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Contents

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Once Upon a Time… Ah, To Be Young Again! Seriously. Why Should I Ride? More about the Physical Benefits of Horseback Riding The Horse Does All The Work; Right?

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Get Thee To a Gym! Body… And Brain! Itʼs Normal to be Nervous Big Beasts and Plenty of Power The Almighty Dollar Body, Mind & Spirit - Putting It All Together Home on the Range A Family That Rides Together… Happy Trails!

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Which Style are You? Head to Toe - The Right Gear Finding an Instructor Spot Check Play Safe

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The First Lesson Where Do I Go From Here?

Published and owned by: Avalon Reign Training Centre - Australia Copyright Avalon Reign Training Centre 2007 Written by: Northern Lights Express All rights reserverd. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted in any form or by means of electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the copyright owner. Tel: 61 3 5773 4236 E: avalonreign@virtual.net.au

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… There was a princess swept away by a knight on a glorious charger, or perhaps a cowboy with pistols and Indians. Our love of horses begins early in childhood, with many bedtime stories including horses, unicorns, and winged fantastical creatures. We are raised on classic tales of My Friend Flicka and Black Beauty, we have seen movies of horses such as The Black Stallion and Seabiscuit, and weʼve watched television shows like Bonanza. Horses are so fully ingrained into our society that they have inspired countless works of art, stories, poems, and songs. Horses have a magic all their own. During childhood, horses might have been magical beasts to us. Little girls dream of having a pony of their own and boys picture themselves as knights charging into battle or as cowboys riding the range. Our horses could fly, talk, and do anything their heroic rider asked of them. We imagined horses that would be our closest, trusted friend. With that horse, weʼd certainly be the happiest kid anywhere on Earth. Some of us begged our parents for a pony. Weʼd eat all our vegetables, take out the garbage, not to mention feed and take care of that brand new horse. As children age into adults, life changes us. A challenge that may have been met with confidence and enthusiasm in oneʼs younger years might, as an adult, be met with doubt and a little bit of fear. The exuberance of youth gives way to the carefully thought-out logic and caution of adulthood. Adults consider getting into riding for reasons far different than a child would. Ideally, an adult will carefully weigh all the options (keep in mind that there are some adults who are still impulsive and will jump into anything) and take a good, hard look at whether or not this is something to devote free time and money to, or if it is merely a passing fancy. Page 4


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Time and experience change our innocent perception of the world and most adults see horses very differently than children do. To our older eye and mind, horses are large animals with a mind of their own with potential risks associated in handling and riding them. This summary of a horse is somewhat true, to be honest. Adults realize that a horse is not all about childhood dreams of galloping beauty with a flowing mane and freedom. However, many adults tend to blow the risks revolving around the equestrian world out of proportion and stop themselves from trying out the sport of horseback riding for fear of injury. Humans have a tendency of seeing problems as bigger than they are, and then talk themselves out of trying something new or being so hesitant, they never take that first step. The reality is that the risk of injury riding horses is no greater than downhill skiing or some other sports, and plenty of people get into those activities! There are also ways to stay safe around horses and while riding horses that will further minimize dangers associated with the sport. A careful rider is a wise one. Another common perception about horseback riding is that novices in the sport must be children or that once you are of a certain age you cannot or should not take up riding. Many adults hold themselves back from the wonderful experience of horseback riding simply because they think they始re too old to get into the saddle. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there is no age to try new things. One of the goals of life is to experience as much of life and Page 6


the world around us as possible, and there is rarely a valid reason for not learning to ride. Horseback riding is just waiting for you to enjoy.

Time and experience change our innocent perception of the world and most adults see horses very differently than children do. This guide is to help adults decide if learning horseback riding is the right choice (and perhaps to encourage adults to try riding a horse once in their life) by covering many of the questions and concerns adults often consider. The guide will take an indepth look at the mental requirements, physical fitness, and some financial responsibilities associated with horseback riding. The guide also outlines proper equipment, finding a good instructor, and expectations for the first lesson. Other areas in this guide are family situations and riding with your children.

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Convincing an adult to ride is more than saying a person should ride simply because the opportunity is there. An adult often needs valid reasons to try horseback riding, and these reasons are many and here are just a few: 1. The fulfillment of childhood dreams 2. A different and interesting way to exercise 3. Parental participation in a child始s activities 4. The desire for a new hobby 5. Overcoming a fear 6. Facing a new challenge 7. Testing personal boundaries 8. Social interaction 9. Financial access 10. Greater accessibility to the sport 11. Animal companionship 12. Personal pleasure 13. Building self-confidence 14. Status

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1. The fulfillment of childhood dreams Many adults take up riding because they have always wanted to but never had the chance when they were younger. The fulfillment of dreams is a very important part of our human psyche. Societyʼs change of mind about what is permissible to undertake as an activity as we age has opened up the possibility of adults learning to ride horses. 2. A different and interesting way to exercise Many older people are involved in sports and activities well into their 60s or more, and riding is one of those sports. There are clear physical benefits from riding horses that can be noticed in a relatively short period. In addition, many adults arenʼt interested in other available forms of exercise and look for new ways to stay in shape and keep fit. 3. Parental participation in a child’s activities Parents tend to seek out activities for their children to participate in they feel are valuable and provide skills the child will appreciate later in life. Being a part of those extra-curricular activities is important to many parents, and some get in the saddle to share quality time with their children while learning something new together.

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4. The desire for a new hobby Most individuals have some sort of hobby to occupy their spare time, but our interests change over the years. Other adults have no hobby at all and want to have some activity to participate in that they can call their own. Adults will often seek out new hobbies and horseback riding is one that never becomes stale and provides many hours of amusement.

to try a bit of everything and once they始ve tested the waters of other activities, they may turn to horseback riding as a new and fun challenge. Adults avid in extreme sports tend to want to learn horseback riding and end up falling in love with the sport.

7. Testing personal boundaries Many adults enjoy testing themselves and their personal limitations to see how far they can push their own 5. Overcoming a fear bodies and minds. Some adults learn Unfortunately, many adults tried to ride horses to fulfill this need, their luck at riding a horse when taking pleasure in advancing through they were young and suffered a bad levels of skills to maneuvers that fright. This scare may have happened are more difficult. As there really is because of a lack of no limit on what one Many adults are looking proper instruction, can do in equestrian a poor pairing for a little excitement or a activities and the of horse with an challenge that makes them opportunities for feel young. inexperienced rider, challenges are plenty, improper safety, or adults seeking to test a multitude of other reasons. Many their personal boundaries may want to adults live with a fear of horses or take up horseback riding. riding for most of their lives, but some decide to face the fear and overcome it. Getting back in the saddle in a safe, secure environment with a trained instructor and a calm, gentle horse can be very beneficial to surmounting fear issues. 6. Facing a new challenge Many adults are looking for a little excitement or a challenge that makes them feel young. Some adults want Page 10


8. Social interaction Some adults choose riding for the social aspect of interacting and networking with other adults in their own age range. As children grow and leave the family nest, adults may find themselves feeling lonely or lacking interaction with other people. The equestrian world offers the possibility of learning a new skill while providing a chance to meet other people of like mind, those that share the same passion for riding and horses. 9. Financial access Horseback riding can be an expensive venture and families with financial obligations may not have the money to take weekly lessons or invest in riding equipment. Baby boomers with plenty of disposable income and retirement underway can now afford to get into the world of horses and learn to ride. Adults take riding lessons and attend horse shows because of a certain amount of financial freedom. 10. Greater accessibility to the sport So many adults today become involved in horseback riding because of the greater accessibility in equestrian sports and events. The equestrian world has drastically changed to be more available to a wider range of social classes. With so many people looking for new and exciting recreational activities, Page 11


equestrianism is finding a niche with a wide range of age groups. Now that riding has moved away from a sport that had once belonged only to the elite, more and more people in the mainstream are finding their place among the ranks of the equestrian set. 11. Animal companionship Long have people enjoyed the company of animals and interaction with different types of animals. There are proven mental and physical benefits to animal companionship, and the curious, gregarious nature of a horse brings many adults pleasure. Horses tend to enjoy human contact and are quite personable creatures. People allergic to cats and dogs, restricted by available space to keep a pet, or those not willing to invest time in pet care can find learning horseback riding a nice compromise.

There are proven mental and physical benefits to animal companionship, and the curious, gregarious nature of a horse brings many adults pleasure

13. Building self-confidence Horseback riding is a great confidence booster. In fact, the need of a novice rider to believe in himself or herself is very important when learning to ride. Each new skill to learn or each challenge faced while learning to ride takes a good dose of determination, motivation, and faith in one始s own abilities. The result of accomplishing a task while mounted provides an excellent amount of exhilaration and self-confidence to the novice rider. Soon, adults realize they can do anything if they put their mind to it 12. Personal pleasure Let始s face it; riding is fun. There and work hard. are hours of enjoyment to be had learning to ride and being involved 14. Status with horses. The social interaction One example of this might be the at a stable or facility is plentiful and person who uses riding horses as a smiling comes easy in the equestrian status symbol. For centuries, horses world. Accomplishment and personal have been associated with the upper advancement figures highly, as does class, the same as owning a Ferrari or improving our physical fitness and Rolls Royce. Maybe by being a part mental acuity. Riding horses is also of the equestrian social circles, this relaxing and leaves adults with a good person can capture some of the glory of the rich and famous. overall feeling.

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One major component in horseback riding is the motion of your body in the saddle of the horse. This movement is very similar to the movement that is already present in the human pelvis. The motion of the exercise strengthens the pelvic area of the body.

type of joint and muscle reinforcement comes naturally when learning to ride and takes very little conscious effort. Our bodies, regardless of age, adapt to new motions quite well and make adjustments accordingly without us having to think about it.

The connection of motion and Horseback riding specifically works movement from the horse始s gait to the on balance and posture. The activity human pelvic area helps to achieve of riding requires good posture from better balance through practice and all potential riders, so the basic goal repetition of this simple motion. of becoming a good rider leads you to Rocking the pelvis as an exercise also work extra hard on those aspects. If a helps riders to stay rider lacks good Our bodies, regardless of fluid and flexible in balance and proper age, adapt to new motions the saddle. posture, the work quite well and make begins with the first The movement of adjustments accordingly ride and does not end the horse also creates without us having to think until the qualities of good muscle tone balance and posture are about it. and flexibility. The achieved. back, buttocks, and legs benefit most from sitting on the horse, but various The simple act of sitting in the saddle groups of muscles benefit from on a horse can, for an older person, horseback riding. The ankles, knees, create a posture that strengthens the and hips adapt to cushion any impact muscles and joints around the pelvic from the motion on the horse. The area. This aspect of positioning is a muscles and joints near these areas of tremendously helpful tool in building the body become stronger, building a a solid foundation of balance as more reliable base for the human body people age. and creating a sturdy foundation. This

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Riding is an activity that requires the use of the entire body. Smaller muscles and joints, many that the rider might not have been aware of, become stronger and tougher because of horseback riding. Poor muscle tone can be replaced quickly thanks to our bodyĘźs marvelous ability to adapt to new situations. Horseback riding can work as a sort of “trial by fireâ€? and expose the body to new motions that drastically improve the smaller muscles and joint flexibility in other areas.

As with learning any new skill or activity, the benefits cannot be rushed. While the body will adapt, give it time to do so. The act of sitting in the saddle may seem, at first, to be very uncomfortable but given time, sitting in the saddle will become second nature. The point is to remember to approach horseback riding with a positive attitude and to ride within the limits of your age and physical condition. Your attitude will make all the difference in the world, both on the horse and off.

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A common misconception that most prospective riders have is that riding is merely sitting on a horse while the horse does all the work. Riders are athletes.

Horseback riding does take a certain amount of physical fitness. Good posture and balance are required, and riding also requires a great deal of flexibility. Sitting in the saddle requires the ability to be able to There are many physical aspects hold your legs in one position for an to riding, most of them beneficial. extended amount of time, so some In fact, therapeutic riding helps strength and stamina is involved. physically develop some people with Muscle tone is important, so novice certain handicaps. riders can expect some A very positive thing The benefits can soreness of muscles about horseback riding is be tremendous to and joints, especially that while physical fitness in the legs. people of all ages, but with the benefits is important and required, come some consid- you do not need to be a A very positive thing very active person to learn erations to take about horseback riding into account. Adult is that while physical bodies are more prone to injury as fitness is important and required, age slows down our reaction times you do not need to be a very active and our bodies become less flexible person to learn. Posture, balance, and frailer. and flexibility start to improve the moment you are in the saddle, and This only means that the adult rider the more you ride and work on these should pay more attention to safety physical aspects, the better you will and ride within the limits of their improve these areas. However, if body始s abilities. you are a heavy person, use common sense before getting on a horse that Physical strength is necessary for must carry your weight. maintaining the position in the saddle. This physical strength comes from the A common physical reaction is for core of the body, and must be present the body to stiffen and protect itself at all times during the ride in order to against jarring. Stiffening the body maintain stability in the saddle. is one of the worst things to do, as Page 16


it makes a bouncy, hard ride sure to cause soreness and pain. One of the greatest physical benefits of learning to ride is learning how to relax your body and muscles, applying strength in the proper places. Loose and limber muscles can prevent many injuries, such as back injuries. As such, people with “bad” backs should not avoid riding, as they may find the relaxation coupled with the exercise provides stronger back muscles. While riding can be physically challenging and a real work out, it can also be physically gratifying. The exercise benefits of riding are improved muscular tone, improved balance, and improved general flexibility. As an exercise regimen, horseback riding can help bring a certain level of physical fitness to adults that may otherwise have overlooked some of the muscles of the body when carrying out other types of exercise.

Also, the release of hormones in any form of physical activity is beneficial to our mental state of health. The exercise involved in horseback riding does release of a good does of “feelgood” hormones that can help ward off the “blues,” seasonal affectation disorder, and depression. Riding may be a great way to stay in shape, but you donʼt want to surpass the bodyʼs physical limits either. If you are unsure whether you should be getting into this particular sport or not, consult with a medical professional and perhaps have a physical evaluation with equestrianism in mind in order to determine the exact areas of the body that might pose some concerns. Ask your doctor about equestrian activities and have him evaluate anything that he or she might see as problematic or any situations that could prevent you from getting the most out of your horseback riding experience.

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Many people that ride for the first for some time on your horse, you will time feel aches and pains in places not need to do as much additional work on their bodies that they did not even as those that aim to take large crossknow could have aches and pains. country trips on horseback or compete Muscle soreness is among one of the in jumping. Your own personal goals most common side effects of riding will help you physically and mentally and it can keep people from trying with your outlook towards horseback to “get back on the horse�. In order riding as an adult. to minimize initial A good program that soreness, you might Low-impact exercises involves aerobic and have to work up to can help you begin weight training activities to get into reasonable riding. can maintain or increase riding shape. Walking Consider easing your stamina and strength. is a good way to get in to riding as an started and it remains activity and training for it much as a a favorite among many riders. runner would for a marathon. As with Swimming is also a fantastic choice any sport, additional general exercise and training is important if you intend to spend any time riding at an older age (or any age, for that matter). A good program that involves aerobic and weight training activities can maintain or increase your stamina and strength. When you go into the gym or talk to a personal trainer, use the exercises that are going to help with your riding. Before you start out on an exercise regime, it is important to keep your goals in perspective. If you simply want to be able to trot around the ring Page 18


for improving your all-around fitness level. This is a great way to stretch your range of motion. Along with walking and swimming, a variety of stretches and toning exercises are helpful and you might want to consider yoga. Stretching the muscles prevents any rips or tears and will increase your flexibility.

can help improve the overall sensation of riding and can soften the impact from the motion in the saddle.

The lower body stretch is one of the most important exercises for equestrianism-related activities. The lower body withstands the worst of the impact from horseback riding. As older bodies become more delicate and fragile, taking care of the lower body becomes more essential.

Adults who have been riding a long time on a bi-weekly basis can tell you that even skipping one ride alone can set them back a bit.

A last note: If you do take up horseback riding on a regular basis, you might want to consider having an alternative training program for those days when you aren始t in the saddle.

A simple program of exercise can save a lot of the aches and pains and can greatly improve the entire riding experience for a person of older age. Most of the simple lower-body stretches are ideal for older riders. Stretching the hip or gluteus by lying on the ground and pulling your legs, one at a time, towards you is a great place to start. Hamstring stretches, inner thigh stretches, lunges, calf stretches, and even piriformis (a muscle that rotates the thigh) stretches are all important to the overall fitness of the rider. Stretching out these muscle groups

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Most of the issues revolving around whether adults should learn to horseback ride tend to be mental. While there is a certain degree of physical fitness needed in order to foster a good rider, the reality behind why a majority of older people do not think to get into horseback riding lies somewhere in the mentality. For years, riding was thought of as a hobby for younger people to learn. With changing social and economic factors, however, riding is quickly becoming something for people of all So what are some of the mental ages. aspects of horseback riding? They are numerous and vast, but here is Today, riding is more affordable what you can expect from horseback for the common person than it was riding, psychologically speaking: decades ago and many of the issues that were associated with horseback A human-animal bond riding are becoming obsolete. The 1. Improved focus, attention, and equation is now based around reasons reasoning skills to not ride instead of reasons to ride. 2. Sharper wits and quick thinking People are learning to ride more than ever, especially older people, and the enjoyment of the activity is spanning generational gaps around the world. The reasons for learning horseback riding vary between different adult age groups. Many adults are finding the calming influence of a horse to be as good a reason as any. Page 20

3. Increased patience and self-control 4. Learning to deal with frustration or disappointment 5. Persistence 6. Self-confidence 7. Social interaction 8. New skills 9. New methods of relaxation 10. Getting in touch with personal emotions 11. Tranquility


1. Human-animal bond 2. Improved focus, attention, and Horses are like people in some reasoning skills respects. Each horse has its own Riding requires a great deal of personality and quirks. Riders and attention and focus, as a horse can their horses form a deep bond working at times be unpredictable and quick together; they learn to communicate thinking is a necessity. Reasoning with one another. Some people and skills and memory are also crucial. some horses will The rider must not get along, while With changing social and remember how the others seem to work economic factors, riding is horse reacts and be magic together. quickly becoming something able to compensate Experienced riders for the horse始s for people of all ages. soametimes say actions repeatedly. there is one horse for each rider and Riding may come easily to some, but one rider for each horse. Getting others might struggle with learning how to to know the horse始s individual anticipate what the horse will do. personality quirks helps predict its actions and thoughts immensely. 3. Sharper wits and quick thinking You are eventually going to learn how to think like a horse and predict the possible ideas your horse might come up with before the horse even thinks of having the ideas. In that sense, horseback riding sharpens your wits. Horseback riders must stay focused on the task at hand as well as planning ahead to spot potential trouble before they始re in it. Horseback riding teaches people to think even further ahead; riders need to know the solutions to apply to correct any potential situation before it occurs. Expect the unexpected. Horses may always surprise a rider, but if the rider is prepared to handle surprise, the situation can quickly be resolved. Page 21


4. Increased patience and self-control People that are not patient, calm, or willing to learn will miss certain aspects of riding and they may end up endangering themselves or others. Not only is a good attitude important between horse and rider, but between you and other riders as well. A rider is a special person, to be quite honest. Horseback riding is not something that everyone can do. Patience, for starters, is a quality required of a horseback rider because it is the most needed element of riding. Horses can be stubborn animals, like people, and often take a lot of coaxing and coercion to get them to where you You must be prepared to deal with want them to go or do what you want frustration when the horse does not do what you始d like it to or when them to do. your own level of knowledge hinders efforts. Losing your cool on or around a horse can seriously put the brakes on your progress with the horse as far as communication and trust go. Rememer, if your horse does not do what you asked of it, you either asked the wrong question or asked the question wrong. People learn patience and learn to calm themselves when they are stressed through riding. It takes a lot of patience to deal with a horse some days, just as it takes an effort to deal with a cranky toddler or a disgruntled employee. Page 22


6. Persistence Some people have the tendency to think they are failures when something goes wrong or they cannot achieve their immediate desired goal. The persistence and “try, try again” methods involved in horseback riding teaches adults they are not failures but that setbacks happen to everyone. Those who keep their goal in sight and continue to persevere will accomplish 5. Learning to deal with frustration the desired result, an important life or disappointment lesson. It may take a lot of will power to want to get back on the horse after a disastrous experience, and many people are reduced to tears because of bad day of horseback riding. Working with the horse will teach you how to cope effectively with the situations you deal with on a daily basis. You might find that you can think faster and cope with more on the fly than you used to. The ability to stay calm during a rough riding session can be as useful when youʼre dealing with all of lifeʼs little upsets too.

The old adage of getting back up on the horse after a fall is true. Persistence is an important learned value that comes from horseback riding. The notion of falling off a horse and getting back on leads to a certain attitude towards life that can present some interesting new outlooks. Many horseback riders find that they are better equipped to deal with obstacles and work out the solutions rather than giving up or quitting when things get tough. When viewed in that light, you could say that horseback riding is a way of life rather than just a hobby. Page 23


7. Self-confidence Horseback riding stresses the need to believe in oneself and have confidence in our own abilities and strengths. Someone who tends to think they are a failure will slowly learn that they are anything but as they learn horseback riding. Adult riders often feel disappointed when they have difficulty to accomplish a certain task, though many others find the challenge of getting the horse to do what they始ve asked of it fulfilling. A common side effect to riding horses and knowing that you始re making progress is a burst of confidence. The more you ride, the better you will feel about yourself and your abilities and the more your confidence will grow. Of course, this will spill over into your relationships with others.

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8. Social interaction As people learn to ride together, they find that they can share many common experiences. Social interaction figures highly in learning to ride horses and the benefits are twofold. The new rider makes friends and has a network of people that share a common interest. In addition, each rider begins to see that he or she is not the only one going through a particular rough patch with any given exercise. Or, the newer riders might find themselves benefiting from the experience of the more advanced riders who have been riding longer and learn from them. 9. New skills As with anything new, horseback riding may seem complex at first. Many people may decide to quit the activity rather than stick it out. It is important to continue horseback


riding long enough to give yourself a chance to learn. As times passes, the skills you learn start to solidify. Each small lesson builds on the next and before you know it, you have “grouped knowledge”.

knowledge applies. Smaller skills, with practice, become one larger skill. Youʼre taking all those lessons and doing something fantastic that you might not have thought yourself capable of before.

Grouped knowledge is a set of small skills you learn that are transferred into one large skill, much like when you learn to drive a car. When learning to drive, you must learn each small task of careful acceleration, checking in mirrors, using your turn signals, turning a corner, and braking properly. With practice, each of these small skills become one skill – knowing how to drive a car – and your body carries out the small skills without conscious thought. With horseback riding, the same principle of grouped

10. New methods of relaxation Tempering your emotions is important to riding well and having a good bond with your horse. The basis for horseback riding comes from communication with the horse. Without it, you will be lost in the saddle and the horse will be leading you instead of the other way around. A horse can sense many of its riderʼs emotions and will notice all the small hints of hesitation, fear, control that isnʼt firm, lack of confidence, anger. Page 25


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The list goes on. Each of our emotions transmits through our body position, grip, voice, breathing, and various other tiny signals, and a horse is an excellent receptor to these feelings. Not only that, many horses will profit from these weaknesses, though mostly for amusement and rarely out of malice. While many riders experience nervousness or uncertainty in some situations, learning how to relax ourselves and portray an image of confidence to the horse is a valuable lesson.

12. Tranquility One of the reasons that adults learn to ride is because of the tranquility riding offers. Riding a horse carries a special connection between rider and horse that can only be fostered through communication, trust, and patience. Calmness is an attitude that many horses require in order to mind their rider. Having a calm attitude towards riding both on and off the horse is the best way to become the type of rider you want to be.

11. Getting in touch with personal emotions When learning to ride, coping with our emotions and feelings goes further. Riding tends to bring out emotion in many people and can be very therapeutic for that reason. Some adults have become accustomed to keeping emotion inside, and learning how to deal with emotions that do tend to come forth while horseback riding can be a mind-opening experience. Many adults going through difficult periods in their life in other areas find that horseback riding can be an excellent release and an activity that allows them to forget their stresses for a while. The break from difficult life situations can leave adults feeling renewed, refreshed, and often more clear-headed. Page 27


Obviously, there is a world of we can get hurt, and so many of us difference between the way adults donʼt want to take that risk. view life and the way a child does. Time and experience teaches people Adult expectations and perceptions caution around large animals, and most adults have a healthy are significantly Generally, horses are different from those gentle, curious creatures respect for a horseʼs size. The knowledge of younger people. that enjoy social interaction that animals can bite Adults need more with humans. or kick can make preparation than kids anyone nervous do when reaching that final decision to take up horseback riding. Most people about being in close proximity with realize they werenʼt as young as they something that has such large teeth or once were and are less likely to take powerful hooves. spontaneous chances. Generally, horses are gentle, curious Mental preparation becomes an creatures that enjoy social interaction important factor in approaching any with humans. Keep in mind though, new activity, especially new activities, that most horses donʼt kick humans as a certain mindset is necessary for intentionally and while horses that learning new skills. There are fears bite do exist, there are ways to deal involved that a child may not consider with the bad habit. Instructors and at all. Adults know we are only mortal, stable owners also donʼt want clients Page 28


injured, and they will show you the proper handling techniques for safety purposes. Adults often have one of two perceptions once they始re actually in the saddle. Some adults believe they must rigidly control the horse, tell it what to do through brute strength alone, and master it. Other adults have the fear that the horse has absolute control and will carry them off into the sunset without warning. Neither perception is correct. Too firm a hand tends to bully the horse and the animal will lose patience, and too light a hand gives the horse the impression that it can do what it want because you始re scared. Novice riders are paired with gentle, predictable horses that are also used to the often exaggerated (and unintentionally rough) requests of beginners. Instructors teach you how to ask the horse firmly but to have gentle hands and body motion that helps, not hinders. Riding is a dual effort involving both the horse and the rider. The rider learns how to have gentle control of the horse and allows the horse to do what it needs to answer the rider始s requests. Horseback riding is a partnership between human and animal, and the two work together to accomplish one goal. Page 29


It始s true that horses are big, powerful, and injury while horseback riding is possible. However the reality is that equestrian sports carry no more risk of injury than others adults are active in. Downhill skiing, a common activity, carries a higher risk of injury than riding horses but is still very popular with people of all ages. All sports and physical activities have their own associated chance of accidental injury. What is different with horseback riding is the perceived risk of danger and not the actual one.

riding in confidence. Children tend to be rather fearless, thinking they are immortal and capable of anything. As we age, though, we learn that the human body does have limitations and injury occurs. Adults approach horseback riding far more cautiously than children do because older people acknowledgment their own mortality and tend to perceive, often through ignorance, that all equestrian activities are dangerous. Accidents do happen and horseback riding is not without its risks. Falls are common, especially as a rider advances in skill and attempts Children quickly adapt to the large new goals, such as jumping. Rest size and power of horses and are soon assured that while the risk of injury

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is present in the world of equestrian ride presents minimal risks, especially sports, the statistics of accidental in the beginning, and the novice death while horseback riding is low. rider is often very aware of personal In addition, the death rate involved is regard to safety. Riding a dependable, relative to the type of Dependable horses in a safe predictable, and equestrian activity environment and learning the calm horse (usually undertaken by the activity under the instruction one advanced in rider. Dependable age and that has of an experienced trainer horses in a safe both seen it all and is the best way to approach environment and done it all) is ideal horseback riding. learning the activity for beginners and under the instruction of an experienced proper riding equipment adds extra trainer is the best way to approach security. An experienced instructor will horseback riding. see to proper horse and rider match, as well as all facets of safe riding and a Many adults fear injury for an even secure environment. more specific reason: They have children. Having children often As the rider advances in skill levels subconsciously makes a parent more (to jumping, for example), the risks responsible about becoming involved of injury increase, but by then, many in activities that present a risk. After riders have developed better balance all, if a parent is injured, he or she and the self-confidence to deal with cannot provide care for the children. situations when they occur. Injuries Parents often choose from horseback riding responsible activities that most often occur in the are low risk and don始t wrist, elbow, head, and involve danger. Because neck, and are usually of family obligations, related to a fall from a adults with children have horse. Knee, ankle, and a heightened sense of foot injuries tend to be responsibility towards more common in some of their own mortality and the implications the more adventurous riding activities, it has on the lives of others. Concern such as rodeos and jumping. Leg for injury is valid, as with any sport, injuries from the riskier equine sports but adults often blow the risks of are less common amongst the older injury involved in learning to ride out age group. of proportion. Learning to horseback

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Horseback riding can be an expensive hobby. Some of the costs involved include clothing and safety equipment. Helmets, footgear, and proper clothing are the basics. In addition, a saddle, bridle, and a slew of other pieces of equipment are all up for financial consideration. Get the best equipment that you can afford. You donʼt want to get something cheap, nor do you want However, everything costs money. to break your bank with top of the line How often have we heard “Money all the way across the board. doesnʼt grow on trees”? The idea of horseback riding for many adults is As far as lessons go, beginning riders a daunting financial burden. There is should always take lessons from a a large economic factor involved in reputable coach or instructor. Skilled riding; time isnʼt the only investment and experience instructors may cost youʼll make. more than averageSome adults believe that if they Lessons can add up level individuals donʼt own their own brushes to a hefty monthly may. In addition, a bill. While weekly or wear the latest fashions for novice rider should lessons may be riding clothing, they should not commit to a series financially possible participate in horseback riding. of weekly lessons. right now, sudden Beginners will also financial needs have a way of yanking have to consider the financial factors the rug out from under our feet when of progress. To progress properly and we least expect it. When money gets prevent stiff muscles or soreness, tight, hobbies and activities can often riding twice a week for at least half an take the back burner. hour is best. The social order of equine related sports has shifted from the rich or upper class of society to include a wider range of people from all lifestyles. This economic change in horseback riding certainly reflects what is to come in terms of equestrianism and points to a change in the way people approach the activity.

Take the time to figure out every possibility when it comes to the expenses involved so you donʼt have any surprises crop up further down the road. Page 32

The added perception that some styles of horseback riding require fancy equipment and owning your own horse can increase the financial


burden. Some adults believe that if they donĘźt own their own brushes or wear the latest fashions for riding clothing, they should not participate in horseback riding. These beliefs are seen most often in the perceptions of economic class and social standing associated with English-style riding versus Western-style riding. The glitz and glamour of horseback riding may be appealing to some people, but in the end, many of these expectations have to be boiled down to their simplest form. Horseback riding is about the rider and the horse, nothing else.

Making Money Learning to Ride? There are quite a few ways to generate money running a horse-based business to help support your new “habit�. Maybe you could do some work at the barn where you board your horse or give lessons if you are qualified to do so. Maybe you have a friend who has always had the same dream you had and you both could share the expense of owning a horse. Many riders progress enough in skill level to teach others or learn certain tasks such as braiding manes for showing horses in competition that can add a little extra income to support their horseback riding habit.

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Owning Your Own Horse If you find yourself really in tune with horseback riding and you are fully enjoying your lessons, you may decide you want to buy your own horse. This is a decision that needs to be made by the whole family, not just you. For the time being while you learn to horseback ride, it will likely be best to use the school or stable horses designated for your lessons.

Reading books on the subject and talking with your instructor will help too. Instructors can direct you to the best places to find a horse for sale and tell you what horse is best for you. You may want to ask your instructor along with you as you look for a horse, as their experience will come in handy when making a decision. Always trust the judgment of a good horse person and consider their opinions. Take advantage of the experience of those For those riders who decide to plunge around you, learn all you can and one themselves into the equestrian world and day you too will be passing on the buy their own horse, there are even more same information. expenses involved, such as the care and upkeep of the horse, equipment that needs to fit both horse and rider properly, and boarding or rental fees. The costs of owning a horse can pile up quickly, so make sure that you know what you are getting into in terms of ownership. The best horse to learn on if you are still a little bit unsure is an older horse, but you may not want to spend money on an older horse only to put it down in a few years. Consider how long you intend to ride and how often you intend to ride when looking at a possible horse purchase. Having enough space for the horse is another consideration and so are zoning laws in your area. Each horse should have a twelve foot by twelve foot, well-lit area to rest and live when they are not in the field or in the stables. Page 34


Time and Effort For an adult, the time involved in riding may make a venture into the equestrian world impossible. Busy schedules and employment obligations may leave very little time for traveling to a stable, preparing the horse, and receiving a lesson. You must be ready to devote at least an hour and a half at the stable itself, and then factor in the commute there and back.

things within the first few lessons, becoming adept and increasing your level of ability requires consistent training.

While taking a lesson from an instructor once a week can suffice, the recommendation for steady increase of ability and maintaining muscle tone is two lessons of at least a half an hour each per week. Consistent riding Learning to ride is also a slow progress. is key, and missing even one lesson While you will accomplish many can set you back in your endeavors. Page 35


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We have seen that when deciding to undertake horseback riding as an adult, there are a lot of facets to consider other than going to a stable and jumping up into the saddle. At its most base level, riding is about the connection between rider and horse. The relationships between horse, rider, and other riders are important too and, more specifically, to your individual experience on the horse and in the riding community. If you are not in the right frame of mind to be open enough to begin these relationships, you may find your riding experience to be less than satisfactory. Preparation of body, mind and spirit, and a healthy dose of knowledge are all bundled together to make your riding experience the best experience possible. Considering all angles, some people find that riding may not be for them after all. However, the other percentages of the population that do want to pursue riding have a wonderful experience to look forward to. Starting with a good, solid foundation is the key to any new venture and the same goes for horseback riding. Take the time to find the right horse, a stable and instructors that you feel comfortable with, and make sure you are physically, financially, and mentally prepared. Be as open-minded as possible and allow yourself the experience of facing new challenges. Be prepared to experience frustration or the occasional failure as well as the fulfilling burst of feelings surrounding accomplishment and victory. Live the rich and varied emotions you will experience while learning to horseback ride to their fullest.

Above all, let your spirit enjoy the smiles and laughter involved in a wonderful sport. All of these factors will go a long way to making your experience of horseback riding the best it can be. Page 37


You and your family will have to prepare for what you are getting into. Your family needs to be supportive and understand the level of involvement required for horseback riding. You will have plenty of days when class didnʼt go as well as you would have hoped. The best situation is a family that understands your bad days, supports you, and encourages you to stick with your new hobby.

amount of time will be dedicated to the learning process, so some of your home activities may have to stand a little shuffling. Riding can have a big impact on the rest of the family as everyone adjusts to a new schedule. Any new activity will have this effect, whether it is your sonʼs baseball games or your daughterʼs dance practice.

Your family forms the best support network you can have for your riding adventure. Along with this support, they need to understand the changes to your schedule. A significant

Never let anyone in your family make you feel guilty for having an activity that is yours alone. There is nothing wrong with mom or dad taking some riding lessons; donʼt cave in to pressure from anyone saying that youʼre neglecting your parental duties.

Where thereʼs a will, thereʼs a way.

Time for yourself and a hobby that makes you feel good is important to the whole family and its happy functioning. If the adult in charge isnʼt happy or resents not having enough fun in the face of household obligations, the whole family suffers from the dissatisfaction. Let your family know that personal activities are important for everyone in your family, not only for the younger members. Page 38


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At some point, you may want to If you want your child to take up horse consider riding with your family or riding and the child has not expressed your children. Before you do this, take a desire on his own, ask yourself why a careful look at your motives. Riding you want your child to ride. An answer with family members Begin horse riding because that you love horses can greatly affect the you want to. Encourage tells you that you relationship between should be the one in your children but respect each member for the saddle. When near their choice and preference the best, and in most horses, if youʼre the to ride or not. cases, the worst. On one petting noses and the surface, it appears a great idea, but sighing with envy, you are the one that the truth is most riders who have tried should be taking lessons. Begin horse to make riding a family event often riding because you want to. Encourage describe the event as being a poor your children but respect their choice experience. and preference to ride or not. Many adults become involved with horses through their childrenʼs participation in the sport of riding. A strong word of advice; ride for yourself. Parents who for whatever reason canʼt or wonʼt ride horses and choose instead to live vicariously through their children, often unconsciously. If it was your dream to ride and you never had the chance, then donʼt try to live that dream through your child by pushing him or her into the equestrian world. Parents often see horse riding as a good activity for children to take up, but they often tend to ignore signs that the child isnʼt enjoying himself. Page 40

Another caution involves taking lessons with your child and trying to make horse riding a family affair or a moment of quality time together. Children progress in ability at a much different pace than adults. Some instructors force a slower progression of skill on children and pay attention to safety and security above all while allowing adult riders to spread their wings. A child can quickly become resentful of enforced restrictions but project their feelings to the parent and not the instructor. Children may also feel jealous at the perceived ease of a parentʼs increase in ability or skills. Children might have the sense they must compete against the parent and


the pleasure of horse riding together their safety than you would for your is lost. own your own security. The result is a lack of attentiveness and a lack of In addition, since children and parents personal regard for safety. You must progress in horse riding differently, the ensure that, as a rider, you are capable split to work on separate techniques or of paying attention to your individual acquiring new skills is inevitable. You experience and to what your individual may be the one advancing quickly or horse is doing. Losing your focus your child might be the individual who because of family members present or needs training that is more advanced. other distractions may result in serious No matter who is the advanced rider, injuries or even death. two people riding together at different levels of instruction can hinder the The decision as to whether or not to efforts of the better rider and sometimes ride with your family is very personal. discourage the weaker student. Overly enthusiastic riders and families aiming for an experience of a lifetime Among the distractions of riding with often overlook these aspects of family family comes the concern for the other relationships and horseback riding. family members there with you. If you Take a moment to step back and really are a concerned parent riding with your view the situation for what it is and child, you may find yourself spending then make your choice as to whether to more of your time worrying about take lessons with your family or not. Page 41


Horseback riding is for people of all ages and body types. Learning horseback riding as a new skill for an adult can be a daunting task, but with a little bit of perseverance and some patience, anyone can learn to ride, regardless of age. The mental and physical capacities of a person are taken into consideration and a good instructor will know how to teach the required skills to anyone.

when they get older because they feel their bodies have broken down to the extent that learning to ride would be almost counter productive to their comfort and their health. While there are definitely issues with learning to ride as an older person, the physical considerations for an adult are often the same as with younger riders.

Getting started in horseback riding may take a lot of groundwork and While riding is available to all ages, research, but with the right plan, we have seen the perceptions of horses anyone can accomplish it. Learning and riding differ Getting started in horseback to ride depends on with age. Children the willingness of riding may take a lot of often romanticize the rider. People groundwork and research, but the concept of the can work around with the right plan, anyone horse and view the physical aspects can accomplish it. animal in the roseand mental aspects colored light of books and movies. if they choose to, so riding becomes Adults, on the other hand, may see a possibility for anyone that is horses as giant cash drains, creating interested in learning. Even some problems instead of relief, and physical concerns can be worked coming with the additional burden around. Riding still is used for therapy of hard work. The reality though, lies in some cases and a physical disability somewhere between the perceptions can be worked with. of the younger and the older riders. Adults do, however, need to be The considerations in terms of reasonable when it comes to their learning to ride also differ with age. expectations of riding. There are There are countless reasons to ride various financial issues, time issues, while you are still young, but many and mental issues that come into play. people overlook learning to ride People that want to undertake riding Page 42


need to be aware that the sport can be as taxing on the pocketbook as can be time consuming. When something we enjoy is possible, we are often prone to make as many sacrifices as we can to create an environment for that special something to happen. Horseback riding is no exception; where there is a will, there is a way. While the physical and mental benefits may be plenty, there are still many considerations to make at the end of the day. Whether horseback riding is for your or not will depend on your family, your friends, your finances,

and your overall will to want to do it. If you find yourself in a position of questioning riding, you can always check out some stables and instructors to find out if it is a good fit for you or not. If you have made up your mind to learn to ride as an adult, don始t let your age or your physical condition make the decision for you. Rely on your mentality, your emotions, your family, and your commitment to make the right decision. If you choose to participate in the world of horseback riding, you will not be disappointed.

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Depending on your age, physical condition, personality, and goals, you have two styles of horseback riding from which to choose: English or Western. I Wanna Be a Cowboy Western riding has always been thought of as more of a pleasure with no goal other than enjoying the ride and the scenery. Many associate cowboys, open ranges, and evening campfires near the herds with Western horseback riding. Itʼs true that Western riding started out as something very basic and functional but still requires certain skills. While trail riding and peaceful times figures highly in Western riding, donʼt be fooled. Once a riderʼs level of ability and skill increases, Western equestrian activities are exciting and fast paced. Barrel racing, roping, and cow cutting, for example, involve plenty of skill and fun, breathless moments. The style tends to be easier on the studentʼs body, being more relaxed and the position of your body in the saddle is looser than English riding might be. While still involving plenty of technique, Western riding isnʼt as focused on perfection as the English style of horseback riding tends to be.

riders, as the design of saddles is to keep the rider on the horse. When cowboys rode the range trying to keep herds of feisty cattle in line, the last thing they wanted was to be yanked from the saddle by an angry steer on the other end of their rope. The horn on a Western saddle also makes for an excellent handle, for beginning riders who need something to hold.

If stability and falling are a concern, you are probably better off learning to ride Western style. There are no guarantees that you wonʼt fall off a horse while riding a Western saddle but the chances are reduced. Also, you can switch to English riding once you feel comfortable on a horse, if you Western riding is very stable and find that the style of Western riding provides a sense of security to novice doesnʼt suit your personality. Page 44


Knights in Shining Armor At the other end of the spectrum is English riding, often perceived as being about money and control. The image of English riding is that of knights in shining armor, mounted troops of medieval soldiers, prancing horses, and Olympic riders soaring over high jumps. These perceptions don始t make the English style of riding any better than the Western style and most often, choosing a style of riding is about preference and personality. English saddles are very small and light, giving little seat security to riders. Their original design focused on having few impediments for swinging swords and armored riders. Riders must use their legs, posture, and balance to stay mounted, more so than on a Western saddle.

The risk of fall is higher with English riding and these risks increase proportionately to the type of equestrian activities carried out. If your goal is eventually learning jumping, be prepared to take the occasional tumble. Jumping, however, is not a requirement of riding English style. There are many different equestrian activities based on English riding and many areas, such as dressage and flatwork, involve no jumping at all. Some important requirements of the English style of riding are dexterity, flexibility, and light to moderate body weight. Older riders tend to be heavier and less limber than when they were younger, which can make English riding more of a challenge. English riding requires rigid posture, a higher level of technicality, and balance.

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Nothing is Written in Stone Whichever style of horseback riding you choose to start learning, English or Western, should be the one you feel most comfortable and think youʟll enjoy the most. Western and English riding are as much about personal preference and personality as anything is. The perceptions we have of the arrogant English rider and the relaxed Western cowboy are just that – perceptions. There are as many arrogant Western cowboys as there are relaxed English riders. At the basic level, learning to ride a horse in either style involves the same things. Both styles are based on the same skills of riding. If you feel more comfortable starting out with Western, then do so. If youʟve always liked English riding, start there. You can try both to see which you like best, and you

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As with any new sport, activity, or hobby, a new rider is going to need basic equipment. Adult riders should shop with a budget and only buy the strict necessary to start with, as horseback riding accessories, clothing, and equipment can be very tempting to a new rider – and also very expensive.

not a suitable helmet for horseback riding. Look for the standards in your area and purchase a helmet meets those standards.

Boots are important. You will need to find comfortable boots that fit in all the right places. The boots should have minimal tread and a heel that measures around one inch high. In most cases, you can find great deals on used riding boots in tack shops. As with any other shoe, the key to picking the correct riding boot is finding the right fit. Your boots should not too tight or too loose on your foot. Injuries often happen because of people slipping out of their boots or wide boots caught in the stirrups. These injuries can be prevented before they happen by One piece of equipment that you canĘźt buying properly fitted boots. skimp on is your helmet. Falling off the horse is very common in horseback Boots do not have to be specifically riding. Sooner or later, everyone takes designed for riding, although it does a fall and even the best and most help. The tread is very important. If experienced riders still fall. Make sure the tread is too deep, you may end you purchase an industry approved up being stuck in the stirrup. For riding helmet. These agencies are this reason, standard hiking boots or the foremost authority on approving winter boots are not recommended for helmets for equestrian activities. horseback riding. Only approved helmets for riding are suitable. Each country has their A good pair of boots can last a lifetime agencies that set the standard for head and will be well worth paying a little safety equipment. A bicycle helmet is bit more money. Next to your helmet, Page 48


www.equineonline.com.au - quality training equipment for you and your horse

the boots are the most important piece another common choice made by those who don始t know any better but fleece of your riding gear. materials have absolutely no grip on You can usually dress casually unless smooth leather and slipping becomes you are going to be in a horse show. a concern. Your first time out will likely not be in front of hundreds of people and in all The best pants for riding are those likelihood, casual dress will suit you designed for the activity. Riding just fine. A T-shirt or a sweatshirt is pants (also called tights, breeches, or usually standard. If you are going to britches) can be purchased with leather be riding on trails outdoors, consider patches for the knees and buttocks. wearing brighter colors so that you These pants are designed to have some are more visible. A standard among grip to the fabric, giving you a solid many riders is a vest, especially when seat in the saddle. Many people like the weather starts to cool down. A vest a pair of two-way stretch tights for often allows for enough mobility from riding. Test out some different types of the rider but still keeps your body pants when you are in a tack shop to find ones that fit the best and give good warm. contact. Jeans may seem like a fine type of pant to wear horseback riding but are to be Avoid loose-legged pants, as these will avoided. Jeans don始t have the flexibility ride up around your needs. The extra or stretch-and-give necessary for fabric will interfere with the stirrups, riding. The loose lower pant leg tends your grip, and with your general to ride up and expose the calf. Because comfort of sitting on the horse. of the leg grip required to stay seated on the horse, exposed skin can rub painfully on stirrup leathers or the saddle. The seat position of a beginning rider combined with the seam placement at the crotch of jeans may be very uncomfortable and cause chafing in undesirable places. Sweatpants are Page 49


The first order of business is finding an instructor that will help you reach your goals. Find an instructor that understands your limitations and your situation.

romance, you have to ask yourself if you can “live” with this person.

Youʼre both in this for the long run and if the relationship is right, you may end up being together for several Over time, you will develop a years. You have to feel comfortable relationship with your instructor, enough with your instructor to trust enabling you to get the most out of beyond the shadow of a doubt. riding in the best way possible. If you have found a good instructor, the both There are a number of ways to find of you will grow with each other. This a qualified instructor. You can attend is going to be a long-term relationship, a horse show. At horse shows, many and just like with a job or a new horse experts are there specifically Page 50


for networking and finding potential students. A competition, event, or show is a great place to find answers to your specific questions from people who are knowledgeable in the field.

those contacts. Drop in at stables and talk to the people that are there. Find your price range and discover what you want from riding before you decide on an instructor. Bear in mind that the more in demand an instructor is, the Another way to find a qualified more likely you are to pay a premium instructor in your area is through price. Have a price range that you can the good old financially manage Yellow Pages. The Over time, you will develop before you begin a relationship with your instructor should shopping around for be certified or instructor, enabling you to instructors. Keep in accredited from get the most out of riding in mind, though, that groups like Pony cost does not mean the best way possible Club or Instructors quality instruction. Associations, or have many years of Many instructors offer lower rates experience working with horses. Many than others offer but provide equal or other local agencies and companies better service. serve as accrediting agencies for quality instructors, so investigate those Some stables or instructors require a aspects in your local area to determine set amount of payment to reserve a the right instructor for your situation. block of lessons. For example, based on their plan you may have to pay for Good instructors can be found through five lessons at once. There may also be local, regional, or even national riding some additional costs to cover other clubs. These clubs can be found things, such as equipment rentals, through the Yellow Pages or through horse rentals (in most cases, the price an internet search. You might get of lessons includes the use of the better results if you try to contact the horse), and even some basic built-in instructors directly. liability insurance. There are practical ways to find a good horseback riding instructor. You can network through friends or family. Ask around. Use your social connections to gain some contacts in the equestrian field and work through

If you are unsure about the costs associated with the lessons, always check with the stables. You may also want ask if there is a difference in price from lesson to lesson. Some stables have basic lessons, different Page 51


blocks of group or private lessons, and even assessment lessons. There may be other costs associated with the different types of lessons. If you are preparing for dressage, trial riding, or other extras there will likely be costs involved with that as well. The costs tend to differ regionally, so the best way to investigate these costs is to call the stable and ask them personally.

varied as the person asking them, but a general rule of thumb is to find an instructor that you feel comfortable with and who thinks along the same lines you do. One important question to ask is how much experience with beginning adults the instructor has.

When you learn to ride, horseback riding is taught with a specific program in mind, with each step built on the Contact many different instructors previous one. Ask how personalized and ask the same questions of each the teaching program is towards the one to compare. Begin by asking specific goals you have. the instructor the same questions you have asked yourself in previous Other questions you should ask sections above. Is the instructor an instructor include what type of patient? Are they tolerant of different certification they have. If they are riding skill levels? Are they good fully accredited, the instructor will communicators? What do they expect have first aid knowledge and be fully from their students? versed in all riding skills, mount types, equipment components, and coaching The array of questions regarding the techniques as administrated by your type of instructor you choose are as state or regional associations.

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Accreditation is reliable proof of experience, teaching ability, and knowledge of skills and security. Those who pursue accreditation in instruction must answer to certain criteria and pass exams. A lack of accreditation, however, does not mean the instructor should be passed over as a choice. There are many great riding instructors that you will come across that are not officially certified by any association observe right off the bat. Visit the other than the school of experience. location they teach at. Have a good Currently, there are no laws requiring look around the facilities and ask to see the horses. You horseback riding When you learn to ride, can tell a lot about an instructors to horseback riding is taught instructor and about obtain certification with a specific program in a riding school from before offering lessons to others. mind, with each step built on your first impression. Ask questions, a lot Many people the previous one. of them, and get as have chosen not to pursue certification for personal much information as you can. If a or financial reasons and are just as particular instructor, whether they are able to provide quality lessons as accredited or not, refuses to answer other individuals are. Experience and any of them or makes you feel stupid reputation are sometimes valid ways for asking them, then you don始t need to judge how able an instructor is to to learn from that person. teach others. Ask if you can watch a lesson. This At the very least, these instructors is one of the best ways to learn about should have basic emergency care an instructor and about the school. skills and should be certified in You can learn a lot from watching administering the basics of first aid. the way an instructor interacts with These instructors should also have their students and with their horses. general teaching skills that you can Picture yourself in the saddle taking Page 53


will have a significant impact on the quality of your lessons.

lessons and see if you are able to handle the techniques used. Are the students are wearing the required safety equipment, such as helmets? Is equipment provided or will you have to bring your own? Ask the instructor for additional details on the safety equipment. Determine how the riding instructor interacts with his or her students. A good instructor is patient and respectful and not a maniacal tyrant on a power trip. Simple observation of a class or two will give you all the information you need. Watch for conflicts, and see what the instructor does to resolve them. Attitude has a lot to do with how a person is with the horses as well. The way your instructor speaks to people Page 54

Count the number of students in the session. Horseback riding can be learned alone or in groups. If there are too many students in one lesson for your liking, you may want to look in to the possibility of private lessons or find out if there are smaller classes. Having a class that is too crowded influences the way the lessons operate and can result in safety issues that may affect the quality of your lesson. Lessons can be private in a one-on-one situation with student and instructor. Semi-private lessons involve two students and one instructor and group lessons involve three students or more. Private lessons involve personalized attention and tend to be more intense and focused. Many people claim to learn better in private lessons, especially older riders. Private lessons are also more expensive. Less costly semi-private and group lessons offer the opportunity to learn from the instructor and from watching other students ride as well. The drawback of semi-private or group lessons is that the instructor始s training is split between more than one individual. Another problem with adults and group lessons is that older riders


Jason McInnes Performance Training, Horsemansip and Adult Education actually tend to need more specific care than younger riders do. Older riders need more attention from the instructor and a large group of people may not allow for much of that.

enjoy the lesson and the instructor始s methods. You can find out how well the instructor divides his attention among the class, too. Finding out how an instructor deals with different types of riders is as important to your Normally, novice riders start with decision process as anything else you a private instructor in a one-on- have taken into consideration so far. one situation. Some find it easier to become familiar with the horse before After talking to some students, talk to entering into a group situation. Not the instructor in private. There are some only can the larger group be difficult questions you should consider asking for the beginning rider, but also for the them to find out if they are suitable horse. for your particular needs as a rider or Another thing to take note of is how the as a novice learning to ride. Find out instructor matches students to horses. how long they have been riding horses If the instructor is pairing a feisty horse and whether they have owned horses. with a rookie rider, you can bet there will be problems. Instructors should take the time to talk to you and find a horse that matches your personality, your skill level, your physical body type, and your confidence level. You should be paired with a horse that will best help improve your skills as a rider. Any good instructor will have figured out many of these factors from the time spent with you during the initial interview. After observing a lesson, spend some time talking casually with the students in the class. Find out if they have experienced riding improvements with this instructor and if they generally Page 55


Ask the instructor how long they have been teaching riding and how they are enjoying the teaching process. Many instructors out there have years of experience with horseback riding and can approach new situations with a wealth of expertise to pull from. You can also ask about personal awards from shows or other events. If they have competed in horse shows, trials, or any type of equestrian competition, ask about the type of events. A lot can be learned about a person by the type of riding they choose to do. All of this information adds up to whether or not the particular instructor始s views and style are harmonious with what you are hoping to accomplish as a person learning to ride. If you have an instructor that is more associated with racing and you are a person looking to learn uncomplicated riding techniques, you may want to consider another type of instructor. Most instructors have a specialty. Ask about that specialty and have the instructor explain that specialty to you. If you are aiming to trail ride and the instructor is into jumping or dressage, you may want to consider taking lessons from another type of instructor. You should find an instructor who matches up with your own goals and can teach you exactly Page 56

what you want to learn. Be candid and open with the instructor. They will likely ask you what your goals are as a rider and general questions about your personal fitness level. Answer these questions as clearly as possible to help the instructor gain some insight how to teach you. With this information, your instructor can tailor your lesson to meet your particular needs as a rider. Now is a good point to voice any possible concerns you may have, too. Ask about the facility始s policies and become familiar with them. Even though you may be extra anxious to get into the saddle, you should really come prepared for your riding experience. Read all stable rules and regulations for riders and know what the consequences are for situations such as missed lessons and other


Jason McInnes Performance Training & Horsemanship Education for horses and riders, re-training horses, starting horses

www.jasonmcinnes.com.au

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a bony, skinny look? Do you see any vertical cracks in its hooves? Look for any cuts or abrasions on the body of the horse. Also note any areas that might be swollen, especially around the limbs and joints, and if you do discover anything like that, the horse should be resting and not involved in a lesson. Horseʼs eyes should be clear, not cloudy. If the horse cannot see properly, the both of you could be endangered on the ride. Take special care of the eyes of the horse and make sure that there is no tearing, abrasions, foreign objects, or breaks in or around the eye.

The rider isnʼt the only one to have possible physical problems; a horse can too. One of a riderʼs responsibilities is to be aware of the horseʼs physical condition. Horses can suffer from back, leg or joint problems the same way people do. Since novice riders donʼt know what to look for when inspecting a horseʼs health for riding, here are some tips: Take an overall impression of the horse. Is its coat sleek and shiny? Does it look round and well fed? Are its ribs overly apparent or does it have Page 58

The breath of the horse is also a good indicator as to its health. The breath of a horse should smell somewhat normal, much in the same way you know when a humanʼs breath is normal. If it is foul or if it smells, or if the horse is not eating properly, there could be some issues. If you can, look at the horseʼs droppings. True, it doesnʼt sound like a glamorous task, but this will tell you how the horse is doing from the inside out. The consistency of droppings can tell you a lot about the horseʼs health. Droppings should be round balls that look firm but are soft when squeezed. Diarrhea or loose droppings arenʼt


a good sign of health and could be caused from excess stress, illness, or poor diet. Check if the horse has free access to clean, fresh water and possibly hay for snacking on. Try to determine the general mood of the horse. Does it seem perky and happy or does it seem lackluster with its head hanging? Are there any behaviors that tell you something may be wrong? Does the horse appear friendly and curious? Do its ears go back and tail squish angrily when you approach? Does it try to bite or avoid your presence? If a horse seems to be unfriendly or overly resigned and has a “beaten down� appearance, look at the other horses at the facility. Horses that receive proper care and attention generally have good manners and are sociable. If the other horses at the facility fit the profile of a happy horse – gentle, curious, and sociable with an interest in the goings-on around them, then the horse you were observing is probably just showing you its own particular personality. If, however, most of the horses at the facility do not seem happy or in good health, choose another stable for your riding needs.

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Safety procedures should be carefully discussed during your lessons or beforehand with a trained professional. Good trainers will asses the frame of mind and attitude of the horse before you mount. There are several ground work proceedures that help determine the horses attitude and establish leadership on the ground. Once you have proven yourself on the ground and the horse is showing you that he has a willing, responsive attitude then it is normally a good indicator that your mount will be ready for you to ride them.

if the time comes, you will know what to do. Always keep safety as a top concern when you are learning to ride as an adult.

Use the proper safety equipment and avoid any used equipment in poor condition. A regulation helmet must always be securely fastened and must be worn at all times on the horse. Helmets prevent many serious injuries and can save your life. Most accidents take place while riding but there is small portion of accidents that occur while off the horse and while feeding or grooming it. Have your instructor Have your instructor show you show you the proper techniques for everything about the process of an handling horses and moving around emergency dismount so that when and them.

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Quality equipment for you and your horse

www.equineonline.com.au

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If you have come prepared and have thought through your plan of attack, you can expect to greet your first lessons with a positive attitude that may give back the good results you were looking for to begin with. You can bet that your first few lessons are going to be complicated at times. They may be wonderful moments or they may create some negative emotions. You may even feel you want to quit and give up riding. Many people often feel that the challenge of horseback riding and learning to ride is too much for them and they give up before they even give the sport a chance. You could have the best instructor, arena, horse, or collection

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of riding gear, but if you don始t have the confidence or the will to continue, nothing will ever make your riding experience better. Give yourself and horseback riding a chance. Even the most experienced riders go through rough periods where nothing seems to be going well and working through those frustrations or difficulties is part of horseback riding. Try not to be discouraged at your efforts and focus on the small things you始ve learned, rather than seeing only the big picture of being able to ride as a whole. Set yourself the small goal of having five lessons before taking the final decision to give up.


It is very important for the psychology this should be from sore muscles and of both horse and rider to end all activity. If you feel any pain during the lessons on a positive note. Ending activity of riding, stop immediately. a lesson on a negative note after a Never push through your bodyʼs frustrating moment or a scare leaves signals that it needs a break. Any both rider and horse with a bad feeling sharp or sudden pain warrants a visit that lingers a long time. The practice to a doctor. of getting back in the saddle after a fall is important in the horseback To help ease the “growing pains” of riding world. By dealing with the learning to ride, take a long soak in fear or frustration a warm bath once Give yourself and and overcoming it you get home to immediately, even if horseback riding a chance. help relax muscles all the rider does is Even the most experienced and loosen them ride the horse at a walk riders go through rough up. The effects for a few minutes, the of soreness often periods effects of a negative appear the day after experience wonʼt be as damaging or horseback riding and may last two to last as long as a rider who quits on a three days before easing. Each time bad note. you do ride, though, youʼll notice that youʼre not as sore as you were One thing that is easily forgotten last week. Eventually, your body will when you are first learning to ride is be in shape and you wonʼt have any the horse is a living, breathing, feeling soreness after riding at all. animal. Horses are to be treated, at all times, with respect and with dignity. The relationship a rider builds with the horse sets the tone for the basis of communication between them. Building a good relationship between horse and rider takes time and effort, but once you begin to see the results the sense of accomplishment is worth it. After your first few times riding a horse, youʼll experience quite a bit of soreness, stiffness, or pain. However,

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Where Do I Go From Here? You can learn how to trot, gallop, canter, and perform tricks on your horse. You can take part in shows, competitions, and other events and learn all about the different aspects of equestrianism. Learning to ride can make an incredible impact on your life as your riding can make an incredible impact on the lives of others. Horseback riding is truly something special, and as with anything else, you never know where it will take you.

riding and learning side by side with the horse. The lessons you take away from riding will last you a lifetime and give you a unique perspective on life as a whole.

While some of the physical aspects may be more difficult for you as an older rider, you may find that you have more to offer in terms of your mental and your emotional strength. As you learn and gain experience there will come a time when you can pass your If you始re lucky, you might find a new wisdom down to other riders that may career in horseback riding. Some be younger than you. options are teaching, training horses for show, pleasure, or racing, or You can offer that guiding trail rides. The employment wisdom to people from and career opportunities in the all lifestyles. world of horses are vast and varied. Horseback riding can change the course of your life and it can benefit you in ways that you might never have imagined. As a horseback rider, you will find that you have unearthed an entire culture that enjoys equine-related activities. You will unlock a new appreciation for horses and start to see changes cropping up everywhere in your life. Compassion for the horse can be developed and taught through Page 65


If you are new to the sport of horse riding or looking at taking it back up again after a break, a great way to build your confidence and get acquainted with the horse and saddle is to visit your local riding or trail riding school. You can google one that is close to you and get yourself started. Trail riding schools are excellent places to test your nerve, enthusiasm and fitness for the sport before you make the big investment of purchasing your own.

One of Australia’s favourite trail riding schools is Rubicon Valley Horse Riding, located only 2hrs North East of Melboure. The scenery is spectacular and they have novice trail rides, all day rides, overnight rides, family rides, in fact rides to suit all occassions and levels.

Visit them at: www.rubiconhorseriding.com.au

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Quality equipment for you and your horse

www.equineonline.com.au


Taking up riding as an adult