08 April 2020

Getting started – Horse riding

December 24, 2008

Fancy a new way to get out and enjoy your surroundings? Many of us love animals and would love to learn to ride, but perhaps feel that age, nerves or embarrassment are stopping us from booking that first lesson. Read Sportsister’s guide to getting you in the saddle.

The good news is that riding is an increasingly popular sport for both children and adults. Most reputable riding schools cater for adult beginners or those returning to the sport, having not ridden since childhood – you won’t have to ride with the kids!

There are riding schools situated all around the country and you may be surprised at how many are in cities and built up areas. Traditionally more women ride as a leisure activity than men, but interestingly it is the only international sport in which men and women compete together at an equal level. And if you’ve watched any of the top level events on TV, you would have realised that age is not a barrier either. 60 year olds compete with 18 year olds, and have just as much chance of winning!

Where to start

The best thing to do first is to book a lesson with a reputable riding school, preferably one that is British Horse Society approved, so that you know that the establishment is regularly checked for standards of safety and horse welfare. The instructors would also have recognised teaching qualifications. Check out the BHS website for a list of approved establishments in your area.

What to wear

Unfortunately lessons can be expensive, but luckily the kit you need when starting doesn’t have to be. Hard hats are a must, but are usually available for hire for around 50p per lesson.

A sturdy ankle boot with a small heel is the best kind of footwear to learn to ride in, and stretchy close fitting trousers are the most comfortable. Once you decide to have regular lessons, you might then want to consider purchasing jodhpurs and riding boots.

Gloves are also a ‘must have’ in cold weather. We all know how painful freezing cold hands can be! Gloves with a pimple palm grip are recommended, and are cheap and easy to get hold of.

Learn the basics

Riding schools will have horses and ponies that are well trained and suited to your ability, but bear in mind that all animals have minds of their own and can at times be unpredictable, therefore, riding is considered to be a high risk sport.

Your first lessons will take place in an enclosed arena. If you’re lucky and the weather’s bad, you may even get to ride inside! This way, you can practice and learn the basics in a safe environment. Don’t be put off if you ache for a few days afterwards. It is often said that when riding, you use muscles you never knew you had. Persevere, this will ease as your body gets used to the new sensation of being on a horse.

So why not give it a try? If you really get the bug there are so many great centres in the UK that specialise in riding holidays, catering for all abilities. And if you fancy going further a field, there are many exotic locations abroad too.

It’s great fun once you get the hang of it, and a great way to exercise and meet people. Riding out in the fresh air can be both relaxing, exhilarating, and a fantastic way to explore new surroundings.

Events to watch in 2009

7th-10th May: Badminton Horse Trials 2009 – one of the world’s most prestigious three day eventing horse trials

3rd-6th September: Burghley Horse Trials 2009 – another of the big name three day horse events in the UK, voted ‘Best Event’ by riders in 2008.

Useful websites

www.bhs.org.uk – British Horse Society website

http://www.horseridinglesson.co.uk/ – A useful for website for beginner’s looking for more information about riding

Heather Mayers, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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