Are you planning of learning how to horse ride?
Horse riding is a fun and exciting activity. Many of us are quite hesitant to try it though because of fear and apprehensions. Whilst learning to ride horseback could indeed be challenging, the euphoria of being able to conquer your fear and successfully ride a horse like a warrior beat all the learning bumps. It’s also important that you equip yourself with as much knowledge about horse riding as you can.
Below is some of the most common horse riding mistakes that new riders are guilty of committing. Taking note of these mistakes and making sure that you won’t do them will give you heaps of a head start in your journey of learning.
1. Gripping Tightly With Your Legs
First thing that you should remember is that riding is not about grip; instead it is more about balance. Keep your muscles active but not too stiff and tense. When you grip your horse’s back tightly with your legs, not only will it make you feel tired but it could send a wrong signal to the horse. Gripping and clenching will make your body tense and this could affect how the horse will respond to your signal.
How to fix it: Your leg should be hanging from the hip when you sit in the saddle, with your weight falling down on your heel. Instead of allowing your leg to swing to the front or back, it’s better if you keep your foot under you. Create an imaginary straight line from your ear, shoulder, hip to your heel.
2. Hands in the Air
Many beginner riders are guilty of putting their hands way up in the air when they start to feel insecure. Whilst it’s basic instinct for us to use our hands and arms in balancing, doing so when horse riding may not be a good idea. When your hands are up in the air, you lose control of the horse since you’re leaving the reins much too long.
How to fix it: Practice on following the horse’s movement with your core and seat. Keep your hands at hip level while your reins should have a light and even tension. If the horse pulls the reins loose, readjust them. If you are direct reining, there should have a straight line that goes from your elbows, forearm, wrist, hands, reins and to the bit in the horse’s mouth. If you are neck reining, there should be a slight tension on the reins when you are pulling back. Your elbows should be at your side while your hands should be kept at hip level.
Click here to know how to use direct reining to turn your horse.
3. Ramming Your Feet Into the Stirrups
Avoid ramming your feet into the stirrups. Not only it will cause you discomfort but it could also be dangerous especially if you are not wearing proper boots or using safety stirrups.
How to fix it: The stirrups should be at the proper length. It should just hit your ankle bone when your legs are hanging free. Put your foot in the stirrup so the ball part of your foot rests on the stirrup. Practice on achieving proper leg position.
4. Standing Tippy Toe
This mistake is often committed when riders are first learning to post the trot. When you rock up to lift yourself out of the saddle and standing tip toe, it’s more likely that you will fall behind the trots rhythm. Double bouncing heavily on the saddle could make you involuntarily put your hands in the air to counterbalance yourself. This could make you uncomfortable and could affect the mood of your horse.
How to fix it: Practice on your leg position. Keep your lower leg still and your feet under you. Learning how to effectively use your core muscles is a big help on posting the trot.
5. Drawing Up Your Knees
When getting in the saddle for the first time, many new riders position themselves like they are sitting in a chair. Some of them may look forced down with their feet pushed forward while others draw their knees and heels up. Some new riders even mimic the jockeys.
How to fix it: This is the same with leg clenching. Hang your leg downwards from the hip and keep it properly aligned. Avoid pinching with your knees.
Slouching is a common horse riding mistakes whether you’re trying to imitate hunched over cowboys you saw in the movies, feeling terrified about riding or embarrassed of your height. Some new riders tend to curl into fetal position when they feel anxious and nervous. Controlling a horse while in a hunched position would be hard, plus slouching also affects your balance. When your balance is compromised, the ability of your horse to perform its job is also compromised.
How to fix it: Relax your muscles and sit straight up, but not too ramrod straight. Your chin should be up and your gaze should always be on where you are going. Don’t squeeze your shoulder blades as it can make you feel tense. Open up your chest and let your breastbone float upwards instead. Keep yourself calm and tension free.
7. Holding Your Breath
Some riders tend to hold their breath when they are concentrating too hard or feel very tensed. Even experienced riders are guilty of holding their breath when faced with something new.
How to fix it: Try to relax yourself and take your mind off the pressure. Do whatever you can to stay calm – breath in rhythm, hum a tune or smile.
8. Looking at the Horse
Horses are beautiful creatures and many of us can’t help gazing at them. When you look down at your horse though, you stiffen your spine and your gaze is not on where you are going.
How to fix it: There’s a partial truth to the saying that you should look between your horse’s ears. Your eyes should only be on where you are going. Having your chin up and eyes forward will put you in better balance.
Click here for more tips on horse riding.