Horse Riding for Novices

Horses have a well-earned reputation with regards to their nobility: it is an ineffable quality that is best realised when one actually spends time with one of these beautiful creatures. Unfortunately, given their size and obviously muscular bodies, horses can be enormously intimidating animals to novices. The pay-off, however, of overcoming the fear (and perhaps even awe) inspired by a horse could possibly be the opportunity to ride one. The feeling of having the power of a large animal beneath you, and that you and s/he collude together in order to bring about a desired result gives rise, when reflected on, to a sense of astonishment.

The communication between rider and horse creates a bond that begins with mutual respect and often develops over time into a loyal and affectionate friendship. This type of bond is as emotionally rewarding as any other friendship, even if this last assertion is difficult to accept at first.

If you are interested in horse riding (for either pleasure or even competitive purposes), a good place to start the process is to get in touch with a nearby stable and enquire if you could volunteer for a short period of time. Most stables will gladly reciprocate your interest in horse riding, and will show you the figurative “ropes”. Spending time in a stable, even helping out with the menial tasks will afford you the possibility to gain some familiarity with horses, and perhaps even get to know a bit about how they communicate with their bodies.

Once you feel more comfortable around horses and have perhaps helped to groom a few (allowing you to get into an intimate space with the animal), the next stage in the process can begin: riding. Most stables will not allow a novice to ride a horse without an instructor being present in order to protect both the rider and the horse from injury. Instructors will guide your learning process, teaching you correct seating and riding techniques, how to treat the horse when riding, and how to correctly put riding gear (known as “tack”) onto the animal. Cleaning the tack after a ride is also important, and grooming the animal will further build trust between you two. Grooming has the additional benefit of giving a caretaker or rider an opportunity to inspect the horse for injuries or illness.

As there is a proper procedure when it comes to grooming and getting a horse ready for a ride, never neglect to follow the procedure as taught by the instructor: failure to correctly put the tack onto the horse could result in injury. All gear put onto the horse should be attached quite firmly to its body, but it is important that it is loose enough to be comfortable for the horse, especially if you’re planning on going on a long ride.

There are some other safety considerations to bear in mind when around a horse: don’t make sudden or aggressive movements as this might startle the horse or cause it to act defensively; avoid making loud noises around the horse, as this, too, might “spook” it; never stand behind or directly in front of a horse as this will make you vulnerable to a kick (a kick from a horse could be fatal, so this is important); as a beginner, avoid low branches or other obstacles which require dexterity and experience to navigate; remember that there is always a risk that you might fall off the horse, which could result in serious injury; and finally, bear in mind that if you treat a well-tempered horse with respect and don’t hurt it, you’ll be safe on his/her back under all normal circumstances.

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