If you’re looking for something to spice up your workout routine, why not try horseback riding?
Many of us don’t really think horseback riding as a “fitness” activity, but riding on a horse is an excellent form of exercise. This hobby can help you achieve stable core, strong legs and impeccable balance. Plus, spending time outdoor can certainly do your body some good.
Whether you want to try horse riding for an active lifestyle or you’re passionate about horses, you can’t just simply hit the trails. Below are some things that you need to know first before your first horse riding.
1. Safety Should be your Priority
Being a first-timer in horse riding, it’s understandable that you feel giddy and just want to try on the first stable that you come across with. Safety should be your number one priority and it’s important that you take precautions at all time.
The first step that you need to take is do your research and check for the most reputable local stable. Look for establishment that is safe, legitimate, clean and in good repair. Also find a certified riding instructor who has tons of experience dealing with beginners.
Click here to find a certified instructor near you.
2 Wear Proper Clothing
If you think wearing a cowboy boots is enough, you may need to think again.
Wearing the proper clothing will not only make you comfortable but it will also help improve your performance. Protect your legs from chafing against the saddle by wearing long and comfortable pants. Closed-toed shoes with a small heel are also recommended to keep your feet on the stirrups. Avoid wearing loose clothing and accessories that could get tangled in equipment.
3. Stay Hydrated
It is important that you drink lots of water when horse riding. You can work up a lot of sweat, especially on warm days, so keep yourself hydrated throughout the ride by bringing a water bottle along.
4. Arrive Early or On Time
Being late on your first horse riding lesson is a big no-no.
Arrive atleast 15 minutes before the lesson so that you have time to get to know your instructor, co-trainees and even the horse. When meeting your horse for the first time, stay towards the left side or the front. Horses have smaller brains and they are trained to expect human activity from the left side.
5. Follow the Leader
When you’re leading your horse, stand to the left of its head and hold the reins with your right hand below its chin. Your left hand should be little bit down the length of the reins so they don’t drag on the ground.
6. Be Sensitive to Your Horse
Before you settle on your choice of saddle, it’s a must that you know the basic traits and characteristics of the horses.
All horses, even the ones that are best-trained, are naturally prey animals and they are genetically wired to flee when they sense danger. Horses are one of the most sensitive animals, their sharp eyes can see almost 360 degrees around their bodies and their ears could sense even the faintest sounds. They also have a strong sense of gauging danger or fear.
When you’re approaching a horse, stay calm and be confident. As it can sense your fear, use a low, calm voice and never sneak up to your horse. Avoid making sudden noises or movements as well.
7. Check Your Equipment
Horse riding could be a dangerous activity. There is a risk of falling over and being injured.
With this being said, it’s important that you take your safety very seriously. Before you jump into the saddle, check your equipment first if they are properly placed and secured. Make sure that the stirrups are the correct length, the straps on the bridle are tight but don’t restrict the horse’s breathing and the saddle doesn’t slide around. Though an instructor will help you check if everything is secured, it would never hurt if you take extra precaution yourself.
8. Learn How to Get on a Horse
Getting on a horse without help can certainly be challenging. Your instructor will not be there all the time so it’s important that you learn how to get on your horse by yourself.
To do this, look for a mounting block and position it on the left side of your horse and put the reins over your horse’s head. Stick the left toe in the stirrup and hold the reins in your left hand with its front rested on the saddle. Place your right hand on the saddle’s back and pull yourself straight up gently, swinging the right leg carefully over the horse’s back. Once your legs are on the side of your horse, gently sit down on the saddle and put your right foot in the right stirrup.
9. Master the Horse’s Walk
Most horses have four progressively speedy gaits: walk, trot, canter, and gallop. The walk is the steadiest gait because the horse always has at least one foot on the ground.
Mastering your horse’s walk is quite simple. With both of your shoulders squared and heels down in the stirrups, sit up tall and keep your eyes focused ahead between the horse’s ears. This is the most stable and comfortable position for both the rider and the horse. When walking your horse’s walk, remember to stay relaxed in the saddle and move with your horse.
10. Rein It In
Use the reins to steer and stop your horse. The reins are connected to the metal bit in the mouth of the horse so always remember to be gentle with it. Horses could get uncomfortable when you jerk them around by the mouth.
To steer left, move the left rein towards the left as if you’re opening the door. If you want your horse’s head to move to the right, do the same motion with the right rein. Gently pull back on the reins while sitting up tall and pushing the heels further down if you want your horse to slow down or stop.
Horse riding is not only fun and exciting; it also gives your body the exercise it needs. Click here for more useful tips and articles about horse riding.