Ever dreamed of galloping through a field on horseback? Maybe you've always wanted to learn how to jump over obstacles or dress in a competition, or perhaps you want to take up a few lessons before your next Cavago vacation (hint hint). Whatever your reasons, horse riding is a beautiful sport worth partaking in. A great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and bond with animals. It can also teach you valuable life skills such as discipline, responsibility, and patience… It’s no wonder that for many people, it becomes a lifelong passion.
Of course, it can all be a little overwhelming at the outset. There are quite a few myths surrounding this sport that discourage many from even trying it out, such as the idea that you need to have a lot of money or own your own horse, or even that you need to practice regularly. The reality is that riding is a fairly accessible hobby that is open to people from all walks (and budgets) of life, and it’s even well-suited to differently-abled people. So, if you’re interested in knowing what it takes to get started with your new equestrian hobby, we’ve compiled a handy guide of things to keep in mind and answered a few common questions.
Choosing a Center
First things first. To begin riding, you need to find a good instructor. An experienced professional will not only be able to take you through all the basics but will also be able to pair you with the right horse for your height and weight. When choosing a riding school, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Firstly, any riding school you pick should be registered with the local authorities to ensure that they are operating in a legal and ethical way.
Another thing to consider is the cost. It’s a good idea to get quotes from each center to compare value for money. But it’s good to also keep in mind that while cost is an important consideration, the teaching style is also quite important. For instance, if you are interested in learning a particular discipline, such as dressage or jumping, it is far more important to find a school that can facilitate your interest and an instructor who is experienced in that area.
Location is another important one. Typically, the farther it is, the harder it might be to muster up the motivation to be consistent, so go in with a realistic budget in mind that’s going to include a few other things we mention further on, as well as a realistic expectation of how far you’re willing to travel.
This all sounds like a lot of research, but the way to do it in one quick step is through the MyCavago website. No matter where you are based, Cavago has worldwide partnerships with thoroughly vetted riding instructors, centers, and schools. Use the location filter, and it will display all the offerings in or near your area, with all the necessary information laid out conveniently in one platform, including cost, contact, and reviews.
One more thing
Now that you’ve narrowed down your options and booked a lesson, you might be excited to get to the fun part of actually riding. But not so fast! Our top tip at Cavago is to take some time getting to know your horse before getting in the saddle. Establishing a relationship with the horse you’ll be riding is very important in creating a good riding experience for you and your horse both. One way to do this is to ask your school to let you assist in grooming the horse to become familiar before the first lesson, or (if it’s alright with the school) you can sneak a treat to your horse like a carrot or an apple.
It’s good to keep in mind that horses are unique individuals in their own right, with their own unique personalities. This means some will be more friendly and open, while others may be more shy and reticent. It can require some trial and error, finding a horse that you can really bond with, so it is possible after your lesson that your instructor finds you to be better suited to a different horse, and it’s not a reflection on your ability as a rider. But when you do get paired with the right horse for you, you will soon realize what a difference it can make.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to learn to ride?
As with any new sport, becoming competent requires time. It also depends on many factors, such as your own ability and fitness to begin with, the skill level of your instructor, and the consistency with which you practice. It’s always good to be patient with yourself and your horse and to enjoy the process!
How much does riding cost?
This one definitely varies according to location. As a general rule of thumb, private lessons with individual attention do cost more than larger group lessons. It also varies according to the prestige of the riding school you enroll in. On average, on Cavago, you can find schools across the world starting from 20 GBP to 80 GBP or more, but many offer reasonable packages as well. It might be worth it to consider a mix of private and group or hack sessions to get the best of both.
What Equipment Should I Have?
- A good, fitted riding Helmet
- Flat boots that cover your ankle and have a low heel to avoid getting stuck in the stirrups with some grip and traction to control the horse.
- Comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely and easily. Light layers are best for cold weather, as you can remove them easily in case you get hot. Preferably close-fitting trousers, without thick seams on the inner leg, to allow you to sit comfortably in the saddle.
- Gloves (optional) help keep hands warm in the colder months and prevent chafing caused by the reins from regular riding.
Most riding schools do provide you with a helmet and sometimes even boots for your first few lessons, but it’s always good to check beforehand and buy your own if you plan to continue.
What Safety Measures Can I Take?
It’s important to keep in mind that horses often have a will of their own, and even the best-trained ones can be unpredictable. But you should be in safe hands if you are working with a skilled and experienced instructor and wearing the necessary gear. You can also wear a body protector, which, although it doesn’t safeguard against all injuries, can help you feel safe as you get the hang of horse riding.
Can I Ride if?
Nearly anyone at any age can ride. The youngest riders typically age 7, while some of the oldest (like Queen Elizabeth) rode well into their nineties. It’s also accessible to riders who may have special needs, and many organizations work to help such riders learn all the way up to the Paralympics. It is important to keep in mind that even the largest horses do have a weight limit, and usually, people who weigh above 350 lbs may not be able to ride safely.
So, what are you waiting for?
Horse riding is a rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. It offers a myriad of benefits, including physical fitness, mental well-being, and the opportunity to bond with animals. Now that you have an understanding of the basics, it’s time to sign up already!