Riding a horse is an amazing experience. Many horseback riders can tell you of the joy, discipline and connection with nature they have gained from these powerful, beautiful creatures. Riding is physically demanding and carries some risk. The safest and best way to learn is to take professional riding lessons.
When beginning, a horse will be chosen for you based on its dimensions. There are two common styles of riding. The Western style, which is most popular in America, is what you have probably observed in films and rodeos. The English style is stricter and more formal. This style is observed for most equestrian sports. Seating posture and leg positioning between the two are different. Western style, being more casual, is easier to learn.
The ultimate success in riding is to become one with the horse on both a physical and mental level. Horses can sense your feelings and comfort level. Before riding, you should first learn to understand and handle a horse. This is accomplished by spending time with the horse. Approach a horse slowly and with care. Always touch gently. Watch out for signs of agitation. If its ears go back and you see the whites of its eyes, this is a sign that it may soon bite or kick. A horse is a herd animal by nature, and a rider becomes its leader. Once mutual understanding and respect is established, a horse will trust your guidance implicitly.
Appropriate apparel is important when learning to ride. A helmet is essential for preventing head injuries. Your instructors may provide one for you. Comfortable, strong boots are another must-have. Riding gloves are recommended; these prevent your hands from becoming blistered by the reins. Jeans with studs should not be worn as the studs can damage the saddle. An effective insect repellent is highly recommended.
While learning the basics of riding, it may be helpful to mentally compare the horse to a car. Think of the rear of the horse as your engine, the front legs and shoulders as your steering, and the mouth as your brakes. When using a bit, remember that the horse has a soft mouth and you must not be heavy-handed. Falling is a concern for many beginners, and it is a valid one. Unfortunately, just like when you learn to walk or ride a bike, falling is inevitable. Your instructor will give safety advice.
Above all, respect the horse as a living, sentient being. Even though it is much stronger and larger than you, it has agreed to let you lead it and has given you its complete trust. This should always be considered an