There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man

Have you ever wanted to run faster than anyone else?  Ever wondered what it felt to fly?

With horseback riding, you can achieve those feelings – and more.  Riding a horse gives you a sense of freedom like no other sport.  It’s just you and your horse.  Riding helps build strength, agility, and overall physical fitness.  It can give you confidence and teach you patience.  Horses can also bring you closer to nature, from the thrill of communicating with another animal to a quiet trail ride where you might see deer and pheasant.

Watching someone ride a horse may seem very easy.  In fact, some of you may have already had some horseback riding experience – maybe pony rides at the Fair or trail rides on your vacation.  Probably all you had to do was sit in the saddle, kick to go and pull on the reins to stop, right?  WRONG!  The most important thing you’ll learn when you start to ride is that the safety and comfort of your horse comes first.  And that starts on the ground, learning how to safely catch, lead, groom and tack up your horse.

Learning to ride through lessons by a qualified instructor is great fun.  Instead of just riding in a circle or behind other horses, you’ll learn how to ask the horse to go where YOU want to go. You’ll learn how to ride at different speeds, called gaits, and how to ask the horse to go faster or slower.  And once you know the basics of riding, there’s so many fun sports to explore.  You can enjoy jumping fences with your horse or riding across country.  There’s beautiful dressage, which some people refer to as “dancing with your horse.”  There’s trail riding and barrel racing and lots and lots of fun games to play on horseback.  Have you ever done the egg and spoon race where you run and try not to let the egg drop off the spoon?  Now try it while riding your horse!  Halloween is always a fun time as many barns have parties where horses and riders dress up in costume. 

You’ll also learn what it takes to keep a horse happy and healthy.  You may be involved in feeding or cleaning your horse or holding it while the farrier works on his feet.  You may learn the different kinds of saddles and bits used on horses and how to clean and put them together.
But most of all, it’s about the riding and building a partnership with your horse.    Horses like all the attention they get from young riders and will always try to be on their best behavior.  There’s always something new to learn about riding so you’ll never be bored.  There’s nothing like hearing a horse whinny when he sees you coming down the barn aisle and knowing that you’re both going to have a fun time together!

Kelly O’Neill is owner of a boarding stable for retired show horses.  She has over 20 years of horse care expertise, with extensive experience in the care of the senior horse. Kelly has been a groom for two professional rider/trainers and has assisted in feeding, blanketing, turnout, medications and vet visits at several barns before opening one of her own in 1998. She now writes on her knowledge and love of horses for both fun and as the premiere writer for Classic Equine Equipment.

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