When beginning horseback riding lessons it’s not easy to know what to expect. What to wear, what are the basics of western horseback riding, what are the benefits? All questions you may be asking yourself.
So if you are a horseback riding beginner, we are here to guide you to be prepared and at ease for this brand new experience!
The Benefits of Horseback Riding Lessons for Beginners
There are so many reasons why horseback riding could be good for you.
The British Horse Society claims horse riding is an effective way to exercise. Your core, arms, and legs are all engaged when on the saddle. While we know riding is a type of exercise, many activities related to the horses and the stable are also physically challenging. You don’t even realize you’re exercising when mucking out the stalls, brushing the horses, or lifting water buckets.
Now we know the physical benefits, but there’s even more! Riding with your loved ones creates a bond like no other! Take care of the horses together, go on trail rides, enjoy the outdoors and learn new skills as a team.
As many of you may know, studies show being surrounded by animals can be therapeutic. So it’s also great for your mental health! It can help with depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Creating a bond with the animal and being aware of that connection will definitely boost your mood and help you focus on what’s important which is each other’s needs.
Horseback riding usually means being outdoors. In today’s society, we spend most of our time inside, but studies have shown that spending time in nature can also be beneficial for your mental and physical health as well!
Let’s be honest, it’s always nice to spend a little time outside, enjoying nice landscapes and fresh air.
Beginning your horseback riding pursuits can lead to physical and mental well-being and familial bonding. Reduced stress, time in nature, core memories being made, and keeping yourself in shape? What more could you ask for?
The Most Common Disciplines in Western Horseback Riding
Western riding includes many disciplines, and here are the most :
- Roping: the goal is to tie a calf with a lasso as fast as possible while on your horse, then quickly dismount and restrain the calf.
- Reining: this discipline can be looked at as Western dressage. The rider must guide the horse through a series of patterns, such as circles, turns, spins, and stops.
- Barrel racing: in barrel racing, you can find three barrels arranged in a clover pattern. The goal of the rider is to go around them with the horse as fast as possible.
There are so many other disciplines in Western horseback riding, and everyone can find something that peaks their interest. For beginner horseback riding lessons we advise you to try or at least look at those disciplines for a better idea of what you would try.
The Steps of Beginner Western Horseback Riding
Now, let’s get into what steps you should expect when beginning your horseback riding passion!
Steps to Take Before Arrival
The first step is to prepare yourself with the right outfit. Long pants and closed shoes with some kind of small heel are the hallmarks of riding. You should be aware of any loose ends or pieces of fabric hanging down, as it can be dangerous for you and your steed. Wearing heeled shoes will help keep your feet from coming out of the stirrups, and a helmet to protect your head from any encounters with the ground or tree branches is key.
You should also prepare yourself mentally. Horses are intuitive creatives and assuming they can feel all your emotions is important for both of you during your ride. Being calm before and during the ride is highly recommended, as a horse reacts to any nervousness or anxiety. It's also highly encouraged to arrive at the stable at least 15 minutes before the ride to get to know your horse and allow them time to get comfortable with you.
When You Arrive
The next step in horseback riding is to get on the horse, which is mentioned above. It’s good to arrive early and meet the gentle giant you’ll be riding with. If you don’t feel comfortable with mounting the horse mounting, most stables have a mounting block or a small set of stairs to help you.
In terms of getting on your horse, you should always put your left foot in the left stirrup first, and then swing your other leg over the horse. While you get on the horse, you should hold the reins in your left hand, or hold the pommel of the saddle. This helps with stability while positioning yourself for the ride.
Before and During Riding
Once on your horse, the instructor will explain the basics behind knowing how to change directions and speeds. The reins are linked to a bit inside the horse’s mouth. This bit will tell the horse what you want them to do. If you want to turn right, you should pull the right rein toward you, and if you want to turn left, you will have to pull the left rein. To stop or slow down, you just have to gently pull back on the reins.
One important thing to remember is to be gentle with the reins. To change speeds, the only thing you will have to do is squeeze the horse’s side with the inside of your legs. Sometimes a gentle kick with the heel will be helpful. It’s good to remember these movements and guides also depend on the horse you are riding and how they respond to cues. Horses have 3 speeds: walk, trot, and canter. During the first lesson, you will likely stay on a walk to get used to being on the horse.
After the Lesson
At the end of a lesson, and before the cool down, you can dismount your horse. To do that, you need to be completely stopped. After you are completely stopped, only then can you can take off your stirrups, hold onto the pommel with your right hand, and swing the right leg over the horse’s back. Once you are down, do not hesitate to pet your horse. By petting your horse you create a bond while saying thank you for the ride.
The Cool Down
The last step is crucial and that’s the cooldown. Just like you need rest after exercising, a horse also needs a cool-down period before the lesson ends. To cool down a horse, you can remove all the tack, which will lighten the load for the horse and make them more comfortable. After you’ve removed the tack you walk the horse around for a few minutes. You can look at the pace of its breathing to have a better idea.
If the horse is cooled down, its breathing will slow, and it will appear more relaxed.
Now you know what to expect from your first Western horseback riding lesson! Do not hesitate to come with your family and enjoy a delightful trail ride across lovely lands. If you're ready to experience these Western riding lesson options and horseback riding disciplines come to The Pine Hill Ranch!
Head over to our lessons page to figure out which one is right for you. Please call us at (501) 830-6232 if you have any questions!