When you get a horse for the first time, learning to ride can be a challenge. Training your horse to accept you as his friend and rider takes instruction, practice and patience. With dedicated effort, you can create a special bond and riding relationship with your new horse.
Like people, horses have different personalities. Some are calm, well-mannered and receptive to commands, while others are free-spirited and harder to train and ride. Horses are highly intelligent animals, but they are shy by nature and often spook easily. When working with your new horse, it’s important to stay calm and well-mannered and don’t get overly aggressive.
Approaching Your Horse
A horse may feel shy and apprehensive when approached by someone who is unfamiliar. Until your horse gets used to seeing you, try walking in an arc toward the horse rather than in a straight line to make your presence known. Make sure the horse is facing in your direction and avoid direct eye contact. When you get close to your horse, extend the back of your hand for the horse to smell, then gently pet him to help build a personal bond.
Mounting Your Horse
Typically, horses are trained to accept riders mounting on the left side, so don’t try to mount your horse on the right side. If your horse is moving, don’t force him to stand still. You can allow him to move a little, but control his direction and find a balance point to mount the horse. When mounting your horse, distribute your weight evenly by pushing down on the horse’s right shoulder, so your full weight isn’t on his left side.
Proper Riding Gear
Before you go riding, make sure you have on proper riding gear for maximum comfort and safety. You can wear good, comfortable western jeans or breeches that fit your body snugly. Breeches, usually made from cotton and spandex, keep you from sliding around on a smooth leather saddle. They’re fitted at the bottom and come in all sizes including plus size riding breeches. Cowboy boots or paddock boots with a one inch heel are best for stirrup control, but don’t forget comfortable wicking socks. To avoid head injuries in case of an accident, purchase a certified and approved horseback riding helmet. They are affordable, lightweight and available in a variety of styles to suit every type of rider.