Horseback Riding may seem simple, but the truth is that you need years of practice and determination to become an accomplished rider. Horseback riding is probably one of the oldest hobbies known to man, yet it fulfills virtually every definition of outdoor sport, yet is often perceived as a simple activity, not much more than a hobby. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, some of which are very valid. For example, most people who think of themselves as being “in the horse game” probably haven’t spent many years riding on horses. This is a great reason to approach the subject with cautious optimism; you don’t want to waste your time or your money, but you also don’t want to give up learning how to ride within a few weeks.
The first thing that beginner riders should know about is that horseback riding falls into a discipline just like riding a motorcycle. In other words, there are no real rules that say you can’t ride a horse and yet not understand the discipline. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: horseback riding disciplines are based on common sense, universal rules that apply to everyone, regardless of how long they’ve been riding horses. So as a beginner in the discipline, you’ll find yourself learning quite a bit almost immediately, as you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
One of the best ways to get started is to talk to other horseback riders in your community or online. Beginner riders can learn a lot from talking to those who have more experience, since they will have already overcome some of the most basic hurdles to becoming a good rider. Additionally, you may find that a person who has more experience than you will be willing to teach you the basics in return for some guidance in your first few lessons with him or her. Another good place to find information on the basics is through books or e-books geared towards equestrian topics. Again, these can be purchased at many different bookstores, online, or in specialty shops focused on horseback riding. The important thing to remember here is that beginner riders should never feel as if they need to completely reinvent the wheel, because doing so can actually be quite dangerous.
Once you have a firm grasp on the basics, you can start to move on to learning how to handle your horse. If you haven’t ridden a horse before, it’s a good idea to take some training lessons, whether it’s at your local stables, with a trainer, or through the purchase of a quality horseback saddle. Beginners should focus their efforts here on learning how to properly steer their horse while seated, as well as learning how to control the horse’s head and torso. It’s important that beginners understand that a horse is a living, breathing animal, and thus they need to know how to communicate with it in a natural, non-threatening manner.
Another important thing for a beginner to learn is proper weight distribution. A lot of beginner horseback riders simply lift the horse up instead of moving it around on the back because they are afraid of overworking the horse. It’s also important that a beginner learns how to efficiently use their body weight, such as when setting themselves into position for a cut, turning, and then fully retracting their legs as they’re about to give the horse a bit.
When you’re ready to buy your first horse, it’s a good idea to also buy a quality saddle, leash, and tack. If you’re just getting started, I recommend that you stick to inexpensive yet nice saddles, because you’ll need them later on. As you become more experienced, you can invest in fancier saddles, but until then you should stick to basic ones. Beginner riders also need to remember that their first horse will be saddled with beginner equipment, so they need to be prepared for this fact before they buy their own equipment.