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Start Safer With Horse Riding Activities – The Basics You Need To Know

GETTING STARTED WITH HORSE RIDING

Learn how to ride a horse, get back in the saddle or own a horse one day.

Ever been invited for horse riding and you couldn’t because you don’t know how to ride a horse or perhaps you are scared?

Riding a horse might be frightening at first but you will love it once you get accustomed to the saddle! It’s an exciting way to socialize, exercise your mind or to simply relax. The beauty is that almost anyone can learn how to ride a horse albeit with discipline, focus, and practice. 

Whether you want to learn how to ride a horse as a pro or for fun, we have some tips to get you started. 

TOP TEN TIPS FOR BEGINNER HORSE LOVERS

To Have a Safer Start with Horses

TIP 1 – Find a professional horse trainer/coach and learn how to ride a horse from experienced horse people. 

Listen to a coach that has been around horses their whole life and has experienced many different horse disciplines including types of horses.  (If someone has only done one type of discipline they might not be able to point you on the best path for your needs.)

Ever heard of the saying “Learn from the experts, you will not live long enough to figure it all out by yourself.” Well, it is not possible to figure everything you need to know about horse riding by yourself.

As a beginner, finding a professional trainer is the best way to get started particularly in matters of safety. A trainer will provide tips and guidance on good horse controls, movements, horse cueing, turning and stopping the horse etc.

A horse riding coach will get you started on the right foot as a beginner. Additionally, a trainer will reassure you and make you feel like a pro while learning. 

**Get Professional assistance to prevent accidents – horses are dangerous animals if you don’t do things right. Find a good coach and riding centre. Ask the questions:

  • How long has the riding centre been operating and is the horse experienced with beginner riders.
  • How long has your coach been riding and what type of riding have they done? What have they achieved in their horse journey, training horses or competing?
  • Is your coach qualified through longevity of experience or qualifications and can they explain things well?
  • Can your coach teach beginners and break things down to explain how the body communicates with the horse?

TIP 2 – Don’t go out and buy a horse until you have sufficient experience. If you haven’t learnt to handle a horse, ride a horse up to canter or how to train a horse then don’t go out and buy one.

TIP 3 – Buy the correct gear/equipment.    If you are going to learn properly then invest in a pair of riding boots and a comfortable, good fitting helmet. A beginner’s starter pack includes boots, gloves, helmet, jodhpurs, reins and grooming gear. Check it out here: https://horseridinghub.com/beginnersridergearpack/

TIP 4 – Select a horse that is best for you.  If someone is pushing you to buy a horse then they usually have something to gain and are not looking at what’s best for you.

The other advantage that comes with getting a professional trainer is that they will help you select a suitable horse. Did you know that there are different disciplines of horse riding?

Horses are trained differently to perform different functions. For instance, we have horses trained for obstacles i.e. Jump logs, canter through streams and those trained for a basic, slow and comfortable ride. So, take time to learn how to ride different horses preferably with the help of a horse expert.

TIP 5 – Get exposure to learning how to do EVERYTHING from the ground up.    Make sure you don’t just get riding lessons.  Ask if you can learn horse care as well, offer to help with the stable duties at your local centre.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the horse. 

**Begin with a hello? Yes, greeting the horse before a ride is just one of the ways of getting started on a positive note. Horses are wonderful living creatures that have emotions and sense.

When a new person wants to take them for a ride, they may tend to feel nervous or uneasy. Extending your arm and offering the back of your hand for the horse to smell and touch it with the nose, is a great way of reducing any possible tension. Take this time to understand the body language of the horse and create a connection before riding.

**Know the Horses Body Parts and Saddlery parts. Riding a horse without knowing its body and saddlery parts is not very wise. Imagine having an emergency and you are not sure what part does what? Or imagine owning a horse and not being able to tack it up?

It’s very important to familiarize yourself with major parts e.g. the muzzle, throat latch, flank, fetlock, hock, rump, frog, etc. Simply learn all parts and how they affect your ride. 

TIP 6 – Prepare your horse for a ride. Just like cars, horses are prepared before take-off. Part of preparing a horse includes ensuring that you have the right equipment and that safety measures are put in place. 

**Checking the horse for safety.  For starters, check that the horse is in a good health condition (the coat is shiny, weight condition so you can’t see the ribs too much and walking without any limping). Always handle the horse safely whether you are grooming or saddling, move slowly and don’t stand behind them. 

**Have the equipment ready – It is very important to ensure that you and your horse have the right equipment before a ride. The halter and lead are tied correctly before you approach the horse. Ensure it is groomed properly, the saddle is safe and fitted correctly.  Having the right equipment ensures that the horse is comfortable and you can have a safe ride.

TIP 7 – Remember that starting out should be fun –  It’s not about competition or looking pretty, there is lots to learn before this path.

TIP 8 –  Understand that horses involve hard work.  Which includes daily care and how to use a shovel, the lovely smell of manure, how to tie knots and how to fix things that break and make things safe.

TIP 9 – Conquer the fear and learn, how to manage horses safely.   With fear you will get hurt and won’t be able to become the boss and you will never be able to control a horse well enough.  Horses that feel fear will stomp all over you.  Maybe not your lovely quiet riding school horse, but it will happen throughout your horse life if you don’t work through your fear with a quiet horse first.

TIP 10 – Make sure your instructor challenges you to progress, constantly moving forward with your riding skills and learning new things.   Staying at a walk or slow trot will not prepare you for a spooky or naughty horse or a bad weather day or a trail ride when a car goes past too fast.  You need to learn everything about riding up to canter and how to move a horse slow and fast and how to stop and turn and how to move your horse through different patterns and exposure to different disciplines. Also very important is to be able to ride different horses as well. 

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STEP BY STEP CHECKLIST – ARE YOU READY TO RIDE?

Most importantly, get assistance from an experienced horse person/coach

1. Handle Horses

  • Have Horse Sense: understand horse body language to approach and manage your horse 
  • Know Horse Body Parts and Saddlery parts
  • Prepare your horse properly to ensure a good ride
  • Choose an appropriate horse for the chosen activity (a horse riding school is the perfect start with horses that are trained to handle beginners)
  • Horse is cared for properly so feed type and quantity is suitable for the horse and rider (this is why horse riding school horses are the perfect start)

2. Equipment

  • Have the right equipment to catch with a halter and lead, tie with the correct knot and control the horse for a happy and successful relationship between horse and rider 
  • Grooming and First Aid gear required
  • Safe and good fitting saddle cloth, saddle and bridle
  • Protective riding gear such as helmet, boots, long pants and when starting maybe a safety vest
  • For beginner riding gear check out the essentials here: https://horseridinghub.com/beginnersridergearpack/ 

3. Horse Safety

  • Handle your horse safely and confidently from the ground up
  • Choose the best environment for horse and rider to have a positive experience 
  • Checking the girth and adjusting stirrups
  • Getting on and off carefully
  • Being able to hold the reins correctly
  • Good control, knowing how to move, turn and stop
  • How to handle things if something goes wrong

4. Horse Riding Skills

  • Ground and Riding exercises to improve strength and balance required for riding
  • Receive guidance from a highly experienced horse person
  • Be prepared to learn how to communicate with a horse for a good ride
  • Patience and practice is very important as you generally blame yourself but not your horse for the riding experience 
  • Straight line, movements and circles with body language, voice commands, hand and leg signals (aids) 
  • Learn to change pace and transition between walk, sit trot, rise trot, canter and gallop 
  • Understand and ride with correct trot and canter diagonals
  • Learn different equine disciplines and experience an endless learning pathway

5. Get Educated

6. Owning A Horse

  • Have the knowledge of different horse ages and breeds before even thinking about owning a horse
  • Know how to care for a horse (paddocks, stables, feeding, managing behaviours, health issues that can occur, first aid kit) 
  • Understand good horsemanship and how to train a horse to keep a well behaved horse on the ground and that is enjoyable to ride.
  • A horse that is suitable and trained for your equine discipline
  • Make sure you have gone through a valuable checklist of all the basics you need to know before even thinking of buying a horse 
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7. Horse and Life Skills from a student


GOING FOR A HORSE RIDE AND HOW TO RIDE A HORSE

Saddle and Girth

A proper fitting saddle should sit level on the horses back. The saddle should not be pressing on the horse’s spine. 

To girth the horse, stand on the near side/left side. If the saddle is not in the right position, move the saddle until the girth is in the correct place just behind the front leg. 

Once the saddle is on the correct position, take hold of the strap under the top flap on the saddle, put it through the buckle on the girth and tighten it up enough just firm when the horse is tied. Check that each strap is tight enough after you take the horse for a walk before you get on. 

Never horse ride without confirming the girth is firm enough and checking that the stirrups are well fit, correct length and you can hold the reins correctly.   Stirrup length can be checked before getting on by measuring from the top stirrup bar to the base of the stirrup with your finger tips to your armpit.

Putting on the Bridle

After saddling the horse, you can put on the bridle. First, put on the reins over the horses head and then take off the halter. Do it from the left-hand side (near) with the horse to your right. Maintaining the same position, take the bridle to your right hand, lift it on the front of the face, and place the snaffle bit underneath on the horse’s mouth. 

If your horse is not opening the mouth, do not worry. Place one finger on the corner of the horse’s mouth where there are no teeth. The reflex will trigger the horse to open its mouth and lift the bridle headpiece over the ears. Make sure you have done correct adjustments, so as not to strain the horse ear or neck. 

At this point, you can close the throat latch (3 fingers space between throat and lash) then the noseband which should sit inside the cheek straps. 

Leave enough room to allow the horse to make movements. Use a flash strap to confirm that the horse won’t have its mouth open only if needed. Pay particular attention at the corner of the horse’s mouth. If you see too many wrinkles then bit may be too tight.

Now you are ready to go and can begin that ride!

Things to remember while learning how to ride a horse. 

Sit in the saddle with the feet in the stirrups. Sit in a level and balanced position, ensuring your body is not tilted forward or backward. 

You should be balanced with your legs slightly bent, your shoulder, hip and ankle in a straight line. If not, you might need to shorten or lengthen the leathers to get the correct leg position. 

If you are a beginner in horse riding, you might not have as much fun to start, but you will become an expert by constantly learning and practicing.

Practice ensures that you build and improve the strength and balance that is required for riding. You also get a chance to learn how to communicate with the horse better. A good relationship between you and the horse will certainly lead to a good ride. In other words, communicate with the horse when riding and understand why they react and behave the way they do. 

Moreover, maintain straight line, movements, and circles with body language, voice commands, hand and leg signals (aids). Learn to change pace and transition between walk, sitting the trot, rising to the trot and canter. Understand and ride with correct trot and canter diagonals.

You will need to learn how to stop the horse. When cueing for a stop as a beginner, you will need to close and squeeze your fingers backward.

Be in a firm upright position and put your feet slightly forward. When you squeeze the hand backward, the horse stops because of the backward pull on the reins. If the horse doesn’t respond to the cue, you might need to pull back until it stops.

Additionally, depending on the level of training you have, you can use your body, seat or legs to stop the horse. A one rein stop is also learnt to increase safety if movements get too fast and beginners have trouble communicating the stop or there are problems with the horse.

After you get the horse to stop, release carefully. Let the horse rest in the best environment when finished. 

Final Remarks: Keep learning!

Again, it might not be easy at first, but you will get better with good learning resources and training from a horse expert including practice. Go beyond the training you get from your trainer by also reading books, watching videos/TV programs and specialised horse events. This way you will learn more about horses and horse riding. Your journey is bound to fun! 

Start learning with Giddy Up Beginner Books and the Horse Riding Hub Education Pathway

Giddy Up Beginner Books Learning Resources 

‌The top beginner horse riding education path for a safer horse journey

‌* Written by an expert
* Tailored for new riders
For young horse lover enthusiasts across the world; providing the very basics needed to start in education that covers the 3 most important stages of a beginner horse journey.

‌* Book 1 Horse Lovers First Book – The Need To Know Basics
* Book 2 How To Ride A Horse – A Workbook
* Book 3 Ready For Your First Horse? Checklist Summaries

‌About the books and author Debbie Burgermeister

‌Debbie Burgermeister is a highly accomplished certified coach, horse trainer, riding performer, business consultant & author. With over 40 years horse experience, Debbie has multiple certifications including trainer & assessor, coaching, Equine Australia instructor, Horse riding school owner since 2006, State level competition rider, Olympics Games opening ceremony performer, and horse business consultant.
Deb’s sole mission is to help beginner riders reduce the risk of getting hurt by encouraging and promoting safe learning, starting out with the core fundamentals to support the future of sensible, confident, and capable horse handlers and riders.
Deb has an intense passion for what she offers, she is dedicated to utilising her privilege of horses to connect with people and work with her community to make a difference.


Hear about the Books from Deb your author


  • HORSE LOVERS FIRST BOOK 
    • The Basics You Need to Know About Horses
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  • HOW TO RIDE A HORSE
    • Riding Lessons for Beginners Workbook to guide you along your horse riding pathway with step by step modules when learning to ride
    • With a bonus development guide for parents.
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  • ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR FIRST HORSE? 
    • Essential cheat sheet summaries to prepare you in the very basics you need to know in Horse Care, Riding and Owning a Horse
    • An experts guide to preparing you when looking for that beginners horse 4 sale.
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  • GET ONE BOOK FREE WITH PURCHASE OF THE COLLECTION
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  • GET SERIOUSLY STARTED WITH THE RIDING EDUCATION PACK 
    • GO RIDING with confidence and set yourself up for success with access to valuable education resources, riding and gear vouchers plus lesson discounts
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Not quite ready to ride? Then dip your toe in the water with this free must read guide including the very basics you need to get started with horses. Know exactly what you should expect to learn with horse riding lessons and the most important safety tips

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