In this post we’ll list some advice to bear in mind when considering horse riding for beginners, including additional equestrian classes for more advanced training.
Having selected a convenient riding school and a good trainer, you will now be eager to start your riding lessons. Riding requires time, patience and hard work. Be mentally prepared to overcome your fear. Horses are sensitive animals and easily understand the riders’ emotions. Choose comfortable riding gear. Always wear a riding helmet and suitable boots. Wearing a puttee protects your leg muscles from cramps.
With your instructor’s help, learn how to saddle your horse properly. Do not be in a rush to master everything the first time itself.
Always mount your horse from the left. Adjust your leg stirrup and make sure it does not slip out of your foot. Your heel should always point down and toe up. Balance your body on the horse. When holding the reins, make sure your elbows are kept close to your body. Your forearms should appear as extensions of the rein.
Your lower legs should be fixed to the body of the horse. Grip the horse using your lower leg. All movement should come from above your knees.
The first step will be to get your horse to move. Believe me; it can be embarrassing when the horse refuses to move. The trick is to squeeze with your calves .You can apply some pressure with your heel as well. While walking, if you feel unbalanced, hold onto the front of your saddle/horse mane.
To turn your horse, pull the rein of the side you need to turn and apply pressure with your outside leg. To halt your horse, use your legs, hands and seat. Sit deeply in your seat, apply pressure to your legs and pull your reins back. Relax once the horse responds to your command.
Once you are comfortable with the Walk, move onto Trot. You learn to move up and down in rhythm, gripping the horse with the support of your lower leg. Learning to trot without a saddle /blanket is one of the most painful lessons, however one of the best techniques to balance yourself.
Squeeze tighter and raise in your stirrup every alternate step. The Canter follows the trot. Before a canter, resume a slow trot and apply pressure with your outside leg and jerk your reins slightly. Relax and get comfortable with the speed. You can really enjoy a Canter with a bit of practice.
- Begin on an old horse.
- Change horses to get more confidence.
- Never stand or sit right behind the horse.
- Approach the horse by talking to him softly so that you do not startle him.
- Always remember to pat your horse after your ride.
- Maintain your posture as per instructions from the start itself to be a good rider.
Equestrian Classes in the UK
A number of horse riding centres in various parts of the United Kingdom offer equestrian classes and courses for riders of all ages. Regardless of whether the rider is a professional or a novice, the qualified staff at those riding centres can help polish the riding abilities.
For example equestrian centres in the London area such as Kingston Riding Centre, Wimbledon Village Stables, Hyde Park Stables, The British Horse Society, and Wellington Riding in Hook, Hampshire offer standard lesson packages as well as tailored courses to suit specific needs of certain riders. Most of these equestrian centres offer classes such as:
A 30-minutes lunge class is usually offered for novices who want to learn the ropes but are afraid of being alone with the horse in the beginning. For safety purposes, an instructor accompanies on a lunge line, and provides lessons on balance, riding aids and coordination. The purpose of these classes is to equip the rider with enough confidence so he could handle the horse by himself.
Lunge classes are useful for those riders who haven’t had any professional training before and want to sort out any bad habits, improve sitting trot and fine-tune suppleness.
Private classes are most appropriate for beginners just off the lunge who are not yet ready for group lessons. Additionally, riders who need advance training for professional purposes also make use of private lessons and classes. Most of the times, the instructors determine the content of the classes according to the rider’s specific requirements.
Once the rider gets enough confidence in trotting, walking and cantering, he naturally progresses to advance lessons in group settings. Group classes provide an opportunity to learn alongside other riders in the presence of horses. Group lessons for advanced riders typically entail working the animals in lateral movements, for instance, shoulder-in or leg yield. These lessons cover show-jumping for advanced as well as novice riders, and help them understand how to send the horses from leg to hand for accomplishing a better self-carriage from the animal.
Many equestrian centres throughout the country offer summertime programs as well in addition to the all-year round classes. Summer programs are short courses, which incorporate several aspects of equestrianism in a single course, which is suitable for both beginners and experienced riders.
Stable Management Classes
For those interested in expanding their skills and knowledge of equestrianism, “theory-based” classes are also available. In the form of lectures, instructors cover basic to advanced topics concerning horsemanship. At the end of these courses, the enrolled clients have to undertake an examination, which is usually made available by the British Horse Society. The clients who clear the exam are academically qualified for barn management jobs and other equestrian staff jobs.