March 29, 2008 - Admin
Horse Riding Lessons
By Sean Prenderville
The decision is made; you want to take horse riding lessons. What a great choice of exercise and pleasure! However, just making the decision to learn to ride is not enough. You need to decide what sort of horse riding lessons you would like best. Your primary decision at this point is whether you think you would prefer to ride Western or English. If you choose English, you may have to choose between jumping or dressage seat or both if you event.
Perhaps your location will help you determine which type of horse riding lessons you will take. Most people look in their community for an instructor so your choices may be limited. Regardless of your choice in riding styles, look for an instructor with a good reputation. Ask your friends for suggestions and, once you have located an instructor, ask for references. Also, spend some time visiting the stable where you plan to take your horse riding lessons. Observe the horses to see if they are well cared for and if the stables appear clean and in good order. If you are satisfied with the facilities, make an appointment and get ready for a life changing experience.
Before the big day of your first horse riding lesson, you need to purchase a riding helmet and appropriate riding attire. As a beginner, it is best to keep your purchases modest and not opt for show quality clothes and boots. Depending on the style of riding you have chosen, you will need a pair of jeans and western boots for Western riding or a pair of jodhpur boots and jodhpur breeches. Any comfortable shirt appropriate to the season will do.
Try to arrive early for your first lesson. It is common to sign some paperwork, including a release of liability, prior to your lesson. When a farm decides to offer horse riding lessons, they are much more vulnerable to law suits if accidents occur. Most farms have insurance to cover their exposure but, you, the rider, must help in making this a safe experience for everyone. Be honest about any prior riding experience. If you have only ridden once and it was twenty years ago, do not tell the instructor that you are experienced. The instructor must choose the horse that matches your level of experience and inflated reports of your ability can lead to your being mounted on a horse that is not suitable for beginners.
There is much more to horse riding lessons than simply mounting and riding. All students should learn to groom their horse. Before placing the saddle and bridle on your horse, you should complete two very important steps. First, inspect the tack for any signs of loose stitching or cracked leather. Be sure to point out any problems to your instructor. Secondly, you should always groom your horse. Dirt and debris should be removed by thoroughly currying and brushing his coat. Inspect the hooves as you clean them out. This process removes any stones and muck that could lead to injury. There is an old adage, “no hoof, no horse” and it is just as true today. Before you can take your horse riding lesson, you must have a sound and healthy horse. Likewise, after you complete your lesson, you should again clean the feet and groom the coat to remove any sweat or dirt which may have accumulated during your ride. Be sure to clean and oil your tack as needed to keep it supple and in good condition.
Horse riding lessons are a great way to spend your recreational time. You will make many friends at the stable and develop a life long sport. At minimum, be sure to continue your lessons until you have gained the basics of riding at the three gaits, that is walk, trot and canter both in the ring or manege and outside, if you plan to ride in uncontrolled environments. Horse riding lessons are great for all ages so be sure to consider making it a family sport.
Sean Prenderville is a retired Accountant and Horse Riding Instructor.
Since my retirement I have devoted all of my spare time to horses and horse riding. I have over forty years experience of riding and teaching. For more information please visit http://www.horseriding-for-all.blogspot.com