Riding horses requires two things: A desire to learn and a horse.
A life around horses can be a life-changing experience, opening the door to your passion and quickly becoming the most fulfilling part of your day.
There can be various ways to get started with horses. Perhaps you have family or a neighbor with horses, have ridden a few times at a local barn, or have only seen their beauty from afar. No matter what brought you here, there are several ways to get more involved. Next, we will walk you through the steps to finding a barn, what to expect, and how to be best prepared.
How to Start Riding Horses
Okay, so there might be more than two things needed to ride. It’s essential to take these first steps and surround yourself in the right environment so you can learn more.
> Find a local barn and instructor
Start with some research into various riding disciplines (for example, western and english disciplines) to see what you might want to focus on. For your initial lessons, you will be learning about balance, care, and control. You will further finesse into a discipline as you progress. Be honest with yourself; if you have some experience or none at all, be sure to let the barns know so they can pair you with the right horse and program.
> How do I find local equine programs?
Try researching local training, lesson, or boarding barns to see if they have lesson programs you can join. In many areas, you may find clubs, organizations and associations focused on riding. Visiting local tack stores can also be a great way to browse bulletin boards and actually start talking to people in the horse community near you.
Reach out to a few barns to discuss your goals and see if their program is the right fit. You can most likely observe a lesson before you schedule one for yourself, this can allow you to get a sense of the lessons and address any questions you have in advance. Feel free to ask the instructor about their experience, riding philosophy, and disciplines they teach.
Once you have found the right barn and instructor, you can plan for your first lesson. Consult with your instructor on what to bring, what time to arrive, if you will be getting the horse ready, and what else to expect.
> Getting to know horse terminology
As you begin to plan for your first lessons, it would be beneficial for you to do some ‘horse term’ sharpening and research names of brushes, tack, and horse conformation! Sure, you will learn this as you progress, but never hurts to get a leg up in these areas. Start a journal and take notes of what you are learning, and you can start seeing the progress you make as the lessons advance.
> How to prepare for your first lesson
For your first lesson, your instructor may take time to show you how to groom, tack, halter, and lead a horse. This is an important (and fun) part of riding! Ask your instructor what they expect before, during, and after your lessons. Again, let them know what you are comfortable doing and what you don’t know; you can only learn the things you don’t know!
You may be riding different horses as your lessons progress, remembering individual details about a horse will help you prepare and ride them properly – some horses have special care or details you will want to remember.
> What do I wear when riding horses?
Since you’re just getting started, you do not need to buy all the fanciest horse gear just yet. Begin with the basics and you can make bigger purchases as you go.
What you wear will always affect your safety and comfort. Clothes that prevent uncomfortable rubbing are the best choices. Activewear such as t-shirts, long sleeves, long and form-fitting pants with no harsh seams are ideal. Avoid clothes that could get tangled or that would restrict your movement.
For shoes, boots with a low heel and hard toe that cover the ankle are best. Many people prefer gloves to ride in or use around the barn to protect their hands.
You should also have a helmet that is ASTM-SEI certified, though your instructor will most likely have a helmet that you can wear as well. You can find gear at your local tack store or always ask your instructor when in doubt!
> What if I want to show or have my own horse?
If you’re looking for more ways to be involved, don’t hesitate to ask about any volunteer, showing, or even leasing opportunities! There’s much to discover and it’s a wonderful journey getting to work with horses. Make the most of this valuable time and write down what you learn during your lessons. Journaling can really help maximize your time and help you set goals and track progress.
The journey of horses often teaches us lessons in the saddle that change our lives forever. We hope you have a blast and find yourself booked for your first riding lesson soon!
About the Author: Anna Morton is the creator of Horsewrite, a journal for riders to have a dedicated space to gain more value from their lessons. Download the free How To Get Started Riding checklist and learn more at www.horsewrite.com.