6 Tips for First-Time Riders

6 Tips for First-Time Riders

6 Tips for First-Time Riders
Photo by Partrade Trading Company

It takes courage to ride a horse for the first time. Whether you’re riding a horse on vacation or starting to ride horses as a new hobby, here are six tips to help you feel confident as a first-time rider.

Courtesy of Horseandrider.com | Michaela Jaycox

Tip #1: Wear the proper attire for Western riding—jeans and boots. Dressing for the occasion will ensure you’re both comfortable and safe on your ride. A safety helmet would also be a great option for a first-time rider. Ask if you can borrow one from a riding facility or invest in a quality riding helmet. Don’t fear looking goofy wearing a helmet, either; veteran riders know the importance of safety.

Tip #2: Ride relaxed and with proper posture. Sit up straight, keeping your ear, shoulder, and heels aligned (imagine a straight line from your ear to your heel). Maintaining your posture during your ride will help to keep you balanced in the saddle. Also remember to relax. This is important for two reasons—first, your horse will feel your relaxation and stay more relaxed, as well. Second, the two of you will feel more comfortable throughout the ride.

6 Tips for First-Time Riders
Girl wearing a helmet riding a sorrel horse in a field. Photo by Nichole Chirico

Tip #3: Remain calm and confident both on and off your horse. Your horse will be able to sense if you aren’t confident and may try to take control. This doesn’t mean pull your horse around everywhere; rather, be confident in your ability to get your horse to do what you want with minimal effort.

Tip #4: Take things slowly at first. It’s okay to just walk, as gaining speed requires a deep level of horsemanship. Learn how to ride your horse at a walk before advancing gaits; this will keep you safe and on the right track to learning horsemanship skills.

Tip #5: Get a trainer, mentor, or horse-savvy friend. Having someone knowledgeable helping you along your journey will make your first riding experience an enjoyable one. And, if you plan to ride more than just one time, these people are resources to help you learn all you need to know about Western riding.

Tip #6: Set goals for your rides. Goals keep you improving and help you ride with a purpose. Your goals can be long-term or short-term. Set goals that fit your levels of ability and confidence as a rider

Michaela Jaycox is Horse&Rider’s assistant editor. She has been active in the horse industry for over 15 years with a background in horse judging, trail riding, showing, reining, rodeo, and barrel racing. She lives in Longmont, Colorado, where she owns American Quarter Horses and American Paint Horses.