Words By Trip.101
Top tips for a first time horse rider!
The Ural Mountains tower over Russia and Kazakhstan, and they’re one of the most incredible locations in the region. There are so many ways to experience the Urals – hiking, motorcycle and side car tours, and rafting are just a few of the ways that you can make incredible memories here. One of the best ways to see the Urals though is on horseback. But what happens if you’ve never ridden a horse before?
Well, first of all don’t let that put you off. We’ve made this blog post to give you some top tips for first time horse riders. It’ll make your excursion comfortable, fun, and memorable. For all the right reasons!
Listen to your guide and don’t be afraid to ask them questions
The first step (well the first couple of steps really) should be addressed before you even meet your horse. If you have never ridden a horse before, it can be a nerve-wracking and intimidating experience – both for beast and rider. A good guide will explain all the steps below and more before you mount your animal, and they’ll try and make the ride go without a hitch. So, it’s important that you listen to them! Even if horse riding seems easy to you (spoiler alert, it isn’t at first), don’t assume you know it all already!
Remember, to have the best experience both you and your horse need to feel comfortable and safe. So, no question is a silly question!
Dress the right way
As we’ve said before, both you and the horse need to feel comfortable. But let’s focus on how to get you comfortable first. Yes, perhaps when you’re out it’s going to be sunny and you’ll be hot and sweaty. However, as tempting as it may be to wear open toed shoes and shorts to keep you cool, those are both terrible ideas! Wearing long pants may seem like a task, but you’ll be thanking your stars later when you haven’t suffered chafing for the whole day! Likewise, you want to wear closed shoes (with a heel if possible) to protect your feet from slipping out of the stirrups.
Also, don’t wear anything that could get caught on equipment or passing branches. Scarves, dangling earrings, and loose items such as purses and bags are a no no. Keep everything in a small bag if you really need it! And last but definitely not least, you need a helmet. Even a bicycle helmet is better than nothing!
Approach your horse
So, now we’ve got the preparation out of the way, it’s time to get to know your horse. Remember, horses can be skittish and nervous, and you want to get your experience off to the right start. Rather than approaching your horse in a straight line, walk around in an arc to its left side. Don’t look at it directly in the eye as it may feel intimidated.
Once you’ve got close enough to your horse, offer up the back of your hand. Don’t worry, nothing bad is going to happen! The horse just wants to sniff it to check you’re alright. When it touches your hand with its nose, that’s implied permission that you can mount. And now you know the horseman’s handshake!
Mount with confidence
Like we pointed out, your horse may be nervous. You may be nervous too, but you need to hide this from the horse. Especially when you’re mounting it! Try and mount the horse as smoothly as confidently as possible. This may sound terrifying, but don’t worry. Your guide knows you’re a beginner! So, they’ll be happy to help you.
Relax and sit up straight
Now that you’ve mounted your horse, you need to know the right posture for riding your horse. Have you ever watched horse riding? Think about the British Grand National, or the American Kentucky Rider. You see riders bent over the horse trying to make it go as fast as possible. Well, don’t do that!
The best way is to sit up straight and tall with your feet in each stirrup. This will make sure that your weight is distributed evenly and equally across the horse, so it’s not carrying a heavy load. It will also be the most comfortable position for you!
Be gentle with the horse’s reins
You won’t be comfortably and firmly seated just from putting your feet in the stirrups. You need to be holding onto something too – and that’s the reins! Depending on whether you practice English or Western riding, there’ll be different techniques to learn. However, one thing is consistent across both styles. Be gentle with your horse!
To turn left, make a motion towards the left as if you’re opening a door. Do the same when you want to turn right. You should never have your reins above your shoulders, as this will hurt its mouth. When you need to slow, gently pull back and dig your heels in.
Know your limits
Everything written above may sound easy and like common sense to you. If so, that’s great. If not, don’t feel bad! Everyone learns at a different speed. And horses go at a different speed! The main four are walk, trot, canter, and gallop. If you don’t get above a walk in your first lesson, that’s fine! It’s better to enjoy the ride and go at your own pace, as it’s more likely you’ll come back for a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th ride.
Also, when booking your first horse riding trip, think carefully about how long you want to be on the horse. A whole day may sound fun, but your legs will feel like jelly afterwards!
Now that you know exactly how to ride your horse…
How about booking that trip and putting what you’ve learned to the test? URAL Expeditions & Tours offer horse riding tours of the mountains, as well as a number of other tours and expeditions that will introduce you to this fabulous part of Russia.