6 Tips You Must Know to Gain the Respect of Your Horse

Generally, there are two types of horse people that you will come across. The first group is the ones who constantly nag at their horses like an exhausted mother. They shower their horses with treats and bribes and as a result, their horses became plain disrespectful, take advantage of every situation and run over their owners.

Then there’s the barbaric group; they are the ones who are never shy of using whips to make their horses do what they want. Being too authoritarian causes their horse to become too fearful, anxious and defensive.

If you want to be a good horse rider, you should be in the middle. You should have the right amount of authority that your horse will respect and obey you and at the same time have a soft spot for some treats and rewards. Gaining the trust and respect of your horse is something that you should acquire. These are the fundamentals of a strong relationship and earning their respect is a beginning of a strong foundation.

Pecking Order

So how do you earn the respect of your horse?

The easiest way to do so is by putting yourself in your horse’s shoe. Understand his point of view. When you throw horses out in a pasture, it’s natural for them to have a pecking order established. On the first few days, tension is present in the group and there would even be a couple of fights. Within the next few days though, they establish a pecking order and there will be that horse that will stand as a leader of the group.

Gaining control of the whole group has something to do with the feet movement. A leader has proven to every horse in the pasture that he could move their feet forward, backward, left, and right. It’s natural for the horses to question the capacity of their leader though. You must know that they can also do the same way on your authority.

Work on the Ground

All problems that riders experienced are directly related to problems on the ground. Things could get really bad if you’re riding a horse and he suddenly went crazy and dangerous. One way of avoiding this problem and at the same time gaining the respect of your horse is by working him on the ground first.

You should never underestimate the power of doing more ground work and preparing your horse for a safer ride first. The more time that you spend with your horse on the ground and preparing him, the more respect you will get from your horse and the safer your ride will be.

Three Primary Exercises

Before you go out riding on your horse, make sure that you perform these three basic exercises first: yielding the forequarters, yielding the hindquarters and backing up. Combine one or more of these three movements every time you exercise your horse on the ground and under saddle. As you go advanced with your exercises, you should have more combination of four movements (forward, backward, left, and right) with these exercises.

As you advance your ground-work exercises, the respect of your horse as well as your leadership skill increases. Ground work does not just limit to leading your horse and walking him around the pasture for half an hour; it’s a step-by-step system that rewards you with your horse’s trust and respect.

Be Leader-Worthy

Horses don’t respect wimps and they don’t obey barbarians either. If you want to have a better relationship, you need to prove to him that you are worthy of being a leader.

If you want to gain the trust and respect of your horse, you need to make him comfortable for doing the right thing and uncomfortable for doing the wrong thing. There’s some truth to the popular horse saying “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult.” Reward your horse and make him feel comfortable if he followed your order. When he becomes disrespectful and ignores your order, add pressure to make him feel uncomfortable.

A lot of people work with reward system only. When their horse did a good thing, they give them treats or awards. But when he does something wrong, they just ignore it like nothing happened. Though positive reinforcement is an effective way of instilling a behavior, you should never dismiss the power of penalty. When your horse does something wrong, make him feel uncomfortable so that he knows that what he did was wrong and that he would never do it again.

A Step-by-Step Approach

By nature, horses always have the instinct to choose the right thing. You have to believe in the fact that all horses are good by nature. Earning their trust and reinforcing behavior needs to be a step by step approach.

For example, there’s a group of horses that are surrounding the bale of hay lying in the middle of the pasture. The broodmare, which acts as a leader of the group, does not just go up to these horses and start kicking them. The reinforcement for this negative behavior should be gradual. First, she pins her ears and gives the horses the choice to leave. If they don’t listen, she pins her ears and acts like she’s going to bite them. If these efforts are still wasted, she pins the other horse’s ears and bites them. If they still don’t move she’ll kick them until the other horses move away from the bale of hay.

Expect Respect

No two horses are the same; each one of them has their own unique traits and personalities.

Some riders blame their horses for the lack of respect. “My horse does not want to go on the trail ride because he doesn’t like your horse.” “My horse hates pink so I can’t use a pink lead rope.” Stop making excuses for your horse. Respect is not something that you hope and wish for; it’s something that you expect of.

Click here for more useful tips on how to become a better horse rider.

Trail Rides Etiquette That You Must Know

If you want to have a pleasant cross-country ride, it’s important that you are aware of the rules of etiquette for riding cross-country. You have to respect and follow these rules if you want to be allowed on the property and be invited again.

Do you know some of these unspoken etiquettes?

Many of these rules are more of a courtesy or common sense, such as respect for your co-members and other land users.

Below are the common etiquettes for trail rides that you must be knowledgeable about.

Know the Lay of the Land and the Owner

The first thing that you need to know when riding cross country is the lay of the land that you will be crossing. You need to gauge if you will be riding on a private or public land. You also need to know if you need to acquire permission to cross it or ride there.

Many riders make an assumption that they are riding on public land. Don’t make the same mistake. You have to know that some of private lands are not marked. You have to determine beforehand if you route will be passing a private land and acquire permission from the landowner if so.

Some property owners are fine with riders passing through their rangelands or ranch pastures. There are some landowners though that doesn’t tolerate trespassers at all.

Leave All Gates Exactly How You Found Them

It’s definitely tempting to leave the gate open especially if you are going to pass through that gate again later in the day. One thing that you must remember in riding is that you should leave all gates exactly how you find them. If you found them closed, make sure that you close them as soon as you passed through. Cattles and other pasture animals have allotted range pastures where they graze. Leaving the gate open might cause the cattle to wander into the wrong pasture and this could cause problems for their owners.

If you find a gate left open, you should leave them open. Gates are opened for a reason – for example, so cattle can have access to water. It’s important that you know about the land ownership and specific use and which gates should be left open or closed.

Leave Minimal Impact

Picture this scenario out: The hooves of your horse tear up wet grass. Or you left a furrow in the ground when you slide down a hill. Or, worst of all, you took a shortcut and passed on area where you’re not supposed to be and damaged the land. Tearing out vegetation on fragile soils or making a furrow or trail where there was none can lead to erosion. Not only that, these scenarios could have your invitation to ride on the land cancelled.

In whatever circumstances, you should do everything in your power to minimize adverse impact, especially in fragile areas. Care for the land should always be a primary factor when you make decision on the trail. You need to be more mindful, especially on open land.

Stay on the trails especially if you’re riding on existing trails. Ride single-file in the middle of the path and never detour around snow banks, puddles, or other obstacles if you can go through them. Don’t cut across the switchbacks or take shortcuts either; this could create additional trails and tears out and tramples more plants that could cause erosion.

Choose Rest Stops Mindfully

It’s tempting to stop at a wooded area to tie your horse and do a leg-stretch or perhaps have your lunch at a lush meadow where your horses can graze. You can’t just make your rest stops anywhere you want to. Instead of choosing the most breathtaking view, select a spot where you can leave the least impact instead.

How to be mindful on your rest stops?

Choosing an area with durable footing and soil where your horses can’t trample the vegetation is a good start. If you’re just taking a short break, instead of tying your horse to a tree you can rather hold him. If you’re resting on an area that is well-traveled, pull off the main trail so other users won’t be forced to go around you.

Don’t Leave Any Litter

It’s the most basic courtesy to never leave your trash behind.

You may think that dropping a plastic from a granola bar, pop can or a gum wrapper as you ride along is not a big deal, but you have to remember that this garbage will stay in the environment a long time. Littering could have other repercussions aside from the aesthetic impact. A curious calf may eat a wrapper or a plastic bag that you left behind, resulting in a fatal GI-tract blockage.

Put all your trash in your saddlebag or jacket pocket and dispose them properly when you get home.

Tie Your Horse Carefully

Long rides could be exhausting which is why many riders make a stop to explore the area, fish in a pond or have some lunch. If you need to tie your horse to a tree, make sure that you tie him to a live tree with at least 8 inches in diameter. Choose a tree that is well-rooted and sturdy that your horse can’t break, bend or pull over. Avoid trees with sharp branches at eye level for the safety of your horse.

Click here to learn more about carefully tying a horse to a tree.

Be Courteous

Being polite can certainly go a long way. Practice courteousness at all times so that other users – dog walkers, hikers, bicyclists – would respect you. Always offer the right of way to hikers, bikers or other riders. If it’s too hard to move your horse off a narrow trail when you come across with hikers, ask them politely to step off on the downhill side.

Practicing good manure manners is important too. As your horse defecates, keep him moving so that he won’t leave a huge pile. Keep heavy-duty garbage bags in your trailer’s tack compartment, along with a shovel, rake or a broom and clean up any manure left by your horse.

Learn more about horse riding here.

Tips on How to Dress Appropriately and Safely for Horse Riding

Thinking about what to wear before you work with or ride a horse is important. Wearing the proper clothing is not only for comfort, it’s also for your safety. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your outfit. There are tons of appropriate piece of garment that you can find at a more pocket-friendly price.

Below are some of the things that you need to know about proper equestrian attire.

Headgear

There are a lot of headgears available in the market that you can choose from. When choosing a headgear, the most important thing that you need to consider is safety instead of fashion. Approved headgears provide the most protection for your head while the non-approved headgears only serve as apparel items.

Do’s

  • Wear properly fitted equestrian helmets and ASTM/SEI certified when riding and working around horses.

Don’ts

  • Baseball hats
  • Cowboy hats
  • Top hats
  • Derbies
  • Bicycle helmets
  • Hunt caps

Wearing approved helmets have been proven to be effective in preventing injuries and reducing the severity of head injuries. You may need to spend around $30-$300 in a good helmet, but this amount is relatively small compared to the permanence and potential cost of head injury.

Shirts

You really don’t have to buy new clothes that you can use for horse riding. Chances are, you can find something in your closet like a sweatshirt or T-shirt that is appropriate.  Make sure that the shirt has a perfect fit. Wearing loose or clothes that are too large may get caught in a tree branch or a piece of equipment. But if you are going to a horse show, then it’s a different story probably.

If you are going on a trail, wear clothing of bright colors so that you are more visible. Vests are also a staple for many riders, especially when the weather is cooler. Vests give you the needed warmth and they don’t restrict your arms and shoulders.

If you’re in an area with frigid temperatures, there are winter coats specifically designed for horse riding that you can choose from. These coats have more room through the shoulders and have gussets so they spread over the saddle rather than tucking under your seat. You can even get fancy and choose the ones that have attractive patches and reflective tape for greater visibility out on trail.

Pants

An inexpensive pair of two-way stretch tights maybe the smartest and most comfortable choice for everyday riding. You can buy your riding tights with seat patches and leather knee. These tights are made of a more durable fabric and provide a bit more grip than tights not designed for horseback riding. For colder weather, you can wear winter riding pants made of fleece material to give you an extra layer of warmth.

You may notice that a lot of riders wear sweat pants or jeans. Whilst these clothing are okay, you would want to avoid pants that wrinkle, twist or bunch along the inside of your legs and especially knees. Just like with shirts, your pants should be of perfect fit. Wearing pants that are too loose or too large can catch on something which can lead to an injury to yourself or your horse.

Leather riding chaps give some riders the extra grip and wind breaking ability during winter season. You can wear half chaps that cover from knee to foot if you want grip and protection for your lower leg. Chaps or half chaps may not prevent major injuries but they can protect your legs from scratches and scrapes when trail riding and from being chaffed against the saddle.  You would appreciate the extra layer of protection leather or synthetic chaps provide when you are riding with badly rubbed calves, especially after your horse starts sweating.

Gloves

Gloves don’t just give your hands the protection they need; they also give you a bit extra grip and strength. Gloves are particularly useful when your horse pulls. Going out without your gloves on could give your hands horse blisters when you pull while riding out on a trail. You can use any reasonably fitted pair of gloves as long as they can hold the reins comfortably. Leather-palmed crochet-backed gloves are perfect for summer while lined leather gloves are ideal for winter.

Footwear

Next to the helmet, footwear is probably the next most important type of attire for you and your horse’s safety.

There may not be an official standards or testing for horse riding boots, but you would want to get a pair with about a 1 to 1 ½ inch heel and low tread. The heel will protect your foot from slipping through the stirrup when riding.

Winter and hiking boots are not ideal for horse riding as their tread is too heavy and could jam in the stirrup in case of a fall. Gym shoes are not appropriate for horse riding either. You would also want to stay away from any boots with waffle tread. Sandals and flip-flops are also a big no-no, whether you’re working with or riding a horse. These footwear don’t give your feet any protection at all.

For riding purposes, your boots should be supportive of your ankles, just like an ice skater. Look for a pair that covers your ankles. You really don’t have to purchase a “riding boots”; your boots just need to have the heel, sole and tread appropriate for horse riding. There are two purposes that a pair of boots serves.  A riding boot with a small heel provides some protection if your toes get trampled and help prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup. Tall boots also give your legs protection from chaffing while you ride and from getting scraped by scrub and branches as you trail ride.

There are many kinds of boots that you can choose from so choose whatever is affordable, comfortable and suitable for your type of riding. A good pair of boots starts at about $100.

Click here to find out more helpful tips and articles about horse riding.

How to Prevent Horse Riding Injury

Horse riding is a type of sports that has the highest risk of serious injury and fatality compared with other extreme sports. Approximately 80% of equestrian related injuries happen while riding while the remaining 20%  occur during horse handling activities (such as feeding, grooming, leading) and unrelated activities such as being in the vicinity of a horse.

The major cause of equestrian injury is falling from a horse which makes up approximately 80% of the reported cases. This is followed by horse kicks or crushing injuries inflicted by a horse. Most of the serious injuries and even cause of death in horse riders is from head injury resulting from a fall from the horse. Lesser injuries are joint sprains, fractures (mainly to the arm), abrasions (particularly to the face), cuts and bruises.

They say prevention is better than cure. This is particularly true when it comes to horse riding. With the higher risk that you put yourself into, it’s important that you take precautionary measure while within the vicinity and on your horse.

Below are some of the tips that you must take note to prevent injuries from horse riding.

Select the Right Horse for You

Choosing an appropriate horse for you is your first step of safety. You can’t just simply point your finger to the one that you’re attracted the most.

Select a horse that matches your age, size, experience and skills. For novice riders, choosing older horses is a smart choice as they are often more predictable and quieter. Selecting the right horse for you could be pretty challenging and overwhelming especially if it’s your first time, so it’s important that you seek an advice from an experienced rider.

Being compatible with your horse does not just only give you a better performance. More importantly, riding on the right horse will give you a safer and more relaxed experience.

Handle the Horse with Respect and Care

Horses are sensitive animals. They can sense your mood as well as impending threats.

When dealing with your horse, it’s important that you treat them with care and respect. Treat them like they are your dear friend. Talk to them in a calm voice and never do anything that could trigger a negative reaction from your horse. Avoid making sudden movements or raising your voice.

The horse’s hind legs are designed for kicking so always exercise caution. Don’t sneak up on a horse; always approach them from the front. When handling reins and ropes, make sure that you handle them well in a manner that you avoid loops that could trap your fingers.

Keep children away from horses. They should never be near or in the vicinity of the horses.

Novice Riders Should be Supervised at All Times

Children and novice riders should not go around the stable unsupervised. There should be an experienced rider that accompany you all the time when you are riding. A lot of things could happen in the stable and you don’t want to be caught in an unexpected situation alone.

Aside from being supervised, another effective method of avoiding injury is through education. Enroll yourself in riding lessons to know the basics of horse riding. Having knowledge about horse riding is a powerful tool to avoid possible injuries.

Wear Helmet

Head injury is one of the most serious and fatal injuries that are caused by horse riding.

We may not have control over everything and accidents may happen when we least expect it, but we have full control of our behavior. By wearing safety helmet whenever you’re riding, you lessen your risk of head injury and many horse riding related deaths.

It’s not enough that you wear any helmet though. Make sure that the helmet that you’re wearing is compliant with the current safety standards. They should either be collapsible or has no peak. Your helmet should be fastened securely all the time.

Children should also wear helmet when they are around horses. A kick to small head can lead to severe head injuries and even fatality.

Click here to learn how to choose a safe riding helmet.

Wear Riding Equipment of Good Quality

Have you ever seen a warrior going to war without a shield and armor?

Going horse riding without safe riding equipment is like going to a war empty-handed.

Invest in good quality riding equipment to increase your safety.

  • Your feet are easily crushed by the weight of your horse. Whenever you’re in the vicinity of your horse, always wear sturdy boots.
  • Wear riding boots that are smooth soled, heeled, elastic-sided or long when you’re mounting.
  • Your stirrups should be 2-3cm wider than your boot. Novice riders and children should have safety stirrups.
  • Regularly check your saddle, reins and other horse tack.
  • Carry out maintenance whenever needed.
  • Competitive riders should wear body protectors to reduce the severity of soft tissue injuries.
  • Wear knee pads and face guards, especially if you are a polo player.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands.

Learn How to Fall Off Your Horse

You can minimize your chance of getting hurt by learning how to fall off your horse. It’s an art that you need to learn if you want to lower your risk of being hurt or injured. Learning how to fall off your horse is as important as learning how to get a clean flying change or how to sit the trot properly.

If you fall, never hold onto the reins. Holding on could cause you to dislocate your shoulder. Another thing that you must remember when you fall is to roll away from your horse. Your horse will either be getting up or running away so keep your distance from him if you don’t want him to step or fall on you.

When you become unseated, do not stick out your arms or legs. If you try to break your fall, its odds on that all you’ll break is your bone.

Safety is critical in horse riding. Click here to learn more safety tips.

 

The Importance of Stretching Your Horse

Stretching is a must-have before and after exercise. Doing your workout without a pre and post-stretching could put too much pressure on your muscles and you end up sore the whole week.

While stretching has become our mantra, did we ever stop and think if horses need stretching too? Just like human athletes, your horse needs their muscles to be on top condition too. If you want your horse to take you to greater heights in your horse riding career, it’s important that you maintain its overall health. Your horse could get its muscle strained, sore, stiff or tight and stretching its muscle is an effective way of avoiding this to happen.

What Are the Benefits of Stretching a Horse’s Muscles?

Dr. Jack Root, DVM, Oakhurst Equine Veterinary Services and Owner, Grindstone 1996 Kentucky Derby winner said, “We do not think enough about injury prevention.  By warming up the horse and then putting it through some stretches, we can increase range of motion and enable the horse to perform more fluidly and to the best of its ability.”

By safely and effective stretching the muscles of your horse, you reap the following benefits:

  • Maximizing the performance of your horse as stretching helps improve flexibility and range of motion (ROM).
  • Prevents injury by helping to guard against tendon shortening and muscle tightness and strengthening supportive tissue.
  • Helps reduce post-exercise muscle fatigue, stiffness and soreness.
  • Helps the horse to relax and improve its disposition.
  • Helps provide early warning signs of a potential injury and can help in rehabilitation of injury.
  • Helps improve the bond between the rider and the horse.

Science Explains Why Stretching Helps

Muscles are made up of several muscle bundles, which in turn are made up of muscle fibers. These muscle fibers have bundles of myofibrils, which are rod-like structures that run parallel to one another. Other muscles can attach other muscles with the help of a fibrous tissue called fascia. Tendons attach the muscles to the bone.

When there is an underuse or overuse of muscle, the afore-mentioned structures tighten or shrink which can result to discomfort, stiffness and negatively impact performance.  Dr. Ava Frick, DVM, explained, “Stiffness can result in injury, leading to inactivity, and eventually speed up the aging of the musculoskeletal system.  To remain supple, the connective tissue and muscles need regular stretching.  Stretching helps resist the gradual shortening and tightening of tissue that otherwise set in from both underuse and overuse, reducing discomfort and slowing the progressive loss of capacity that accompanies tightening.”

Do I Have to be an Experienced Rider to Stretch My Horse?

Absolutely not.

The great news is you don’t need to be an experienced rider to be qualified to stretch your horse’s muscles. Regardless of your riding ability or experience, anyone can learn how to perform horse stretching safely and effectively. There are many instructional videos and helpful articles that you can get your hands on. Read and watch as much of these useful guides as you can.

Andrea Quale of AndreasHorseTraining.com said, “The stretches Ilene taught me were a wonderful addition to my lesson horse, Wyatt’s, regimen. I was so impressed with the results, I started doing stretches with all of my horses, and I taught all of my students how to do stretch too!  I highly recommend stretching to anyone who wants to do everything possible to help their horse be successful in their work and happy in their body.”

Many people overlook stretching when it comes to horse healthcare. As a rider, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your horse is at its optimum health. It’s pretty clear that there are plenty of advantages in horse stretching. Not only does it prevent horse injury, it also helps improve the performance of your horse. Plus, when your horse is at its optimum health, you get to save money on vet and body worker bills.

Guidelines in Horse Stretching

  • Safety first for both the rider and the horse – Prior to stretching, examine your surroundings first and check if it’s safe and conducive for stretching. When helping your horse stretch, don’t forget to practice good body mechanics and ergonomics. Depending on your horse, you can do your stretches in a single tie, cross-ties, a ground tie, or with a holder.
  • Don’t perform stretches on cold muscles as it can cause strains, tears and other issues and injuries. All stretches should be performed on warm muscles.
  • Don’t cheat the stretch. If you want your horse to gain the maximum benefit of stretching, then you must perform proper stretching form.
  • Most stretches can be performed up to 5 days a week as long as your horse is healthy. Tail pull stretches, on the other hand, should not be performed more than 4 days per week.
  • Each horse has different stretching needs. The type of stretches and frequency that are appropriate for a horse recovering from an injury can greatly vary. Just because a certain stretch was effective on a different horse does not mean that it will also work similarly to your horse.
  • The duration of the stretch will vary depending on many factors such nutrition level, conformation, prior injury and muscle tightness. You can start with a 5-10 second hold time and you can increase it gradually to 30 seconds.
  • Never press on a joint to support a stretch or push or pull on joints.
  • Another effective technique in maximizing the benefit of stretching is deep breathing and relaxing your hands as much as possible.
  • If there is a noted pain or discomfort, never proceed to stretching.
  • Not all stretches contained in Stretch Your Horse videos are applicable to all horses. Before you start your stretching regimen, consult with an equine healthcare professional first.

Horse stretching may just take a few minutes of your time, but clearly the benefits can go a long way. Before you get on your horse, make it a habit that you don’t just stretch your body; stretch your horse’s muscles too.

For more helpful tips about horse riding, click here.

10 Things You Should Know Before Your First Horse Riding

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.

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.

Basic Safety Tips That You Should Know in Horse Riding

When you see riders galloping on their horses, you’d be impressed at how sophisticated and agile they look. You must know though that horse riding is not an easy activity and it could also be a dangerous one. I’m sure you have heard a story or two about someone getting hurt or injured while riding.

The danger that comes with horse riding should not hinder you from learning this activity though. With precautionary measures, you can stay away from injury and have a fun and exciting ride. Accidents can certainly be avoided as long as you put safeguards in place.

Below are horse riding safety tips that you must know:

Equipment

The first thing that you have to consider before going for a ride is what safety equipment to bring. Just like how a warrior goes to battle with his shield and armor, you should never go out empty handed. You certainly don’t want to be caught without protection.

So what is the necessary horse riding equipment that you must have?

Below are a must to give you a safe and enjoyable horse riding experience.

  • Underwear – Wearing the right underwear can drastically improve your performance. For women, a good sports bra is a must. This takes the strain off both the spine and the bust. For men, wear underpants or briefs that don’t have any seams that can rub against your skin when you’re riding.
  • Upper body – It could get hot when you’re working or riding in stables. To avoid being warm and getting cold, wear some type of functional clothing closest to the body to transport the moisture away. Wear a jumper or jacket on top that can keep your body dry and warm by wicking the moisture. Avoid wearing large and loose clothes as well as jackets equipped with hoods. Soft and close-fitting clothes are recommended.
  • Riding breeches and chaps – Riding breeches reduce the risk of blisters and help you have more stability in the saddle and sit better. Riding breeches can be made from various materials – the most commonly used are elastane, micropolyamide, polyester and cotton. Chaps are simple and practical way to pull on overriding breeches. Most chaps are made of napa leather or suede, but new models are made of waterproof nylon.
  • Gloves – Protect your hands when working with a horse or in the stables by wearing gloves. Three-finger gloves are ideal for winter riding.
  • Spurs and whips – Spurs and whips can help you reinforce your aids when it comes to giving commands or signals to your horse. There are various sizes and designs that you can choose according to what fits you and your horse.
  • Helmet – You could really hurt your head during falls or accidents. To lessen the risk of injury, it is important that you wear an appropriate helmet the whole time. Choose the one that fits your head snuggly.
  • Safety vest – Young riders and even experienced ones should wear safety vest to protect your torso. Aside from wearing the appropriate equipment, you should also make sure that your horse is comfortable and the saddle and everything else fit properly.

Your Horse

Choosing the right horse is not only essential for new riders, it is also important for everyone else. Some accidents happen because a rider chose a horse that is too powerful and too big for him. Make sure that you choose one that has a compatible size and strength as you are.

Most riders take time to get to know their horse first, especially if it’s a new one. They take their new horse out to feed or spend time with them first before breaking them in and riding them. You will be building a relationship with your horse so it’s important that you study every action and behavior of your horse. If you’re new in horse riding and want to take your green out, make sure that someone accompanies you just in case something unexpected happens.

Always strive to be calm and exude happiness when you’re near your horse. Horses can read all of your actions and emotions. When you’re happy, your horse will be in a better mood too. Avoid making jerky movements or sudden raise of tone. This could make your horse feel uneasy and tensed.

If your horse suddenly became agitated or disgruntled during a ride, you must remember not to deal with the situation while you’re still riding your horse. Dismount and try to calm your horse down from the ground. Trying to soothe a disgruntled horse while riding invites accident or injury.

Click here to learn how to calm your horse down.

Horse Riding Tips

Aside from the tips above, learn these general horse riding tips by heart.

  • Don’t ride alone – This is especially true when you are still new to this sport. Horses can get unpredictable and you don’t want to be alone when accident happens. Have a friend or a trainer accompany you on your practice. If riding alone is inevitable, let someone know where you are going and what time you should be home. This way, they know where to look for you should something unexpected happens.
  • Be cautious of your surroundings – Another skill that you must learn in horse riding is learning how to be cautious. Aside from being aware of your horse’s movements or reactions, it is also important that you study your surroundings. Horses can get startled quite easily so take extra caution when you are in a noisy environment.
  • Have an experienced rider or coach/instructor – This is especially true if you are just learning to ride. Horse riding could be dangerous sports so don’t ever try it alone. Take lessons from an experienced coach or rider. Aside from learning all the basics in a short period of time, you also reduce your risk of accidents or injuries.
  • When riding in a group, keep at least one horse length between each horse. Having all horses in a closer proximity could lead to a horse kicking another one.
  • Reduce the severity of injury when being trampled by the horse once on the ground by learning how to fall and roll away from the horse.

Click here for more helpful tips about horse riding.

 

Tips on How to Become a Better Horse Rider

Continuous practice is very important in everything you do. Regardless if you’re training for the Olympics, trying to beat your housemate on the highest score rank of Angry bird or pushing your luck to get in American Idol. Once you think you’re already doing well, don’t stop and push yourself even harder.

The same goes with horse riding. You may think that you have acquired all the necessary skills to be a good rider, but you just simply should not stop there. You should always strive to improve your horsemanship.

So how do you make yourself even better?

Below are some of the tips that you can apply to become an even better horse rider.

1. Practice Riding at least 3 Times a Week

If you want to improve your riding skill faster, it’s important that you practice as much as you can. You should invest a lot of your time in horse riding. Practicing at least three times a week can advance your skill tremendously.

When you’re only practicing ones in a blue moon, there won’t be much of a progress on your skill. It’s more likely that you forgot what you learned on your previous session and had to relearn the skill or technique. Not only it’s a waste of time but going around the circle could be frustrating.

Three times a week of practice is already a good number, it would even be better if you can increase the frequency of your training.

2. Keep Your Eyes on Your Goals

Whether you’re horse riding professionally or leisurely, all of us have goals that we’re aiming to achieve. In most cases, the road to our goals is not an easy one. You would meet a lot of humps and bumps along the way. No matter what the obstacles are, always remember your goal and focus on it. Road bumps could bring you down, but you should not allow them to be the cause of losing your focus.

Patience is another key. You may be eager to hit the finish line, but you should be patient enough to never skip any step. Never rush your horse just because you want to finish faster. Being impatient can do more harm than good.

3. Know the Basics First

It’s almost impossible to master something more difficult without knowing the basics yet.

If you want to be as good as Valentina Truppa, you have to take time to know the basics first. You should spend time researching and learning the basic skills needed in horse riding. You should also learn the rules of the game, as well as the do’s and don’ts when it comes to etiquette.

Once you have mastered the basics, you can then proceed to the more complicated stuff. Learning is always a process and you just can simply skip to the next step without taking the necessary first few steps yet.

4. Have Consistency When You are Near Your Horse

Horses may look big and strong, but they are very sensitive animals. They observe all of your movements and react on how you behave near them.

Always be consistent when you are near your horse. Training your horse does not only happen when you are in the saddle, it’s a holistic experience that goes beyond being on top of your horse.  Avoid jerky movements or sudden gestures when you are near your horse. A sudden raise of tone could send a different signal to your horse and it could cause him to panic or become uneasy. Keep yourself calm all the time. When faced with an unexpected situation, learn how to gather yourself and control your reaction. You certainly don’t want your horse to run frantically just because you saw a big rat at the corner of your eyes.

5. No Two Horses Are The Same

We should never come to a generalization that all horses are the same.

Just like human beings, each horse has its own unique qualities and characteristics. That is why it’s important that you treat each horse differently. Just because you had an easy time with the previous horse does not mean that you will experience the same with the new one.  Gauge each horse that you come across with and take time to get to know them.

You have to be patient if you want to become a successful horse rider. Don’t think that the technique that you learned from the previous horse will work exactly the same with the current one. It may take you more time to warm up on some horses but what’s important is the end result. Just continue on pushing through and all horses would eventually love you.

6. Pay Full Attention to Your Horse

You and your horse would spend a lot of time together.

When you are together, you have to pay full attention to your horse. Learn all of his movements and observe his reactions to your actions. By getting to know your horse better, you lessen the risk of accidents and injury. You will also have a better performance if you are sensitive to what your horse feels.

Horse riding is a team work. You won’t become successful alone; you have to consider your horse as a team member and knowing everything about your horse can certainly go a long way. After each training session, try to evaluate your performance as well as your horse’s. Take all the cues and clues from your horse and use these to improve your techniques.

7. Maintain a Happy Attitude

Your horse can pick up your different mood swings.

Horses are smart creature and they can sense if you are nervous, anxious or depressed. Having a negative mood can also affect your horse negatively. Try to create a happy aura instead whenever you are near your horse. Get rid of the negative emotions and focus on the positive things. A happy rider begets a happy horse.

Do you find this article helpful? Click here for more tips on how to become a better horse rider.

8 Common Horse Riding Mistakes New Riders are Guilty of Committing

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.

6. Slouching

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.

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Train Your Horse

Being a first-time horse owner is unarguably fun. Nothing beats the euphoria of having to take care of a live animal.

Owning a horse is not all a bed of roses and walks under the sun though. First, you need to know how to train your horse. Horse training can be a daunting and challenging experience.

If it’s your first time training a horse, it’s best that you stay away from young horses. They are too unpredictable and will just give your training a harder time. Leave the young horses to the experienced trainers who have lots of knowledge and skills on how to handle them.

Below are some of the tips that you need to take note when training a horse for the first time.

1 What You Need to Know Before You Begin

In order to have safe and effective horse training, you must learn a few things before you begin first. You should know how to approach a horse and what training methods are effective. You should also know how to gauge if your approach is working or not and what to do if it’s not working. In addition, you must know when to tell if your approach is working.

Having a round pen in horse training may not be necessary, but it’s beneficial if you work in an enclosed space such as a round pen, small paddock, arena or ring.

2 What Your Horse Needs to Know

It takes two to train a horse. Whilst it’s important that you need to have yourself educated, you should also need to study the other side of the party which is your horse. Learn everything that you must have about horses.

Below are some of the essential horse manners that you need to train your horse:

  • Lead Quietly in Hand
  • Allow Every Body Part to Be Touched
  • Stand Quietly to Have Feet Handled
  • Accept Paste Wormers
  • Get on a Trailer
  • Wait
  • Be Caught
  • Stand Tied

Click here to learn more about training these essential horse manners.

3 Safe Things You Can Train a Horse

Below are some of the safe tricks that first-time trainers can train their horses.

  • Neck Rein

It’s a useful skill to be able to neck rein or steer your horse with one hand. Neck reining makes things like swishing away flies while trail riding, carrying something, or opening gates without dismounting easier. It is also a fun, safe, and easy thing you can teach your horse even if you are not advanced rider.

What You Need:

  • A ring, arena, or place where you feel safe and your horse is attentive.
  • Your horse, saddle and bridled
  • Direct Reining

Direct reining or plow (plough) reining means you hold one rein in each hand. The right-hand uses the right rein to cue for a right turn while the left-hand cues for a left turn. It’s a very basic skill that you must learn and as you gain more horse riding experience, you’ll learn how to guide your horse more precisely and use the reins with more finesse.

What You Will Need

  • Your horse, saddled and bridled
  • Thin riding gloves to improve your grip on the reins.
  • You can initially work at a flat obstacle-free area and as your skills progress, you can add more obstacles.

It’s also fun to train your horse with some tricks. It’s quite enjoyable to watch your horse perform some tricks. Giving a hug and giving a kiss are two of the most basic tricks that you can teach your horse. Remember that it’s not safe to teach your horse how to kiss though if he tends to bit ‘mouthy’ and nips.

4 Training Ages and Stages

Horse owners often wonder what stuff they can do with their horse at a certain age. Knowing when the right time to train is very important. Training a horse is similar to training your kid. You can’t expect your toddler to wash the dishes and empty the trash.

What can a foal do, and can you teach old horse some new tricks?

As a general rule, new trainer’s horse owners are safer to train older horses. Younger horses may not be as suitable. There are more good reasons of buying an older horse for a beginner rider and owner.

You may be tempted to buy a younger horse thinking that you will have an easier bond and you get to spend more time with him. Younger horses though tend to be unpredictable so training them could be harder for those that don’t have any experience. Despite its age, older horses have a lot to offer. As long as you take care of him properly, even an 18 or 20-year-old horse can have many years to live.

5 Common Training and Behavior Problems

There could be several reasons why behavioral problems arise. In handling any training problem, it’s important that you get to the root cause and identify why a horse is behaving that way. Once you have a full grasp of the situation, you’d be able to successfully find a way on how to resolve the problem.

Below are some of the possible causes of common misbehavior:

  • Physical Discomfort – A horse can be in a substantial amount of pain without showing it; however he may resist doing activities that can cause him more pain. If your horse is disobeying you when you command him to do an activity, especially the ones that he performs well, you might consider checking if he’s unwell or in pain.
  • Lack of Education – Lack of education could be a cause of behavioral problem, especially for young and untrained horses. For example, it’s common for a foal to resist having his hoof held and lifted as this activity is not natural for a horse.
  • Interrupted Education – Horses are like people, they tend to forget things over time.
  • Mis-education – Mis-education of horses is not uncommon, especially if the training was done by amateurs. One of the most common practices is using too much pain and threat in training.
  • Conflicting Education and Signals – Consistent treatment is needed if you want your horse to show a consistent behavior. Having conflicting signals and different education will lead him to confusion and misunderstanding.
  • Environment, Stress and Boredom – Many horses are kept from their natural environment and this could lead to boredom and stress. These factors could lead to misbehavior.

Click here to learn more tips on how to become a better horse rider and trainer.