Sunday, June 24, 2018

How to Prepare for Your First Horseback Riding Lesson by Mike Shortridge

How to Prepare for Your First Horseback Riding Lesson
by Mike Shortridge

After booking your first horse riding lesson you might start to panic wondering what to expect and if you have everything you need in terms of riding gear and equipment. Don’t worry; we have compiled this quick guide to show you exactly how to prepare for your first lesson.

1.     Start thinking about your fitness
Many people think horse riding is a case of just sitting on a horse and it’s easy but don’t be fooled – it’s hard work and great exercise so you might want to start thinking about your fitness levels in general.

Once you start riding you will soon realise just how much exertion is required to get on and stay on a horse as it moves, but don’t worry, riding is good exercise in itself. Being somewhat fit will help you to avoid muscle aches and pains and becoming too saddle sore however so you might want to think about upping your workouts ready for that first lesson.

2.   Riding clothes
It’s important to wear the right clothes when riding for the first time, for your own comfort and safety. While most schools will loan a riding hat for the first couple of lessons it’s always better to have one of your own which fits perfectly and has never been in any kind of collision with the ground.

In terms of footwear, you need to have either shoes or boots with a solid heel so that your foot can’t just slip straight out of the stirrup. You need a smooth sole and boots are the best option as they offer protection to your ankles as well. Trainers and any kind of open toe shoes are a complete no-no.

Professional riders where jodhpurs which are always a good idea as they are reinforced in the right places to prevent rubbing while riding, however, if you don’t have any then opt for leggings instead. Never ride in jeans as the material and seams will definitely rub and cause pain and soreness.

3.   Contact with your horse
When you come for a first lesson you should be prepared to get to know the horse you will be riding, by spending time with it and letting it get to know you. This is essential bonding time to help both of you work together as a successful horse and rider partnership.

4.   Learn about the safety issues
Safety is paramount so on your first lesson the riding school should talk you through how you can expect the horse to behave and key safety areas around dealing with horses and behaviour in the yard, should be laid out for you to help avoid any unnecessary risks.

5.    Finding your perfect riding position
After you have met the horse and been advised of all the safety aspects which you need to be aware of, the first lesson will normally involve you mounting the horse, followed by a lot of adjustments of stirrups and reins to make sure you are in exactly the right riding position for you and the horse.

6.   Expect to be led
Don’t be worried that you will be let loose with a horse in the woods on your first lesson – this will never happen in a reputable riding school. For your first lesson you can expect to be riding around an indoor school, with an instructor leading the horse on a long rein, while you get used to the feel and movement, and concentrate on balancing.

7.    Have some questions prepared
If there is anything you are unsure about then do ask the instructor as you will be building up a rapport with them during each lesson. If there is any aspect of horse riding which you want to find out about, then prepare some questions for them in advance of the lesson.

8.   Expect to have soreness and aching muscles
You should be prepared to be stiff and aching the next day, because you will have been using a lot of muscles constantly just to stay balanced as the horse moves around. Don’t worry, as your body gets used to what is required, it will get easier but it might be worth planning an easy day after the lesson takes place, to allow your body to adjust.

Going for your first riding lesson is a really exciting time but if you are not used to being around horses it can also feel a bit daunting. However, with our tips on preparing for the first lesson, you should feel completely at ease and ready once you arrive.

The main thing about horse riding to remember is to have the right clothing, take it slow and steady and don’t expect to be show-jumping on the first day – above all enjoy the experience.

Mike is a freelance writer who contributes regularly for During his spare time, he likes to binge watch on his latest TV obsession and go hunting for obscure vinyl toys.

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