Horse Riding Tips For Beginners

By David · No Comments »

In this blog I hope to provide some useful horse riding tips for beginners. I have been watching and supporting my daughter Katie as she has taken up a pastime that will last a lifetime. It seems like just a few short months ago that she was an absolute beginner sitting astride a huge horse (well OK quite a small pony) and then being taken on a tour of the yard on a lead rein – fast forward some 9 years now she independently goes out on a handsome chestnut called Blarney galloping across the countryside! I think the appeal is that not only is riding a graceful and enjoyable activity but it is also a valuable form of exercise and recreation. For many it goes far beyond a hobby and becomes an art and a sport and it introduces it's students to the importance of animal welfare and husbandry.

Ultimately horse riding is learnt by "doing" under tuition – and if done correctly it is an absolute joy and will provide a lifetime's pleasure but when done incorrectly it is both tiresome and uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. But by providing you with some information to enjoy in-between your riding lessons, I hope that your learning progression can be fast tracked a little – if nothing else you might be able to learn from some of our mistakes or simply save on some of the time we took to find the right combination of tuition and facilities.

Our journey together has taken us through a number of riding schools and loan horse arrangements and through this blog I hope to share some of the tips katie and I have picked up along the way. Most people aspire to be a skilled rider, i.e. someone who has learnt and absorbed the rules and principles of riding to such an extent that they have become sub-conscious and they can control the horse without a second thought – and with that degree of mastery you have the ability to do naturally everything that makes horseriding both a graceful and delightful exercise. Katie is getting there but remember – absolutely everyone starts out as a beginner – all fingers and thumbs, awkward, self confident and frankly hopeless (no not you Katie obviously!) – watch any equestrian champion – even Olympic champions  and be assured that once they were a beginner – perhaps just like you – but do remember there never was a winner that didn't start out as a beginner!

Enjoy the ride! David

Children’s Horse Riding Helmets

By David · No Comments »

No helmet, no children’s horseback riding – it’s as simple as that. Both riding
instructors and parents of riding students should make this a
non-negotiable requirement before any rider places a foot in a stirrup.
Riding is an inherently dangerous sport, made less so through proper
instruction on well-trained horses in safe riding facilities, but some
level of potential hazard always exists regardless of such
safeguards. Instructors and parents are obliged to mitigate this risk
by providing their student riders with safety equipment, the most
important of which is a safety-certified, properly fitting riding
helmet.

It is important to understand that riding helmets, no matter how well
made, tested, or fitted, cannot protect against all head injuries. At
best they will prevent minor to moderate impact injuries and help
reduce severe injuries, but no helmet is guaranteed to prevent head
injuries altogether. Helmets offer limited protection only to the parts
of the head directly covered by the helmet.

Standards for riding helmet safety vary from country to country, with
the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand generally utilizing the most
stringent safety testing standards. The United Kingdom and Europe also
set specific safety standards and testing requirements for riding
helmets. Among the safety certifications found on qualified helmets
include ASTM F1163-04a/SEI in the U.S., AS/NZ 3838:2006 in Australia
and New Zealand, EN 1384 and PAS 015 in the U.K., and EN 1384 and EN
14572 in Europe.

Riding helmets are generally constructed of lightweight,
impact-resistant resin or plastic in various colors with
shock-absorbing inner foam. Some are designed with an open ponytail
notch in the back. A non-removable, adjustable chinstrap or harness
holds the helmet firmly in place on the rider’s head and must always be
worn. Air vents in many models help cool the rider’s head. Some helmets
also provide washable, antimicrobial, and/or removable headliners.
Suede or velveteen covers are available to take schooling helmets into
the show ring. Water repellent covers may also be available for
foul-weather riding.

Riding helmets for most hunter/jumper activities have brims, while
brimless helmets called skull caps are generally worn for cross-country
jumping. Some helmets have removable brims, and some skull caps come
with fabric covers with false brims, both of which are suitable for
eventing in which both cross-country and stadium jumping are required.

Helmet size is determined by measuring the circumference of the rider’s
head directly above the brow line around the largest part of the head.
A properly fitted helmet will not move when the rider shakes the head
from front to back and side to side, though it should not be so snug as
to cause a mark on the head or any significant physical discomfort.
Dial adjustments or sizing pads are available in most riding helmets to
provide a snug fit.

The outer shell of a riding helmet may be weakened by various
substances, so nothing should be applied to the exterior of a helmet
unless specifically approved by the manufacturer. Children’s horseback riding helmets should
always be replaced immediately following an impact, or after 3-5 years
without an impact.

Based on my own experience as a parent and my daughter taking up horse riding lessons I’ve put some more information into a free, easy to read report which you can enjoy today with my compliments! – Just Click Here!

Horse Riding Lesson Costs

By David · No Comments »

Starting a child in horse riding lessons can be a financially daunting task from the start – but take heart, by not owning your own four-legged friend, you will be netting some serious cost savings up front.

Understanding riding-related costs and their need will help you make informed decisions as your child embarks on their riding career.

Frequently, costs can be categorized:
• learning-related,
• equipment-related,
• subscriptions and membership fees
• leasing/ownership-related.

Learning-related expenses

These usually involve lesson costs. For novice “horse parents” the expense of riding lessons may seem high compared to your child’s other chosen recreational activities – but lets a minute to analyze what’s your getting for your money: Firstly, you are paying for an instructor’s time, knowledge and experience. Secondly, there is the horse involved in lessons which requires food, shelter, routine veterinary and blacksmith care. Thirdly a facility is required to host lessons and care and maintenance of the property is not a cheap endeavor. Additionally, the instructor or school will be required to cover the cost of insurance and provide suitable equipment to teach lessons including tack, artificial aids and even jumps. All of these costs quickly add up and contribute to the cost of lessons. However please, do not always assume that high costs translate into quality – take the time to visit a riding school and meet with instructors prior to committing to lessons.

Initial equipment-related

These costs for a budding equestrian include safety apparel including an approved helmet and suitable footwear. Occasionally, gloves and riding pants (referred to as breeches or jodhpurs) and sometimes a safety vest will be requested by your child’s instructor. While sharing equipment may seem like a good way to save on these upfront costs, please, resist the temptation. In order to function properly and afford maximum safety, your child’s equipment should be properly fitted. Helmets should always be purchased new, and replaced if a head related impact occurs. All other items can be purchased used if in good working condition. Good quality equipment, if properly cared for will last until your child outgrows their current sizes.

As your child progresses, there may be a need to purchase a saddle or other pieces of equipment. This will come in time and follow extensive discussions with your child’s trainer. Please, take to heart to any safety recommendations made by your child’s trainer and put the wellbeing of your child ahead of any financial reservations.

Subscriptions and membership fees

Subscription and memberships can be an occasional part of riding. If your child opts to join Pony Club, or a similar organization, there may be a small membership fee to cover related costs.

leasing/ownership-related

As your child progresses, leasing or ownership will come with a complete set of financial responsibilities outlined with many of the aforementioned costs that go into lessons. We’ll talk much more about leasing and loan horses in a later article

Conclusion

Costs are often one of the biggest reasons parents hesitate to start their children in horse riding lessons. Rest assured, aside from initial equipment purchases they really are controllable and additionally, if your child is willing to work hard and learn, eventually, they may be able to help out at the yard and earn some additional riding time. Opportunities will certainly vary by yard, instructor and even child, but many an international equestrian star gained their start through hard work, commitment and dedication.

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Horse Riding Skills – What Are The Different Disciplines?

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Within the overall heading of ‘horse riding’ there are different ‘disciplines’ or ‘types’ of riding, each of which represent a different aspect of horse riding skills.

For many, the two most common styles of riding are ‘English’ and ‘Western’ – the latter being particularly popular in the USA and easily identified to spectators by the type of saddle used ( the Western Saddle is larger and deeper).

The English discipline also features some lesser known styles of riding including saddle seat and side saddle.

Followers of horse riding competitions will be well acquainted with the disciplines of Dressage, Show Jumping and Three Day Eventing  (a combination of dressage, cross country and stadium/show jumping).

In reality most children will either start off with learning English or Western style riding, but understanding the basis or the rudimentary foundation for each of the disciplines will give you a broader understanding of the sport and help you understand how the sport could develop for your child.

So for your information, let’s take a look at the three main competitive horse riding disciplines:

Dressage: Considered the ballet of equestrian sports, the term dressage comes from the French and roughly translates to training. Horses and riders school in a series of movements and techniques that ultimately are put together into a workable routine referred to as a test. Early levels focus on basic skills whereas tests at the highest level, including Grand Prix, feature awe inspiring advanced movements including the piaff, passage and extremely collected gaits.

Show Jumping: Most equestrian spectators are familiar with show jumping. Here riders and their equine partners are faced with a course of jumps which vary in height, scope and difficulty, depending on the level of partnership tackling the course. At low levels, riders will navigate simple courses of cross-rails. International level riders and their mounts are faced with large and challenging obstacles, with rails set on flat or shallow jump cups, and encouraged to complete the course within an optimal time limit. Penalties will be assessed for dropped rails or exceeding the posted time allowed.

Three Day Eventing: Three Day Eventing is designed to test the fitness, finesse and overall athletic ability of horse and rider partnerships. Featuring a combination of phases including the technical precision of dressage, followed by a fast-paced and physically demanding trip cross-country over natural obstacles and finalized with a final test over a course of show jumping obstacles, eventing comes from cavalry exercises of days gone by. The combination of horse and rider is constant for the three phases of the event and horses must pass soundness tests at the start and throughout the course of the competition. Varied levels of competition are available to participants ranging from novice through international four star events.

Anyway that is all some time away but it’s good to think big and who knows where your child’s horse riding skills could end up! Meanwhile when starting your child in riding lessons, it is worth spending time finding a school and trainer that will provide a good foundation of the basics. While your child may have a preference for one discipline over another in time, a broad based beginning in the saddle, concentrated on position and technique will be the best way to start riding. In time, picking up a discipline will be easier with a mastery of the basics. The only deviation from this advice is if your child is interested in riding Western. Here, it would be advisable to locate a school that offers Western lessons, as the style of riding is so markedly different from English.

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Finding a Childrens Horse Riding Instructor

By David · No Comments »

Selecting a horse riding instructor can be as challenging as picking the riding establishment for your child’s first lessons – although in many some instances, when the school is owned by the trainer, your selection will be one and the same.

Key points to consider when calling around for lessons should include:

Instructor’s background

Instructor’s experience with beginners

Instructor’s personality

With a list of prospective teachers in hand, ask about site visits and watching a lesson. Bring your child with you and gauge their interaction with the prospective instructor. Remember, instructors have good days and bad. If you had a positive impression of a trainer when speaking by phone, and were less than pleased during your site visit, consider scheduling a second appointment on a different day and time. No matter what, follow your gut instincts as this individual is going to be entrusted with the care and safety of your child as they learn to ride.

Background is one of the most important aspects an instructor brings to the ring. Some trainers will have extensive show records while others may have a strong educational background in riding and training and both are equally important. Many trainers have been riding since before they could walk and could teach their lessons in their sleep. Ideally, you want someone teaching lessons who draws on a wealth of experience and is passionate about their chosen profession. A 15-year old, posing as an instructor, handling beginner lessons is not the way to go. Also, many professional instructors only teach part-time as a way to support their own horse habit. Rest assured these individuals are no less qualified than a full-time instructor.

Experience plays an important role in the ability to teach students. When selecting a trainer, you should look for someone with years of experience starting beginners in the saddle. These professionals will be well versed with knowledge, exercises and the patience to help your child grow as an equestrian. Unfortunately, there is no one set of criteria that determines if someone will be a mediocre, good or great instructor. Working with beginner riders requires a special skill set, never mind patience so look for a seasoned professional to start your child.

Instructor personality is the third thing you should take into consideration when looking for a trainer. If your child is shy and timid, a quiet and supportive teacher may be the best approach. For a more outgoing child, a lively and vibrant trainer may offer the best fit. As with any sport, on any given day, teacher/student pairings are not always in synch. Working to determine the optimal pairing upfront, can lead to success in the ring and fostering your child’s desire to learn.

Choosing a childrens horse riding instructor can be one of the most challenging aspects of getting them started in the sport. While many trainer/student relationships do stand the test of time, take comfort that you are not making a lifelong partnership. If in time, you find the trainer is not working well with your child or helping achieve goals, feel free to move on to another barn or instructor. The goal of riding is to safely enjoy time with horses. It is incumbent on the selected instructor to teach your child to respect and enjoy their four-legged partners. The field is ripe with skilled, dedicated and qualified professionals, good luck in your search!

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Children’s Horse Riding – How Can Parents Help?

By David · No Comments »

Parents, in an attempt to support their child(ren) in learning to ride, often wonder about the need to develop and hone their own skill sets and techniques. Rest assured this is not a requirement in supporting your offspring’s newest hobby. As your child embraces the finer points of horseback riding, spending time being an active listener, ardent supporter and simply freely giving your time will provide the best foundation for your child. Adapting these helpful behaviors will replace the need for any technical skills and knowledge.

In order to reap the most benefit from your child’s lessons spend time observing their classes and actively listening to the teachings. Horseback riding is an extremely technical and physically demanding sport. More likely than not, your child will be working extremely hard to take in information and put the tips/directions to good use. Unfortunately, with a flurry of instruction, your child may only hone in on one or two things at a time, missing some of the other directives. It is here, being a good listener will come into play. After the lesson, when your child recounts their time in the saddle, you can help reinforce the teachings by discussing the instructions and finer points that may have been inadvertently overlooked. The ability for your child to get an outsider’s opinion and assessment of their lesson will help them correctly revisit the lesson teachings.

The physical, emotional and psychological aspects of riding can be hard on the sport’s youngest participants. As such, being a staunch supporter and cheerleader will be the best way to help your child learn. If your child takes a fall or has a less than productive lesson, endeavor to help your child through the rough spots. For some a hug will do, others will want to talk about their lesson, while still others students opt for quiet to reflect on their experience. No matter what, words of encouragement can have a profound effect on your child and how they deal with a similar situation in the future. Recognizing and praising good lesson days is equally important as a supporter. The ability to build off of a break-through lesson, where a new skill or technique is mastered, helps prepare your child to ready for future classes.

Freely giving your time is one of the best ways to support your child’s desire to grow as an equestrian. For many parents, spending time at the barn can be a rewarding experience. Wanting to learn about horses, their care and upkeep will help keep you involved in your child’s sport. If you have previous horse-related experience, this may be a way to revisit happy memories; if new to the sport, be prepared to ask lots of questions and learn.

For parents who are keen on learning the finer nuances of riding, there is no better way than to schedule a lesson. Here, you will be introduced to many of the same experiences as your child and able to work with an instructor and develop your own skill set. You are never too old to learn how to ride. Take heart, developing your own set of techniques is not a requirement for your child learning to ride.

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Children’s Horse Riding – How Quickly Will They Learn The Basics?

By David · No Comments »

For parents of novice level riders, thoughts commonly turn to the degree of difficulty associated with mastering the basics of children’s horse riding.

Unfortunately, as with so many other aspects of riding, the answer is “it depends on your child.” A combination of age, selected instructor, ability to practice and confidence levels will all contribute to your child’s speed of learning. Additionally, equestrian sports demand a combination of mental and physical readiness from participants.

Age will be one of the largest drivers for how rapidly your child will learn to ride. Younger children, while physically more flexible and nimble, may struggle with high levels of instruction. This is not to say the young cannot learn, on the contrary, the repetition required to instill lessons may make them more proficient in the long run. Older children often balance the challenges of learning to ride faster than their younger counterparts given the ability to receive and respond to instructor directives. Additionally, being more mature and developed, older children often find the physical demands of riding to be easier.

The quality of the instructor charged with teaching your child may be one of the leading indicators of how difficult learning to ride will be! The ability to clearly deliver instructions and expectations, coupled with the talent to innately understand their students will contribute to your child’s ability to grasp theory and technique. Skilled trainers offer a wealth of knowledge to help reach their students more rapidly than a less seasoned professional. Rapport between teacher and student will play a large part in the desire to master horseback riding.

Finding the time and resources to practice are important. Equestrians with access to practice sessions will most certainly advance faster than their peers limited to lessons. For students looking to advance their skills, without practice sessions, off horse exercises can help build correct muscular development. Being fit is always an added advantage when learning to ride and facilitates the process.

Confidence and a willingness to progress offer insight into the speed in which your child will learn to ride. Timid, fearful students often struggle to master the basics. Riding is not for everyone, and if your child is getting less from their lessons than anticipated, or do not seem to be making progress in line with their peers, parents should discuss concerns with the instructor. Oftentimes, a simple conversation between trainer and rider can get things back on track.

From the very first lesson, often held at the end of a lunge line on the back of a trusty mount to the first jump, experienced with a favorite lesson horse, to the smell of victory from the ring at the first show, riding is an ongoing learning process. Parents will quickly watch their child progress from leadline to beginner level lessons. In due time, visible progress will slow as your child begins to master more complicated theory and techniques. Rest assured, your child is still learning, just at a different pace. The ability to steer, stop and walk require much less knowledge and fitness than jumping a course of fences.

Above all else though with children’s horse riding,is that the happiness that comes from lessons, along with feedback from your child’s instructors are the best indicators of how well your child is learning to ride, which should address the broader difficulties of their mastery of the sport.

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Where to learn to ride a horse

By David · No Comments »

Determining where your child should learn to ride a horse is probably one of the biggest struggles you have as a parent.

What is the most suitable riding school to go to? Will your child be safe?  Will they be challenged and is the staff skilled? These are all likely thoughts to be running through your mind – and let’s be honest, you may have given a bit of consideration to the cost and time investment. All are very valid points to be evaluated when determining where your child should learn to ride.

Depending on your location, accreditation by a national organization is usually the best way to guarantee a set of standards are being upheld – especially in North America and the UK – after all, riding is a complex sport that requires unique attention to facilities, animals and instruction. Do not be afraid to solicit opinions from friends and acquaintances as this can be the best way to select a quality facility.

Establish a set of criteria prior to committing to a riding school. Things to consider include do they cater especially for children? Do they offer lessons to students who do not own their own horse or pony? Are the instructors skilled in starting rank beginners? What sort of time commitment and involvement is expected? By this last point I mean will your child be expected to help tack-up and put their mount away or will they only have to arrive there for the ride?

After phoning around to various prospective stables, make a plan to visit the ones that met your criteria. Call ahead to ensure that a visit is acceptable and schedule the tour when a lesson comparable to one your child would be joining is planned. If it is a smaller barn, understand that you may need to wait until well after the lesson (and the horse or pony has been cared for) to approach the instructor with any questions.

Ultimately, you want to find a facility that caters to beginners, has a safe string of lesson horses and seems like a warm, welcoming learning environment. Rest assured, barn choices are not permanent decisions. If your child advances beyond their instructor’s teachings, a trainer leaves the barn or simply you find reason to be dissatisfied with your original selection, all are valid reasons to search out another location.

As the saying goes, location is everything. Hopefully, you are able to find a stable that meets your criteria close to home. If not, make sure to plan accordingly for drive time, lesson and related time at the barn, exhaustion levels and homework. Riding will likely take a toll on your child at first. Plan accordingly for ample rest and relaxation time in addition to getting homework completed.

Lastly, given the information presented above, when considering where to learn to ride a horse,  we have to recommend you avoid the offer from the neighbor down the street to teach your child to ride. While paying them a visit for a ride or two, with a few lessons under your child’s belt, would be a fun outing, leave the lessons to the tried and true professionals.

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Learn To Ride A Horse – How Long Does It Take?

By David · No Comments »

With the investment made in riding lessons, equipment and related expenses, parents often wonder how long it will take their child to learn to ride a horse.

The most honest answer to the question is that an actual mastery of the sport occurs over the course of a lifetime. Riders will learn from their instructors, horses and peers. The short answer to the question depends on a combination of the following criteria including the ability to respond to coaching, individual talent, rider confidence and desired level of proficiency. Through a combination of lessons, time spent around horses and simple off-horse exercises your child will be actively learning how to ride.

A rider’s ability to respond to coaching is one of the first key benchmarks in learning to ride. With a myriad of directions and instructions regarding position, technique and control, riders often feel overwhelmed at the onset. However, before they are aware, your child will subconsciously be responding to many of the initial directives without a fleeing thought. Soon, your child’s instructor will be focusing on new techniques as they progress to the next level of accomplishment. While initial lessons will be held on the lunge line, your child will quickly progress to private lessons and ultimately a group situation. Through these steps you can safely say, your child is learning to ride.

Ultimately, you should recognize as with so many other things in life that riders progress at their own levels. It is important to realize that proficiency in the saddle comes from a combination of lessons, practice and experience.

Horses and ponies are excellent teachers and equally important as a trainer in your child’s progress as an equestrian. From the first lesson where your child will hopefully be introduced to a steady trustworthy mount, to later lessons on the horse that occasionally spooks, your child will be growing and learning from the unique traits, characteristics and behaviors presented by each equine partner. Each lesson brings your child one step closer to proficiency and mastery of riding.

Riders will also spend lessons learning from their peers. It is here instructors can help their students grow by using other riders and their mounts as examples. Witnessing correctly executed maneuvers and exercises often increases proficiency faster than instructions followed by a trial and error approach.

Learning to ride is typically hindered for new riders given their limited exposure to horses and ample practice time. For students looking to increase their proficiency under these limited circumstances, they should inquire to their trainer for off-horse exercises that will build muscle memory. These workouts, done away from the barn, will often increase proficiency in the saddle and help your child master riding faster than relying strictly on lessons.

The amount of time required to learn to ride is something extremely difficult to quantify as mastery occurs at different levels for all riders. Instead, parents should look to the level of satisfaction your child is getting from the sport as a benchmark of performance. It is here you can see the value of lessons and your child’s individual progress and success.

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Horseback Riding Lessons – What To Look For When Your Child Starts To Ride

By David · No Comments »

The question of how someone will learn to ride is a common request from parents, and even children wonder what to expect from early horseback riding lessons. While there is no one fixed answer to the question, the stable, instructor and horse or pony used for lessons are common benchmarks in the learning process. Most industry professionals agree that under ideal circumstances, children should be started in a private lesson setting to develop their skills in a watchful environment.

Depending on facility selected, they will likely have their own curriculum or preferred method of starting new riders. More often than not, your child will start their first lesson greeting a fully tacked up mount, in the ring, under the guidance of their instructor. After suitable introductions, instructions for mounting will be provided. From here, your child can expect to receive a series of detailed instructions regarding position, control and feel. The first few lessons are typically conducted on a lunge line which affords the instructor control over your child’s mount allowing your child the ability to focus on the directions at hand. Following the lesson, dismounting instructions will be provided. A basic mastery of steering should see riders progress off the lunge line.

Instructors are the biggest variable in how anyone learns to ride. Each trainer brings a unique set of experiences, exercises and method of teaching to the ring. The information transfer from teacher to student is the ultimate goal and no two instructors offer the same method of training. In early lessons, an instructor will spend time working on position, feel and skills; more advanced lessons often find trainers fine tuning advanced techniques and movements with students. Instructors will spend lessons observing and commenting on your child’s progress. In a healthy learning environment, parents can expect an open dialogue between trainer and student. Use the first few lessons as an opportunity to get a feel for the instructor and their methods for teaching. As your child progresses, feel free to ask your trainer about expectations and preferences including tacking up, warming up and general preparedness for lessons.

The horse or pony selected for your child’s first few lessons will determine how your child will learn to ride. Ideally, depending on your child’s age and size, they will be appropriately paired with a suitable mount. A trustworthy bomb-proof horse or pony is the best option for a new rider. Here your child can focus on instructions and trust their equine partner will respond as requested. Unfortunately, bomb-proof mounts can also pose their own challenges in that your child may work a bit harder to get the desired result. Rest assured, this is normal and will build your child’s resolve as a skilled equestrian. Lessons on highly strung mounts should be avoided whenever possible. Learning to ride has enough challenges; dealing with a problematic mount should not be one of them.

Your learning to ride will depend on the selected farm, instructor and equine partner. Rarely do two riders ever receive the same exact instruction on how to ride. As such, as a parent, select a credible and safe facility with skilled instructors and seasoned horses. From here, trust that the horseback riding instructors will help your child receive a safe start in the sport by providing ample guidance.

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Horse Riding Confidence – Building Confidence In Beginner Horse Riders

By David · No Comments »

Rider confidence is one of the biggest challenges facing to riding instructors. A qualified trainer will offer their students exercises, activities and explanations to encourage and promote confidence. Many riders are inexperienced and require assistance to bolster confidence levels. In contrast, overconfident students often require attention to promote the safety and well-being of horse and rider. Given the individual nature of rider confidence, this will be one of the biggest tests of your child’s instructor.

Unfortunately, confidence issues vary from rider to rider and the issues that cause concern for one equestrian may never illicit a second look from another. Confidence issues in riders typically manifests as fear or overconfidence and it is incumbent on your child’s instructor to get to the root of the problem. Both present their own set of dangers and should be addressed as soon as possible.

For the timid or scared equestrian, one of the best ways for an instructor to tackle these issues is through listening, observation and planned exercises. By listening to a rider’s expressed concerns, instructors can often pinpoint the issue challenging progression. Additionally, based on experience, a seasoned instructor can often probe deeper or think through the discussion to get to the root of the problem.

Through confidence building exercises that encourage progression and repetitive activities, an instructor is often able to help their students conquer their fears. Occasionally, riders are unsure what causes their underlying fears; here, an instructor should use keen observation to tackle confidence issues.

In contrast to the scared rider, with overconfident students, instructors need to develop activities to slow their students down slightly. Here, further discussion about safety and best practices often helps convey the importance of riding prudently.

In addition to targeted exercises, activities can be beneficial to addressing and tackling individual confidence issues. For many riders, getting ample time and exposure to horses is the best way to conquer underlying issues. Spending time in the barn grooming, tacking up and helping turn horses in or out can all be confidence building activities.

Yes, horses and ponies can be intimidating given their size and demeanor. Instructors will often offer supervised activities as a confidence building exercise for their students. All riders benefit from time spent on the ground working around their equine partners, and parents would be wise to accept the offer whenever presented.

Exercises, activities and explanations are all key in addressing rider confidence. For many students, simply understanding the theory or reasoning behind techniques is the impetus needed to bypass underlying fears and concerns. Far too often, students are provided with directives lacking explanation which stunts progress.

Confidence issues should be addressed on a case by case basis and as quickly as possible. Horse selection plays an important role in developing and promoting rider confidence. However, occasionally the horse being used may be part of the issue at hand. Instructors will address individual confidence issues through observation, exercises and occasionally pushing their riders to succeed and achieve.

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