Whether you just want to gallop on trails or you've got your sights set on Olympic equestrian glory, you must start at the beginning, earning the respect of these beautiful but powerful animals.
Like every sport, horseback riding requires a specific skill set that is best learned under the guidance of a trained professional.
Unlike many other sports, there are two active participants--the athlete and a half-ton animal. Each must learn to communicate with the other, responding to the other's feedback.
- Finding an instruction facility
- Different riders learn at different paces
If horseback riding lessons have peaked your interest, the first step is finding a facility. Browse our listings on Kudzu.com for a selection of riding instructors.
Also, visit the website of the United States Equestrian Federation. There you'll learn more about competitive horseback riding, and even find local competitions.
Once you've located a facility in your area, it's time to pay a visit. When you do, ask to meet both the horses and the instructors. Pay close attention to how the instructors interact with the horses and, just as important, how the horses respond to the instructors.
The instructor, not the horse, should be in control. Safety should be the number one priority at any facility. A simple chemistry check between you, the instructor and your instincts will tell you if a particular facility is right for you.
Learning to ride horse can take a lifetime of training. Because the chemistry between rider and horse is so important, different riders learn at different paces. Here are some of the things you can expect to learn in beginning classes.
Before you learn how to ride, you must learn how to care for your horse. First you'll learn how to approach, brush, saddle and bridle a horse. Next you'll learn to saddle and lead your horse from the stable, and finally how to mount and dismount.
From there, it's off to the ring to learn basic commands while you and your horse become acquainted with one another. Riding lessons are quite affordable too. You should expect to pay approximately $100 per month for four once-a-week lessons. A good facility will be able to offer you a chance to gain knowledge of all aspects of the sport.
The bond between horse and human is often a special one, and learning to ride is an experience to be cherished for a lifetime. And who knows, one day you may just end up riding off into the sunset.