Before getting on a horse, it is imperative to prepare your horse correctly, but also to create a special bond with it. This will simply allow you to approach the riding lesson with greater serenity. You will then learn to position yourself well and to master the different paces.
Ride a Horse : preparations
Your instructor asks you to arrive at least 30 minutes before the riding lesson starts. This has 3 advantages : knowing which horse is assigned to you, taking the time to prepare it without stress and getting to know it better, especially if it is your first time riding it.
When you are a beginner, you tend to ask other riders what they think of the horse you have been assigned. However, it is advisable to form your own opinion and not to listen to negative opinions such as : he is sneaky, he is vicious, he kicks ass or he knocks everyone down. This will only serve to destabilise you. Keep these guidelines in mind instead :
- If your instructor has given you this ride, it means that you are perfectly capable of riding it.
- Have confidence in yourself and everything will go well !
- Maybe those riders who don't like the horse you are going to ride simply didn't know how to lead it and take the time to get to know it.
How to equip your horse before riding ?
You know the horse you want to ride, so all you have to do is go and get it ready. Don't forget to take his own equipment to the tack room. This generally consists of a halter and a lead rope to fetch him, a saddle pad and a saddle, and his snaffle.
As for the grooming equipment, it is provided for all the horses in the club. You only need to take what you need if you do not have your own equipment.
Grooming your horse
Before being saddled and bridled, your horse must be impeccably clean, without straw in the tail. Grooming your horse has 3 different functions :
- It allows you to groom him before harnessing him.
- It relaxes him while activating the blood circulation.
- It's a big opportunity to identify any abnormalities or injuries.
To groom your horse correctly, you need
- a hoof pick to clean the underside of the hooves
- a currycomb, very useful when the horse is very dirty, as it is used to remove dust, mud and to loosen the hair.
- a hard brush called a "cork" which cleans the horse's coat well. Be careful, it should not be used on a shorn horse or one with sensitive skin.
- a soft brush which finishes the grooming and makes the coat shine.
You can also use a clean sponge to clean the eyes and then the nostrils, a comb-type brush to detangle the mane and tail.
How to saddle your horse ?
Once you have finished grooming your horse, you need to saddle it. This is how to do it :
- Put your saddle pad gently on his back : it must be placed without folds, in front and covering his withers. Some riders add shock absorbers.
- Next, place the saddle gently on the pad. It should be placed behind the withers so as not to injure them.
- Then, the saddle pad is untucked, i.e. the front of the saddle pad is pulled upwards to free the withers.
- Then, girth in several times and gently, knowing that the horse tends to inflate when you are about to saddle him. Note : a well positioned girth is one that is placed a hand's width from the back of the horse's elbow. This prevents the horse from being hindered in his movements and from being injured during the recovery.
- The saddle is now well adjusted on the horse's back. Now you have to adjust the stirrups to the right height. To do this, lower the stirrups and close your fist on the top of the stirrup leather by extending your arm. The stirrup should reach under your armpit to be at the right height.
How do you bridle your horse ?
Bridling a horse seems complicated for a beginner because he often has to put the bit in the horse's mouth with his thumb. Relax, it is not difficult at all ! Here are the steps to follow :
- Stand at the front left of the horse and pull the reins over its neck.
- Take the top of the snaffle in your left hand. Then your right hand should go under the horse's throat to gently place itself on his muzzle (the area from the eye line to the nose) so that the horse's head does not move when you bridle him.
- Very gently, you position the snaffle, taking care to fit the bit in the horse's mouth. If the horse does not open its mouth to receive the bit, place your left thumb in the toothless area at the corner of the mouth. Give a gentle downward pull.
- Once the bit is in the horse's mouth, adjust the headstall on the horse's head by placing it one ear at a time.
- The last step is to adjust the throat latch correctly. You should be able to put two to three fingers through. The same applies to a well-fitting noseband.
Good to know : for certain horses, such as hackamore, ridden without a mouthpiece (without a bit), the action is done on the horse's nostrils. This is particularly suitable for horses that are going for a ride.
How to ride a horse ?
Once your horse is equipped, you will go to the riding hall (a covered area where horse riding is practiced). When you get there, stand on the left side of your horse and proceed as follows to mount your horse :
- Check the girth. Check the girth and, if necessary, tighten it again.
- Before mounting, your reins must be well adjusted so that the horse does not move. Hold them in your left hand, then place your left foot in the stirrup.
- Bend your knees and slowly rise to straddle your horse while passing your right leg to the other side.
How to get off the horse ?
Your lesson is over. Getting off the horse is not complicated, even if you are on a big horse. As soon as your horse is static, keep the reins in your left hand. Take your feet out of the stirrups. Lean your body to the left of the mount. Swing your right leg back, without touching the horse's rump. Finally, put your foot down.
All that remains is for you to quietly attend to your companion and reward him for his work.