Horseback riding is an exciting sport that allows you to form a bond with a strong and noble animal. Follow a few simple guidelines and you will be galloping with your new friend in no time!
What to wear? Long tight pants, such as beat-up jeans that you don’t mind getting dirty will do a good job protecting your legs from friction. Footwear is essential: boots with no less than one inch heels will keep your feet firm in stirrups. Try looking for footwear that is as close to cowboy boots as possible. Also, make sure you are wearing a proper riding helmet, bring water bottle and sunscreen.
Don’t wear sloppy or loose clothing as it might get caught on the saddle, which can be dangerous if you happen to fall off, because it means you could get dragged. For the same reason, it’s a big mistake to tie yourself to the saddle or horse in any way. You could get hurt more than if you fall clear off.
Mounting: mount on the left side, as most horses are used to being approached like this. Take the reins with your left hand, put your left foot in the left stirrup and then push yourself over the saddle (while still holding the reins). Immediately put your right foot in the stirrup.
Reins: hold one rein in each hand, so that each rein sits between your little and ring finger. Don’t leave the reins too long: it is important to keep a proper hand position when you ride, otherwise you will lose control of the horse. Don’t jerk on the reins, or use them to keep your balance, because you might hurt your horse’s mouth and lose balance.
Stirrups: make sure they are of the proper length. They should be long enough so your legs don’t feel cramped, but not so long that you need to reach for stirrups with your feet. When putting your feet in stirrups, you should feel a natural bend in your knee.
Body posture: don’t slouch, don’t clench with your legs and don’t draw your knees up like you are sitting in a chair. Instead, sit up straight but relaxed, with your legs hanging from your hips.
After the ride, don’t forget to thank your horse for hard work by giving it a treat. Offer it an apple or a carrot holding your hand out flat.