They say that experience is the best teacher, and that you should never be afraid to make a mistake because that’s how you learn. While it’s correct in one way, but it’s not a very wise advice when it comes to horse riding. Whoever gives you that advice is a naïve person at best, and a masochist at worst. Why, do you really need to have a couple of fractured bones before you learn the proper riding posture? What’s wiser is to learn from the failures of others.
Below, you will find about five of the most common mistakes that newbie equestrians incur, and how to correct them. Your masochist friend may consider this cheating, but we’d rather prefer to call this being wise.
Slouching, slumping, and any other posture you make while riding your horse which do not abide by the straight-line rule is a wrong posture. Just stop. Signal your horse to stop, and evaluate your body posture and overall body alignment. This is arguably the most common of all mistakes that amateurs make without their knowing. You should never allow a second of your horse-riding experience go by without having checked this. For now, you will really have to be conscious of your body alignment – that’s normal. But if you fail to do this, then it might become a bad habit. And believe me, bad habits are way harder to unlearn than to learn.
So you’re asking yourself, “Why, what’s wrong with this?” Okay, pay attention. When you slouch, you’re putting weight and pressure on your front side. That would tell the horse you’re riding that you are suggesting for her to go faster. Yes, by your mere bodily gestures and sheer weight, you are communicating with your equine buddy. Unless if you can talk horse language, which you probably can’t.
So sit up straight, hold the reins tightly with your both hands, and your toes should point forward.
Misplaced and Tense Hands
For newbies, it is hard to teach about how tightly you should hold the reins. Okay, that part is better learned through experience and observation. However, you have to notice that along with a secure grip is a relaxed hand. We understand, and it is normal, to feel nervous when you’re not used to riding a horse, especially if the one you’re riding is a tall breed like the Thoroughbred. In addition to that, the one you’re sitting on is alive, and is moving! We know how it feels. However, you have to get over your nervousness quickly or your horse will notice it, and will get affected in ways you wouldn’t like. So relax your hands, don’t shake, while maintaining a secure grip on the reins.
As an added tip, instead of grabbing on to the reins too long and placing them near your chest, try to rest a bit and place them a bit lower. Placing them nearer to your belly would be best. Generally, you can identify the professional equestrian from the newbie by merely looking on where their hands are positioned.
Eyes Looking Down
This one is a shock, since it is a given that we should always look forward, or at least to where we’re headed. Surprisingly enough, many newbies tend to look down at their horse’s back, or worse, at the ground. My friend, the evenness of the ground is more of your horse’s concern, not yours. If your equine companion isn’t even worrying a bit about it, why should you be anxious? Your job is to steer the horse in the direction you want, and to regulate the pace. That you can do by looking forward, not by looking down.
But don’t worry; your horse can cut you some slack, so you are also allowed to take a quick glance on your horse – we know you love your equine buddy so much – but do no more than a peep lest you get distracted that you lose sight of your objective!
Poor Feet and Leg Positioning
Sometimes, you can get too tense that your leg might not be aligning with the rest of your body anymore. This can have negative consequences. For example, having your knees positioned too high, and your entire body appearing as if you’re sitting in a wooden chair. Not only is it bad for your steering, it is also dangerous to your overall body balance.
Now that I’ve mentioned it, another mistake similar to this is the improper execution of signs. As you might have learned from your horse riding lessons, the chief control signs are given by your hands and your feet. It would be best to review your lessons over and over lest you forget about them while riding a horse.
Another common feet positioning mistake is planting your feet too deeply into the stirrups. It’s not necessarily too bad for your horse; the one who would most likely suffer is you, since it’s too uncomfortable and can cause your feet to have bruises, especially if you’re not geared with professional and complete horse equipment.
Riding the Same Old Horse All the Time
You might not agree with this, but it is unwise to ride only one single horse at a time. While it is a good practice to maintaining rapport with one horse which you expect to be riding for a given time, but it is a mistake if you think that your equine friend is indispensable. Time will come when you will have to move on, and vice versa.
Another reason which isn’t as sentimental as the other one is that each horse is unique, and it is good to have a dynamic riding experience because it will help you improve in terms of versatility, consistency, and overall horse riding expertise.
If there are professional equestrians and newbies, then the same can be said about our equine friends. If veteran horses can teach newbies, then the opposite can be true as well. Suppose that your horse is not as experienced as you are, and doesn’t have a diverse experience yet. Perhaps it is you who can teach your equine companion about better riding techniques.
Remember, horse riding is where the equestrian and the horse becomes one. If your equine friend is doing her part, then you, as the rider and the captain, should do whatever you can on your end as well.