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What to Expect at Your First Riding Lesson


riding lessonYou've picked your trainer, purchased your clothing and arrived at the stable, but what should you expect to learn at your first lesson? Here is a list, from beginning to end, of what to expect during your first day on horseback.

1. Leading your horse from the stall

To begin with, do not enter the stall if the horse has his tail turned towards you. Only enter the stall with the permission of the instructor if the horse is facing your direction. Your horse will probably be tacked up already. Take the reins under the chin in your right hand and hold the length of the reins in your left hand so they don't drag on the floor. Shout "Heads Up!" to alert other riders that you will becoming down the alley. Hold your right arm, with the hand holding the reins under the chin, straight out to the side so that you both are walking in different areas and the horse won't accidentally step on you.

2. Entering the Arena

Lead your horse into the center of the arena and turn him so he is facing the in-gate. Horses should always face the in-gate so they aren't startled by other horses or surprises coming into the arena.

3. Mounting

This will be the first thing you will learn. Don't try to mount your horse until your instructor tells you and helps you. The first step is checking the equipment to make sure it is on correctly and safely. You will check the saddle pad to make sure it is protecting the horses' back, the girth to be sure it's tight enough, and the bridle to make sure the parts are secured in the correct places.

You will then probably receive a leg up or you will mount from a mounting block. You will ALWAYS mount and dismount from the left side of the horse. Take the reins in your left hand and grab a section of mane in your hand as well. Your right hand will hold the stirrup and you will place your left foot into the stirrup. Firmly take hold of the back of the saddle, or cantle, with your right hand and swing your right leg up and over the horse without kicking him in the hindquarters. Now is the challenge! Try not to drop heavily into the saddle, but to come down light and easy!

Once you are settled into the saddle, the instructor should check the girth once again and then adjust your stirrups.

4. What You Will Likely Learn Once Mounted

Sitting- You will learn how to sit as though you're standing with your knees bent. You do not sit on a horse as though it's a chair but forward on the bones.
Straight Back- You will learn how to sit properly, lifting from the base of your sternum, not the base of your back, allowing your shoulder to stay back more naturally.
Leg Beneath You- You will learn how to keep your legs against the horse, bent slightly so your foot is just behind the knee and your calf is behind the girth and against the horses' side.
Heel- You will be taught to keep your down with the stirrup iron on the ball of your foot
Hands- will be taught how to hold the reins and where to hold them
Head- You will be constantly reminded to keep your head up and eyes looking ahead
Walk- You will be taught how to make the horse walk, turn and stop. If you catch onto these things quickly you'll also learn how to trot.

Dismounting: Remember, now matter how you get off the horse, you will ALWAYS dismount on the right side!


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