Do You Think You Can Ride a Horse?
One of the greatest thrills for any horse lover who knows his horse facts is the special first time when he slips his foot in the stirrup and mounts a horse, who’s ready to take off into the sunset. But is riding a horse a skill that must be acquired or can anyone, large or small, climb in the saddle and gallop down the road?
The biggest obstacle is his fear of getting on the back of such a powerful animal. It takes a lot of faith to believe that a little piece of metal in the horse’s mouth will control that 1200-pound equine. Also, what’s holding that heavy saddle on the back of the horse? What? A little piece of cottony, leathery material with some leather straps? Sure, it does take much faith to believe the tack will stay intact while you stay on!
Most beginning riders make several mistakes. You can’t approach a horse with your mouth full of giggles and grins or hoots and hollers. It’s a serious matter to win the trust of any horse. Horses have a special God-given sense that lets them know if you’re afraid of them. They also can sense your demeanor. A silly, goofy rider might get launched into cyber space without his computer or get thrown right into his neighbor’s kitchen garden.
The proper riding duds are very important. Jeans and boots are not just “flashy.” They are practical. The saddle and stirrups have rough spots of leather that can rub your legs in an uncomfortable way if your bare skin is against those parts. Also, steel-toed boots are a must. You’ll only know that after a horse steps on your foot once or twice. Zowie! Squoosh little toesies bigtime! And then, there’s the issue of wearing a hard hat. Falling off a horse can kill you if you crack your head off the road. Why not let the hard hat crack off the road instead of your skull.
So, how do you get to win that equid friend as a friend, who will be thrilled to take you on a nice nature walk through the woods?
Walk to the horse quietly and slowly from the front. Let him smell you and look you over real good. A small chunk of apple or a sugar cube is a sure way to win him over. Hold your hand perfectly flat and still, and let him nibble the tidbit off your palm. His nuzzle is warm and fuzzy, and slobbery, but, hey! If you’re a horse lover, you won’t mind at all. Next, pet the horse and talk to him, not necessarily with a western drawl. When you mount the horse, sit tall in the saddle with your knees slightly bent and your toes pointed slightly upward in the stirrups. Don’t squeeze your legs. If the horse is well-trained, he just might take off before you’re even seated in the saddle the correct way. And don’t pull on the reins. That’s a sure signal for your horse to either back or rear up, and you’ll find yourself on your behind on the ground in another unwelcomed surprise.
The best way to learn how to ride is to have someone hold onto your horse’s bridle and walk with you in a small corral. Once you learn to use the reins properly, you can try it on your own. By the way, there are two distinct ways of reining a horse, English and western, which, of course, accompanies the two distinct riding styles. (Those riding styles you can check online at any horse facts sites and study the differences in the two.) When you’ve mastered controlling your horse in the paddock, you can move on to the fenced-in pasture. Then you’ll soon be brave enough to try trotting. After hours of learning “Speed Number Two,” then you’ll be ready to try your hand at a controlled gallop with your horse. What an exciting moment it is to feel your horse charging across the field and the wind blowing in your face.
Now, this is not all going to happen in three hours. Three weeks to several months of lessons or steady work with your horse will finally produce a confident riding team with you holding the reins and your horse in full obedience to your command. And, once you learn to ride a horse, it’s the same as learning to ride a bike. You’ll never forget. When you become a skilled rider, any horse you mount will immediately know that you respect him and know how to ride him with confidence and pride. All he needs are your calm gestures and words of encouragement, and you’ll both enjoy the time you spend together on the dusty trail.
If you get your horse facts straight, you’ll be known as a horse lover who can really ride!
Visit Marsha and learn about her horse books and more good “horsie” stuff at her website: www.marshahubler.com