Horseback riding in a state park can be a ton of fun but it can also be a dangerous activity if you are not careful or if you do not know how to go horseback riding. Here is a simple guide to follow to learn how to ride a horse.
Step 1: Location
The first thing that you need to do is find a good riding stable. Some riding stables have an experienced riding instructor to help you. Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to find a state park that offers horseback riding and equestrian trails.
Step 2: Prepare Your Horse
Before you go horseback riding, it is important to groom your horse if it is dirty and to prevent your horse from feeling too warm. The next step is to tack your horse by putting on the saddle, the girth and then the bridle. You will have to know how to tie rope knots. An instructor will be there at your chosen location to help you with these steps, so don’t panic.
Step 3: Mount Your Horse
Always mount your horse on the left side. Hold the reins in your left hand and turn the stirrup (a pair of devices attached to each side of a horse’s saddle for the rider’s foot), towards you with your right hand. Put your left foot into the stirrup, hold the saddle and bounce gently on the stirrup. Then swing your right leg over the horse and sit down gently on the saddle.
Step 4: Find Your BalanceOnce you are on the horse, the instructor will lead you until you are comfortable to ride on your own. If you feel unbalanced, hold onto your horse’s mane until you are steady. You will feel a rocking motion as you ride and the seat should naturally move with the motion. Your arms need to move with the motion of your horse while keeping your elbows light. Keep your back straight and look forward. One-third of your boot should be in the stirrup, keeping your heels pointing down.
Step 5: Using Aids to Control Your HorseAids are considered to be your hands, legs and your seat. To make your horse move forward, squeeze your calves gently against the horse’s sides. If the horse doesn’t move, put more energy into it. Some horses also respond to clucks.
To make your horse halt, sit deep into the saddle and apply pressure with the reins. You can also say “whoa.”
To turn your horse, pull the left or right rein out to the side and apply pressure with your outside leg. If you don’t add pressure with your leg, your horse will not listen and it will continue moving forward.
Step 6: Trotting
If you are comfortable with the steps listed above, you can now learn how to trot with your horse! You have the option to either sit the trot or post the trot.
When you sit the trot, sit deep into the saddle and keep contact with your legs. Remember to keep your elbows relaxed. To post the trot, raise up in your stirrups every other step. Point your heel down and keep contact with the horse’s mouth. Make sure your hands stay still and don’t follow movements of the body because this is uncomfortable for the horse.
Horses trot diagonally, so when moving to the left, you should rise when your horse’s right shoulder is forward. When you are moving to the right, raise when your horse’s left shoulder is forward.
Step 7: Learn How to Canter
If you have become well experienced with horseback riding, you can now learn how to canter, which is a rocking motion. To canter, move your outside leg slightly back and squeeze. When you sit the canter, your seat will roll with the canter while you remain in the position you are riding. Remember not to tense up and keep a steady contact with the horse’s mouth. You can also canter while in “half-seat.” To sit half-seat, incline your shoulders and rotate your pelvis forward.
Remember to be cautious and always wear protective gear when you go horseback riding!
- Elbow/Knee Pads
- Long Pants
For your safety, check out our Pocket Ranger® gear store for these items and much more.