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Tips for Horseback Riding


horseback ridingWhether just looking for a chance to get out and go horseback riding for fun, or looking into owning your own horse, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Remain Calm
From start to finish, one of the most important tips to successfully horseback riding is staying calm, cool and collected. Horses can sense fear, just like any other animal, and if you lose your confidence they will lose confidence in you. If they think they can get away with not doing as they're told, many will. The best way to stay in charge is to take a deep breath, slow your heart rate, and be in charge. If you're the boss the horse will obey.

2. Mounting
Stand on its left side and gently put your left food in the stirrup, keeping both hands on the front side and holding the wither. Do NOT hold the saddle or it will simply slide off. Firmly push up and swing your right leg around and over the back of the horse. Be careful that you don't kick the horse in the flack and seat yourself in the saddle.

3. Check Stirrup Length
Let your legs hang down near the stirrups and check that they reach to your ankles. You should be able to slip your feet into the stirrups easily but simply lifting them slightly.

4. Leg or Rein Guide
Most horses are taught to follow leg commands and some are taught to slow or turn through the reins. Find out which your horse has been taught to do and run through some practice with them. Don't be afraid to ask your guide or instructor for help and guidance.

5. Bit Reining or Neck Reining
Which is your horse used to? Horses that are English trained should be Bit Reined meaning you gently tug to get the turn. Neck Reining is a western style training in which you lay the reins along the neck and slide them in the direction you'd like them to move.

6. Posture
Posture is perhaps the most difficult part of learning how to ride a horse. You must keep your spine straight but relaxed with shoulders, head and spine stacked over the hips. You should sit heavy in the seat and remain light on your heels and legs as these are often used to guide and control the horse. Learn to keep you body in time with the horse as this will help you remain seated.

7. Getting Started
As mentioned above, many horses are trained through leg and foot signals. Squeeze your thighs and your horse should move forward. If it gives you trouble, scoot a couple times in the saddle towards the front while squeezing. This tells the horse that you're down right serious about getting a move on.

8. STOP!
Pull on the reins (NOT HARD), and sit back, allowing your weight to settle into your heels. Once the horse has come to a complete stop, pat them on the neck and thank them.

9.  Trotting
If you feel you are ready to try something a little more advanced than a walk around the kiddy yard, consider trotting. Get your horse into a walk, and then squeeze them a little harder for a trot. Trotting brings a lot of bump, so try to go with the movements of the horse to minimize the impact.

10. Remember that nothing is more important than having a relationship with your horse. You must trust that it will obey you and it must trust that you know what you're doing. Be confident, prepared and don't be afraid to ask questions!

Now get out there and ride!


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