Horseback riding is a fun activity as well as being good exercise for your body and mind. Whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I go riding, and always feel better so much better. It always makes me forget my problems, just for a while. When I come back to them with a cooler head I’m usually much better able to manage them.
But part of that process is being in good control, and having a good ride. On the odd occasion, I’ll mess something up with my riding and end up feeling worse. I really don’t want that happening to you too! So, in this blog post, I will share some useful horseback riding techniques you should follow to avoid getting frustrated.
Remember: it’s not like what you see in movies!
Horse riding is not what you see in movies – nobody just grabs a horse and rides. You need proper techniques to ride a horse otherwise you will get yourself hurt. It is not as easy as it seems and the right equipment is critical.
Safety and dress code
The first thing that I always recommend is that you should wear a horse riding helmet. Safety is the most important thing while riding such a huge animal. If you’re in the market for a good helmet, I’ve got a review of three of my favourites you should check out.
Wear comfortable boots that fit the stirrup with a little heel of about one inch to prevent your feet from slipping.
Wear jodhpurs or any thick and tight fitting pants you have. Jeans should be alright, especially if you’re riding Western, but they shouldn’t be too tight – make sure you can do a lunge in them, otherwise you won’t be able to mount properly!
Wear a comfortable shirt – I usually try to wear natural fibres that have moisture wicking (also known as capillary action) properties. The most important thing is that your shirt isn’t too long – it shouldn’t come under your hip.
You can also wear gloves if you like, particularly if you have sensitive hands – they’ll stop the reins from rubbing too much.
If you want a little more detail on your riding outfit, check out my post here!
Approaching a horse
One of the most useful horseback riding techniques is to build a friendly relationship with your horse. Most people wonder why certain horses can be friendly for one person and then aggressive for another person. The reason behind this is that most horses don’t like to be approached in a straight line.
Try to approach your horse in an arc or some other way. Don’t ever try to approach straight towards him or from the behind. A horse is a powerful and unpredictable animal. You might get yourself hurt if you are not careful.
Try to stand in front of him, but not straight ahead, a little distance away. Ask him for permission with a friendly smile or wave your hand. If the horse notices you, leaving what he was doing and looks at you, you are granted the permission. Go a bit closer and pet your horse gently or give him your hand to smell.
Mounting and correct alignment of the body
You can’t just jump over and sit on the saddle. There are proper techniques to mount a horse and sitting on the saddle. Before jumping on the saddle, make sure everything from the saddle to bridle is correctly tied. Ask your trainer which side to mount your horse.
If you are a beginner, then I would recommend that you should ask your trainer to hold the horse while you are mounting. Mount the horse gently. Don’t kick his body or else he will move forward, considering it a command to move.
While sitting still on the saddle, make sure your whole body is in a straight line. Your ear, shoulder, hip, and heels should be in a straight line. Your shoulders and back should be straight. Hold your hands approximately 6 inches above and in front of the saddle.
Your feet should be in the stirrups in such a way that your toes should face upward. Don’t lean your lower leg too far forward or backward. Try keep balance between these two extreme positions.
Press your feet inside a little on the sides of the horse to make him move. If your horse doesn’t understand your command, gently kick him on the side to start moving.
To move him towards the right, pull the reins towards right a little and to move him towards the left, do the same on the left.
Don’t do it too quickly or with too much pressure, or you could hurt the mouth of your horse.
To stop the horse, gently pull the reigns backward with a call. If your horse is moving very fast or has become uncontrollable and you want to stop it then pulling both the reins will not work. It will hurt the horse if you do it with too much pressure and he will become more aggressive.
Try using only one rein. When you pull only one rein, you bend the neck of your horse and he won’t be able to keep running.
I hope you’ve learned a little more about riding today!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed these useful horseback riding techniques. Please comment below if you have any questions or comments!
Happy horseback riding!