Horse riding can be a great joy, terrific exercise and lots of fun. Don’t be deterred by the fact that you live a very busy life. You can learn the basics in a weekend. Once you’ve mastered those, then there is no limit to what you can achieve. And you’re never too old – or too young – to learn to ride.
Start by seeking expert advice, so you choose the best riding school, with good instructors and suitable horses.
Look for one providing high standards of instruction in horsemastership from qualified, experienced teachers. It should have a pleasant atmosphere, well organised routine and healthy, willing horses with well-shod feet.
If you don’t know where to start, contact the Association of British Riding Schools (http://www.abrs-info.org/). They cover the whole of the UK and also list approved centres in Ireland, the Channel Isles, France, Latvia, Portugal and Spain.
Before you turn up for your first lesson, seek advice on what to wear to be safe and comfortable in the saddle.
At the riding school, the key to making the best possible start is choosing right the right horse to be your “teacher.”
Take the advice of your instructor when you select the horse on which you will learn to ride. Good horses make good riders – but beware of the advanced, highly-trained or very sensitive horse. They are unlikely to suit a beginner, whose balance and position in the saddle and mastery of the aids is not developed.
Any involuntary or clumsy movement could confuse and upset your horse, and provoke a reaction that might lead to loss of control and an accident. A horse of suitable size, which has had sound basic training is ideal. For a new rider to develop that all-important confidence, it is also essential that the horse has a willing yet quiet temperament and is experienced with beginners. A small, light rider on a large horse will find it difficult to control. And if the rider is too tall, so his or her feet dangle down from the horse’s body, or is too heavy, this can upset the horse’s balance or natural action. The best horse for a beginner has a placid, co-operative nature and takes smooth paces.
Part of the fascination of riding is that you never stop learning. Every horse has a different character and ability – and you will learn something new from each one