No one has become an excellent rider overnight. It takes time and possibly many mistakes before you can consider yourself a skilled equestrian.
You may perfectly realize that mistakes are part of your journey, but a couple of errors may nonetheless make you feel uncomfortable in your first lesson and maybe even repel you from horseback riding altogether. And to help you get an idea of what to expect and prepare for, we decided to compile a list of 6 basic yet crucial tips for your first lesson of horse riding in Dublin.
6 Tips For Your Horse Riding Lesson in Dublin
You don’t necessarily have to wear specialized riding gear for your first horse riding lessons. But there are some general rules that your attire should follow.
First of all, your pants should:
- Be soft not to irritate your skin.
- Be non-slippery to allow you to firmly sit in the saddle.
- Be stretchy, again not to irritate your skin and also allow you to move around easier.
- Be long so that your legs don’t get irritated by the horse’s hair or chafe against the saddle.
- Fit you well so that you are comfy in the saddle. Saggy pants should be avoided. You could wear yoga pants, exercise pants, or stretchy jeans for the first couple of weeks before getting riding gear.
It is quite likely that you are going to practice horse riding outdoors. Wearing a long-sleeve shirt is a great idea since it will protect you from the sun, as well as from scratches from branches or whatnot. To stay cool, choose a shirt made from a breathable material like cotton.
You may also layer up by wearing a long-sleeve shirt over a short-sleeved one, depending on the weather. If you get hot, you can just take the long-sleeve shirt off to cool down.
The best way to go about horse riding is to wear boots. Sneakers or tennis shoes simply won’t provide you with the support and protection necessary for horseback riding.
Now, some boots will work better than others. Ideally, your boots should:
- Come up to at least your ankle to provide you with support.
- Have a tall, at least 1-inch heel to help you stay on the stirrups.
- Have a hard toe to protect your feet when they are accidentally stepped on.
Safety helmets are extremely important since they protect your head. Besides, you will not be allowed to ride a horse without a helmet.
You may be provided with a safety helmet at the stable, but it may be a good idea to have your own. Before your first horse riding lesson, find out whether the stable is going to provide you with a helmet.
If they don’t provide helmets, then go and get one or borrow it from someone. Even if they do, you should probably have your own helmet since sharing helmets isn’t too hygienic.
Hold the Reins On Hip Level
One of the basic things to understand and learn in horseback riding is that the reins need to be kept at hip level. Raising your hands in an attempt to gain stability is good neither for the horse nor for you.
If your hands are higher than hip level, you won’t be able to pull back on them to stop the horse as effectively. On one hand, you will have less control over the horse. On the other, you may hurt the horse’s mouth if you pull the reins upwards.
So make sure to keep the reins on hip level in front of the stomach. And when wanting to stop, pull the reins back towards your belly button.
Don’t rely on the Reins Too Much
Reins are crucial in controlling the horse, but instead of pulling on them all the time, you may use your body weight to communicate with your horse.
Horses respond to subtle weight shifts well, and you should make use of it. This way, you’ll pull on the horse’s mouth less, and it will be less fatiguing for you to control the horse with your body weight.
When you want to turn left, look that way, gently press your right leg in the horse’s side, and move your left leg away from the horse. Also, lightly direct your horse in the required direction with the reins. Or if you want to slow down, just lean back in the saddle, and the other way around.
Sit Up straight
It’s extremely important that you sit up straight in the saddle. This is crucial for two reasons.
First, a straight posture allows you to sit more stably in the saddle. Not only that, you should press the balls of your feet in the stirrups and push your heels down. This way, your weight will be distributed evenly on the horse’s back, allowing you to sit more comfortably.
Speaking of weight, here is where the second reason for sitting straight lies. Remember that horses are sensitive to subtle weight changes? Well, if you don’t distribute your weight evenly, you may confuse your horse. Instead of going in a straight line as you’d expect, your horse may go in whatever direction your weight is shifted in.
Relax & Stay Confident
Your horse may feel that you’re nervous and become uneasy too. Horses are also sometimes a bit mischievous: they often can sense a new rider, and they may take advantage of that and mess around with you by breaking out into a run or trying to throw you off.
Maintain your balance on the horse’s back, stay in control of the horse, and be confident. If your horse stays calm, the practice will become much easier for you.
Don’t try to Gallop on Your First Horse Riding Lesson
You may be excited to make a run on your first lesson after watching some derby, but the reality is that galloping is out of the question at the first couple of lessons. You need to learn the basics first.
Some horses have very choppy and sloppy gallops. So how would you able to stay on horseback as a complete novice? Mastering proper positioning in the saddle comes first. In addition, there are other, slower horse gaits that you need to practice like trot or canter. Not to mention that you still have to learn how to walk a horse properly.
There’s nothing wrong with slow walking. Feel the way your horse is walking, stay calm, and move your body in rhythm with your horse. And once you become confident enough in walking, you may try faster gaits under supervision.