Your First Ride
Before you can handle and ride your new horse or pony, you should, first, learn a little about them. Horses and ponies are gentle yet nervous animals and are happiest in a group which is called a “herd”. There will always be a “lead” horse in every herd; this horse is called the Alpha Horse. Horses living in a herd will, by nature, follow the alpha horse; this is why you will need to learn how to become a “leader” for your horse so he/she will follow you directions. When we domesticate them, we take on the role of the Alpha Horse. Once you have gained the trust of your horse, they will do as you ask, follow you any place you like and take care of you as if they have known you their entire life.
It is natural to be nervous or even a bit scared when you are around horses for the first few times. This is the perfect time to get to know the horse you will be working with or riding but ALWAYS remember-anything you do with or around horses, be sure to have an adult with you who is used to riding and handling horses to show you the basics.
Approach your horse with confidence, hold your head and shoulders high, take a deep breath and remember to talk to your horse at all times in a very calming manner, especially when approaching, so he/she will know just where you are. If something frightens them, their first instinct is to run away which can end up causing injury to yourself or your horse. You may think about offering your horse a treat such as fresh cubed apples or carrots that have been cut into bite size pieces. Place any treats into a bucket and let the horse take them that way. Never offer them out of your hand until you have spent more time with your horse and have been shown how to properly offer treats without having your fingers being mistaken as part of the “goodies”. The easiest way to calm a horse and let him/her know that you mean them no harm is by petting them gently on the neck and remember, your VOICE is the best way to gain your new horse’s trust. By talking in a low, calm manner, you will quickly gain confidence in your ability as your horse responds to you.
But for now, you need to learn how to lead your horse.
You lead a horse or a pony on its left side as this is the side most horses have been trained from. Hold the lead rope or reins in your right hand and the rest of the rope or reins in your left hand. Never wrap it around your hand or any part of your body, this could end up causing harm.