Whether you lived in a city or simply haven’t had the pleasure of regularly interacting with horses, your first time riding one can be quite daunting. If you’re reading this, then there’s a big chance that you’re planning on dipping your toes into equestrianism (or horseback riding) for the first time, and it’s good that you have the foresight to look up safety tips. Most injuries from horseback riding are due to falling off of the horse, either due to losing control of the animal or simply failing to secure and balance yourself. Injuries can range from bruises to strains, and fractures, concussions, and dislocated joints.
So to prevent being part of an unfortunate statistic, you should take note of these tips before you even get on that horse for your first ride:
Research and Read Up
By reading this, you’re already one step closer to staying safe for your first ride. It’s important to do your research, particularly with the basics, starting with the dos and don’ts. There are hundreds of articles and videos on equestrianism to help you further increase your knowledge and preparedness. You should also be familiar with the important terminologies they use, such as with the horse tack (the set of equipment for horses) like the saddles, stirrups, horse bits, and other vocabulary that will be thrown around a lot. Even if you had guidance or training from a seasoned horseback rider before you get on your horse, it wouldn’t hurt to have some stock knowledge ready. Which also brings us to our next tip…
Get A Guide
If it’s your first time to get on a horse, make sure that you do so with an experienced guide. A good riding instructor won’t only ensure your safety, but also helps you easily learn the ropes and enjoy the experience quickly. You should never hesitate to voice out any issues with your guide, such as lose tacks, or if the horse feels like it’s starting to be aggressive or unruly. And speaking of tacks, have your instructor/guide inspect the tack before you get on.
Take it Slowly
For your first ride, you’re won’t only be learning the basics, but you’ll also be getting the hang of controlling and staying on your horse and also building trust with your steed. Imagine it just like riding a new car for the first time, it takes some time to get used to, and it’s best to go for short rides until you’re finally comfortable.
In line with the previous safety tip, the horse must be comfortable with you even before you get on it. If you’re uncomfortable with the horse, there’s a big chance that it would also be uncomfortable with you, which can spell disaster when you get on it. Your instructor would be able to help ‘bridge’ your relationship with your horse, but it’s still up to you to seal the deal. The most common way to do so would be by letting the horse smell your hand and then petting it gently, and bond before you hop on it.
Wear Proper Clothing
Make sure that you were a comfortable ensemble that covers your arms and legs and doesn’t restrict your movements. You should avoid loose or baggy clothing as they may get caught on branches when you’re riding, resulting in a fall. Riding boots are also essential, and should provide protection and traction to keep your feet and legs safe during the ride while also allowing you to have a better ‘grip’ on the saddles. Lastly, and most importantly, you should be wearing a well-fitted horseback riding helmet (or even just a multi-purpose one) to protect your head.
Riding a horse for the first time can be very intimidating, but by knowing the basics, wearing the proper attire, building a bond with your horse, and getting a reliable guide, you won’t only stay safe, but you’ll also discover that horseback riding can be a rewarding, unique, and fun activity.