

Everyone wants to get their horse running at a spirited gallop, but new riders must learn at an appropriate pace before they can take off charging down the trail. Start with a slow and easygoing walk, first. This gives you ample opportunity to learn how to signal your horse to turn, slow down, stop and perform other actions.

From there, it’s time to trot! A trot, while slower than a gallop, is a far bumpier ride. When you have mastered the trot, you’re probably ready for a galloping speed.

 

4 Tips to Help First-Time Horseback Riders Get Started

When you’ve arrived at the decision to saddle up and get on a horse for the first time, there are some things that you should know before day one of your riding lessons. You will receive a lot of quality guidance from your instructor, of course, but it is certainly helpful to go into this next chapter of your life with a bit of information already laid down as a foundation to your experiences.

In this article, we will share 4 valuable tips that we think every new horseback rider should know.

Wear the Proper Attire

You should always wear practical, well-fitting clothes when you are riding on horseback. Long pants, low-heeled boots, and weather-suitable tops are ideal for riding. Avoid wearing these items whenever you’re in the saddle:

  • Skirts
  • Purses and backpacks
  • Short shorts
  • High heeled shoes
  • Flats
  • Hats
  • Scarves

Basically, avoid wearing anything that doesn’t protect your body or could become snagged on a low-hanging branch along the trail. Your safety is of the utmost importance, so your instructor may not even allow you to ride until you’ve come dressed appropriately.

Use the Horseman’s Handshake

Horses are sentient and sensitive creatures who experience the full spectrum of moods and emotions. You need to approach your horse calmly and considerately. A great way to initiate a good rapport with your horse is to offer them the “horseman’s handshake.”

To greet your horse this way, simply extend your arm to present the back of your hand to the horse. They will sniff your hand, eventually touching their nose to it. This is a very respectful way to approach a horse for the first time and is widely recommended.

Don’t Psych Yourself Out

Horses are very large and very strong animals, but you do not need to fear them when you’re working alongside an experienced instructor with adequately trained horses. Horses can detect the moods of their riders, especially anxiety, and it will impact their own behavior. Respect the size and strength of these majestic creatures, but do not allow yourself to become overly tense. Neither you nor the horse will have a good time.

If you need to work on your anxiety before riding, spend some one-on-one time with the horse until you feel more comfortable getting into the saddle.

Remember: You Aren’t a Jockey

If you’re familiar with professional horseraces, you’ve probably seen the way that jockeys hunch when they’ve got the reins in their hands. This isn’t necessary! In fact, hunching like this can hurt the back, shoulder or hips of a new rider. Sit up straight and relaxed to get the most out of your horseback riding experience.