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:
- Purses and backpacks
- Short shorts
- High heeled shoes
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.