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Your First Ride Page 4

walk the horse around a penYou will first be walked around a circle. Your job will be to learn how to keep your balance in the saddle while you learn the “feel of the horse” as he moves. If you ever feel like you are very off balance, hold the saddle horn with one hand to steady yourself. Never use the reins as a way to “hang on”, by pulling on the reins you are telling the horse to wither turn or stop. If you feel as though you might be slipping off of the saddle grab the saddle horn, never the reins, never use the reins to stop yourself from sliding or falling out of the saddle-this could injure your horse or yourself.

Many first time riders stiffen up while they are trying to figure out how to keep their balance and how their body is supposed to move “with” the horse. This will actually make your ride more difficult. Try to stay calm. When you feel overwhelmed, let the instructor take control and relax. It is just as important for you to learn to move with the rhythm of the horse which can be done just by remaining loose. Once you gain some confidence, this will come more naturally.

sitting in the saddle with confidenceOnce you have shown enough confidence in the saddle and keeping your balance, your instructor will begin showing you how you can use basic commands. These commands will help keep your horse moving forward.

When your instructor sees that you have learned the basics in sitting in the saddle properly and using your aids correctly, the instructor will allow you off the lead line – this is where your adventure truly begins, where the bond between you and your horse will become strongest.

The goal of your first ride without the lead line will be to make your horse walk and stop. This is not as easy as it sounds. The aim will be to make your horse walk purposely with energy and then to halt when you tell them to do so. The horse or pony should be balanced, alert and responsive to your commands at all times.

Walking and Halting Your Horse

  1. To ask a horse to walk, sit up straight and move your weight forward. Squeeze your horse's sides with your lower legs behind the horse's girth. This will be his cue to move forward.

  2. To halt, sit down deep in the saddle, and lean your weight backward slightly and gently pull back on your reins. To stop the horse from moving forward, resist the movement with your hands and the reins.

  3. Try to get the horse to halt squarely. To do a square halt, sit deep in the saddle with your horse's front and hind legs in line. Lean your weight backward slightly and gently hold back on the reins. The horse is standing still but it should be full of contained energy, ready to set off again. Although you have stopped, do not completely relax your position. Maintain contact with your legs and hands to keep the horse or pony alert.

  4. To move into a walk again, press your legs more firmly into the horse's or pony's sides and relax the reins a little to allow the horse to walk forward. Then relax your aids, but maintain contact with the horse.

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