What to Expect in Beginner Horse Riding Lessons

By: Issam Halabi


One cannot simply jump onto a horse for the first time and gallop away into the sunset—at least not without injury. Horse riding lessons are required for a person to build up the skill and the confidence necessary to become a truly good rider. In order to learn any higher skills, whether it be show jumping or barrel racing, a solid foundation is required. Beginner riding lessons are designed to teach new riders balance, basic skills and confidence.
Balance is a fundamental element required in learning to ride a horse. Without a good seat, further skills cannot be developed. In learning to balance on a horse, one will learn to move with the horse instead of against it. The natural reaction is to brace one’s self and tense their muscles in response to a horse’s panic or even just the oddity of its movement underneath a person. This is a matter of time and practice. Often times, an instructor will lead or lunge a horse with a new student on its back. The rider can then take their hands off of the reins and saddle, release their stirrups and truly feel the horse’s movement. This is a technique which many trainers employ when working with those new to horse riding. Gripping the saddle is fine for pony rides, but in real riding, one needs to learn sooner rather than later how to balance without this safety blanket.
Basic skills which will be taught in beginner horse riding lessons include the obvious stopping, starting and turning. Skills quickly advance past these necessities to other required skills. Riders must learn to guide a horse with not only hands and reins, but legs as well. This guidance with the legs will be essential in more advanced levels to perform movements such as half passes, leg yielding and other sideways movements. Leg pressure is also necessary in learning to create bend in a horse—a rather fundamental principal. In beginner horse riding lessons, one will also be taught the basics of form which apply in most fields of riding. One must sit straight, neither slouching on the tailbone, nor perching forward. Legs should be stretched long, with heels down. Hands should be down, just off of the saddle, and elbows held close to the body. Eyes should always be up and looking where one wants their horse to go.
Confidence is a key factor in advancing beyond the basics. In beginner horse back riding lessons, one will learn to truly control a horse. Riders come away from these lessons with a sense of pride and confidence from the knowledge and skills they have gained.

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