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Horseback Riding - Tips for Beginners

February 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 167

Horses are remarkably expressive animals, capable of indicating mood with a simple flick of the tail or other seemingly innocuous body language. Unlike people, horses are very direct in terms of their expressions and behaviors - this lack of obfuscation and subtlety is actually very beneficial when taken in the context of learning to ride a horse for the first time. While one does certainly not need to be an expert in all manner of equestrian behavior in order to ride or spend time with horses, having a basic knowledge of body language as this can be the difference between the beginning of a wonderful relationship and getting kicked and swearing off horses for good.

While all horses are different, there are some behaviors that are applicable to all horses regardless of individual circumstances having to do with usage, lifestyle, owner, etc. Horses, generally, are very friendly and well behaved - it is best for a novice or first time rider to regard them and treat and approach them as such. Novice riders can be well served to spend some time around horses observing behavior and watching how they interact with experienced riders as well as other horses before they attempt riding for the first time.

Understanding some basics is generally a good place for a novice to start:

Never approach directly in front of or stand behind a horse. Horses have very limited range of sight due to the location of their eyes on the sides of their head; for this reason they can startle easily and it is not smart to approach them in any way in which they can hear but not see you coming.If the horse's ears are pinned back, this is a clear indication they are agitated for one reason or another - regardless of the rest of their body language. Something is likely causing concern or discomfort and a novice should not be attempting to mount or ride until someone more qualified can assess the situation first.Stamping or stomping, kicking, and pawing can all indicate agitation or discomfort or simple boredom. A novice should always err on the side of caution and consult an experienced rider in the face of visible behavioral tics before attempting to mount or ride. If you've mounted the horse and these behaviors are still evident it is likely an indication that the saddle or tack are not adjusted properly and may be causing mild discomfort. Take care of this before proceeding.Horses can get startled rather easily by loud noises or sudden movements. Horses take their cues from the rider: If your horse gets spooked, remain calm - your horse will calm down quickly if you remain poised and in control of the situation. Recognizing body language will assist you in keeping calm even when the horse momentarily is not.When you are ready to mount, approach and do so from the left side of the horse - don't hold the saddle as you mount as it will likely slide right off. Push up and swing your leg over the horse in one motion and be mindful not to kick the horse in the flank whilst doing so.A nice slow walk is a safe way for the rider and the horse to get accustomed to each other in a safe manner. When you want the horse to stop, pull back on the reins in a gentle but firm manner; adjust your center of gravity so your weight shifts toward your heels. When the horse obeys and stops, give it a pat of recognition and reward for doing so (*remember, you are establishing a trusting relationship).

Learning to ride a horse is not difficult, but it does require patience and a willingness to learn on behalf of the rider. If your first time riding is from formal lessons, ask if it is possible to spend some time with the horse before your first lesson for the purpose of simple observation. Becoming accustomed to behavior and building general familiarity will go a long ways toward making your first time on horseback a pleasant and rewarding experience.

Kerrie Tischer is the owner of Livery Stable. If you're in the market to sell or buy a horse, this is the place to start. They offer horses for sale as well as detailed information on riding, selecting a good horse and much more. Visit online for more information.

Source: EzineArticles
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