It is easier to learn things, especially new things, as a child. And most experienced and top horse-riders, began their horse-riding journey at a very young age, so it can be intimidating to think about getting into the equine world at an older age.
But here’s a secret, that’s not really that much of a secret: it is never too late to start learning.
If you’re an adult, and you find that you would like to learn how to ride a horse, then go for it! You have your own life, your own means, and you can finally decide to invest your time into things that you want to try out, so what’s stopping you?
There is absolutely no shame in starting to horse ride as an adult, and there are plenty of horse riding schools and stables that will cater to adults at a beginner level.
All you need to do is find the nearest horse-riding center, and book the first lesson! If you enjoy it, you can then make those horse riding lessons a regular activity, and slowly, you will improve and become more experienced.
However, if you’re worried about making a total fool of yourself, or improving at far too slow a rate, then what you have to do is focus on getting the most out of your riding lessons, so that you are learning as much as you can, and truly pushing yourself to improve and get better.
How do you do that? Well, we can tell you all about that! From how to prepare for your first lesson, to learning all the basics, to making progress, and a few tips and tricks to help you along the way. Let’s get right into it!
Preparing For Your First Lesson
The first riding lesson is one of the most important, as it will be your first go at horse riding, and it could shape your feelings and impressions of the activity! So you have to make sure to prepare properly, so that it can go as smoothly as possible, in order for you to fully enjoy the experience!
Here are a few things we recommend you do, in order to prepare for your first lesson:
Booking The Lesson
First of all, you need to book the lesson. Make sure you look up a few different riding schools and choose the one closest. If you’re going to be attending lessons regularly, you want it to be convenient! You can also choose based on the price, or based on what they have to offer.
When booking your first lesson, make sure to tell them you’re an adult with no previous experience, so that they can get the right horse and trainer ready for you!
Wearing The Right Clothes
Like with all activities and sports, it is essential that you wear the right clothing attire when horse riding.
Ideally, you should wear riding trousers, but if you don’t have any and don’t want to buy any before your first lesson, just make sure you are wearing comfortable trousers that are thick enough to protect you from rubbing against the saddle.
You should also wear a comfortable t-shirt, and a jumper or jacket if it’s cold. Make sure to check the weather beforehand!
High socks are recommended, and you should then wear some comfortable boots that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Most riding schools and stables will lend you the necessary riding gear during your first lesson, and sometimes even during every lesson! However, it is very important that you double-check this when you are booking the lesson in the first place.
You will need to wear a helmet, which needs to fit the size of your head properly, and other than that, the only necessary riding gear is riding boots (if you’re not already wearing appropriate boots), and extra protection if needed.
Get There Early If You Can!
The one thing we always recommend for first lessons is getting there early. Not only as a precaution in case you get lost on the way or similar, but also so that you have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the stables, get to meet the horse, and learn some basics before you saddle up and get started!
And if your trainer is too busy, you can simply wander around, getting to know the different horses.
Trust us, getting there early is absolutely worth it!
Learning About Horse Tack, And Horse Care
If you get to your first horse riding lesson with plenty of time, you might be able to get a tour of the barn, and this is a great way of familiarizing yourself with the horse’s environment and learning a bit about how it all works. Plus you might get to say hi to some other riders so that you start making friends!
Also, we absolutely recommend learning to ride in stables that have you saddle up the horse yourself, instead of simply getting there and having the horse already waiting and ready. It’s a bit more time, and a bit more effort, but it means you get to learn about the horse tack, how to put it on, and how it all works.
Plus, it means you also get to bond with the horse a little more, and you’re interacting with the gear, which means you learn a lot more!
And then, after the lesson is finished, if the horse is due to go back into the stable, make sure you offer to help with it! (Some places will have you do it anyway).
That way you’re also removing the horse tack, and taking care of the horse. This might involve giving the horse a shower, brushing the horse, cleaning out the hooves, or all sorts!
But basically, the more hands-on you are with preparing the horse for the lesson, and taking care of the horse, the more you will learn, the more you will bond with the horse, and the faster you will progress as a rider.
Not to mention, that spending time with the horse is just as important as improving your riding skills, and it’s one of the best bits of horse riding!
The Basics Of Riding
During your first lesson, you will be taking things really slow, and it will be all about learning the basics.
If you do some research beforehand, you can familiarize yourself with certain terms, and that way you won’t have to get an explanation for everything, giving you more time to learn other things! That way you will get a lot more out of the lesson.
The first step will probably be to check over the horse tack and to adjust the stirrups to the right length for you. In order to do this, place your hand at the base of the stirrup straps, on the saddle, and then the stirrups should come up to your armpit, being the length of your full arm.
As a general rule, that is how long they should be, so that you can ride comfortably. Nevertheless, you can keep adjusting them as you ride, until you get the perfect length. (pro tip, remember the number of holes for the stirrup adjustment so that you can get them perfectly straight away the next time!)
Next, the instructor will get you to become comfortable on the horse. So you will sit, rise, saddle, turn around, and basically learn to be at ease on the horse.
The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the more relaxed and responsive your horse will be. Horses can feel fear and anxiety, and if you’re nervous, the horse will think that something is wrong, and they will get nervous too! But don’t worry, for beginners, they usually provide extra calm horses that know exactly what they’re doing.
Finally, the lesson will likely focus on learning basic riding commands, like getting your horse to walk, getting your horse to stop, and learning to direct your horse one way or another. All while you get used to being on the saddle while your horse moves about.
The instructor will also teach you how to position your legs, and how to have your feet within the stirrups, as well as general posture. Something that you should know is that you hold on to the horse with your legs! (Mainly your thighs) And the reins are simply for directing the horse!
Trotting For The First Time
If you’re a quick learner, and you pick up all the basics early on during your first lesson, the instructor might have you try to trot for the first time ever.
That is if you’re comfortable, and you’ve mastered walking. You might want to ask what kind of trot the horse has so that the instructor can give you extra tips, as all horses have their own trotting style, with some being easier and more comfortable than others.
The first time you start trotting, you might feel a little nervous, as it can be very bouncy, and you can instantly struggle with staying upright on the horse. But don’t worry, it will get easier with time!
Remember to hold on with your legs, and try not to pull on the reins too tightly, despite it being instinctive to do so. The trick is to relax, and to let your body bounce and move with the horse, until you get into a good rhythm, and feel at ease!
Oh and here’s a secret, most people find galloping easier than trotting, because there’s less bounce. So if you can stay on during a trot, you’re already a pro!
Making Progress, One Lesson At A Time
Once you’ve overcome your first lesson, riding will get easier and easier, and you will slowly get into a flow of learning. In order to make the most out of the lessons, be sure to concentrate on making progress, no matter how small, by improving at least one thing every single time.
You can also work with your horse riding instructor, to plan what you want to focus on in each lesson. Your instructor will know exactly what you have to improve, and the priority in which you should improve things, so trust them on it and work on things step by step.
From your posture to your core strength, to your legs and feet, to the control over the reins… Once you start learning you will find that there is a lot to learn in horse riding and a lot of details that often go unnoticed by those unfamiliar with horse riding.
There are also many different things to try out in riding. First of all, it’s improving your technique and control, and learning to trot, and eventually to gallop. But over time, you can get into specific disciplines, such as jumping, or dressage, or hiking over rough terrain!
You’ll be a pro rider in no time if you put in the work!
Tips For Making The Most Out Of Your Riding Lessons
Just to make sure that you are truly getting the most out of your riding lessons, here are a few extra tips for you to follow:
Get The Right Riding Instructor For You
It is very important to get a riding instructor that is right for you, someone who you can trust and connect with, and that will be good at identifying what you need, and how you can improve.
If you don’t feel at ease with your instructor, you’re not going to do much learning! The same goes for the riding school as a whole, make sure you vibe with the place!
Try Out Different Horses If Necessary
Horses all have their unique styles and personalities, and not all of them are suited to the same type of riders.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the horse you’re riding, or you’re struggling to make the progress you want, ask to try a different horse. It’s all about finding the dream pairing so that you can truly progress as a rider, and improve in your technique!
Spend Time With The Horse And Around The Barn
Seriously, if you want to become a good horse rider, you need to be familiar with the horse and the barn, and you need to know your way around the place, comfortable with performing tasks and taking charge.
Take Over And Start Tacking Up The Horse Yourself
You should be the one to tack up and saddle your horse, so that you double-check everything is correct, and make sure your horse is comfortable. This is also a good habit to get into to make sure everything is in working condition, for safety purposes.
Offer To Take Care Of The Horse Grooming Before And After Each Lesson
Bonding time with the horse is vital. You want to learn to trust each other, so you work together even better!
Communicate With Your Instructor
Communication is key. Talk to your instructor about what feels right and what doesn’t, and tell them what it is you want to focus on and improve!
Don’t be afraid to try out new things! As a new horse rider, you should get a taste of everything, so that you can better find your style.
In conclusion, in order to get the most out of your riding lessons, you need to put in the time, the effort, and the passion. Make sure you are spending time at the barn, with the horse, learning outside of the lesson itself. Through saddling up your horse, grooming, cleaning, and more.
You should then also make sure to communicate with your instructor, so you can focus on improving your technique, and so that you can prioritize certain aspects of your riding that you are most interested in.
And other than that, make sure to do your own research, and get familiar with riding terms and disciplines, so that you can keep improving and try out all sorts of new things!