There are many reasons why horseback riding lessons are so popular, but the main reason is perhaps there's a different kind of freedom when you're finally off on a ride with your four-legged friend out in the open field. What a rush!
But, wait, where do you even begin? When it comes to riding for beginners, especially young equestrians, taking lessons from a pro is a must. For grown-ups, don't fret—lessons on horse riding for adults is also acceptable, and even seasoned riders can go back to the basics to brush up on their skills.
In this article, we will talk about:
- Why horseback riding lessons are worth taking
- The basics of horse riding lessons
- How to prepare for your first session
- What to expect when you're taking lessons
- How to make the most of each session
- Where to get horse riding lessons
- Possible cost and inclusions of lessons
Why are horse riding lessons worth the time and hype?
Chances are, the inspiration to ride came from seeing horses or equestrians in action.
Like any hobby or sport, your level of dedication doesn't need to be on a competitive level—unless this is something you want to achieve. Most students go into horse riding for leisure riding or simply the fun of it! Beyond having fun, what do you get from riding lessons?
- Trying something new gives you a natural high. It's human nature to find that brand new thing or experience thrilling. You celebrate your "firsts" for that reason—doing something for the first time is something you never forget.
- You learn a new discipline. When was the last time you learned something new? A new discipline, especially one that is completely different from anything you've learned before, will take you out of your comfort zone. It sharpens your mind, disciplines the body, and gets your spirits up.
- It helps you stay focused. When you learn a new skill like horse riding, it's necessary to put your complete attention on what you're doing. Missing even a few minutes of your riding lessons because you're distracted could mean you misunderstand how to dismount properly or not hear important safety points from your instructor.
- It's a good workout. Equestrians are some of the best athletes. They must be in tiptop shape to do what they do! Riders develop core strength, balance, flexibility, coordination, and fine motor skills. The proper way to ride a horse will teach you the best posture, and with all the trotting and jumping, your heart health will improve also.
What will you learn as a beginner?
The key to being patient with your progress as a beginner is remembering that everyone started just like you. No one instantly knew how to mount and dismount a horse, the proper terms to use, and all else that might seem alien to you when you start taking your lessons.
With that said, expect to learn the following during your series of horse riding lessons:
- What horseback riding is as a sport
- What your instructor expects you to learn by the end of the series of lessons
- How to take care of your four-legged friend
- How to stay safe and protect yourself and your equine partner
- Mounting and dismounting, or how to get on and off the horse safely and correctly
- Balancing and controlling your body so that you move as one with your riding partner
- Posting, or the action that lets you get off the back of your horse and move along with him while he trots
- Stopping and steering—learning to control yourself and your horse is a must, not just to progress with your lessons but to keep you and your equine partner safe.
- Aids, or the fun part—asking your riding partner to walk, canter, trot, and halt. It's the part every riding student waits for the most!
How do you prepare for your first day?
Safety and function come first when it comes to dressing for your first riding lesson, but looking the part does help boost your confidence and soothe your first-day jitters!
- Dress the part. Most riding schools will provide an approved riding helmet for your safety, but remember to come dressed in comfortable clothing—stretchy pants and a breathable top that won't mind getting dirty will do. Your clothes should not be snug to avoid catching onto your horse or the saddle. Wear riding boots that have at least a 1 to 1 ½ inch heel.
- Check on your horse's tack. When you get to your lesson, you will notice that your horse is fully prepared and equipped with the tack. A horse's tack is important for both the equine and the rider since it protects your four-legged friend's back and head, and it keeps you comfortable while riding.
Tack will differ from horse to horse, but the tack essentials would be a bridle on your horse's head and a saddle with a saddle pad on the horse's back, with the saddle pad found underneath the saddle, to give your equine partner's extra protection. Saddle pads come in all shapes and sizes, with features like anti-slip and those with gel or mesh, so it's best to ask your instructor if you need specialized products to give you and your equine a smoother ride.
Why will you learn from a pro, and what will I learn?
A riding instructor goes beyond telling you what to do. They keep you and your horse safe, teach you the fundamentals and the techniques and will adjust the lessons to your own pace.
- Learn etiquette and safety practices. Safety when around horses will always be above anything you will learn during your lessons. Chances are you will be with other riders, so a pro will teach you how to be aware of this. A good coach will go beyond teaching these on your first day, and will constantly give you reminders.
- Matches the right horse for the rider. Finding the right riding partner for your lessons is perhaps one of the important tasks that your instructor will do for you. You might like how the other horses look or their disposition, but you have to trust your teacher to choose the one that is a proper fit for you and your skill level.
- Learning how to groom, tie and lead your horse, plus aftercare. This lesson strengthens your relationship with your horse by connecting and understanding them. Depending on the instruction of the riding school, you can also learn how to saddle up your horse and take care of your riding partner after each lesson, even when you're a beginner.
- Teaches you the proper riding habits. There's a lot more to riding a horse than just sitting there. You and your riding pal must work as one.
Your instructor will lay the groundwork for this to happen, from the correct posture, way to hold the reins, mount and dismount, and more. Having a solid grasp of the foundations of horseback riding is essential to the safety of you and your four-legged friend—and makes for a far more enjoyable ride.
- Instructs you in mounting, sitting, walking, halting, and turning. If you've never done it before, you'll be surprised at the skill and balance necessary to mount and dismount a horse! And that's just the first thing to learn—how about the proper posture or controlling your four-legged pal to walk, halt, or turn? There are cues and actions for this, which your instructor will teach you in time.
- Gauges if you're ready for faster movements or aids. Your instructor will be the best person to evaluate if you're up for the challenge of trotting, jogging, or cantering with your horse. These will depend on the skills you have developed and put into practice.
How do you make the most of your lessons?
An hour's worth of horseback riding lessons will breeze by when you're having fun. How do lessons and skills stick not just until the next session—but turn them into habits?
- Get to your session early. Don't begin your lessons stressed out because you were running late. Getting to the stables around 15 minutes earlier than your session will help you settle down, get ready at a steady pace, and with a bit of time to spare to check on your horse's energy level.
- Focus on the present. When you're distracted, tips from your instructor will fly over your head. Most riders will tell you that the time they spend with their equine partner is their me-time. Keep your focus on the lesson at hand, and you'll practice what you've learned soon enough.
- Take down notes post-lesson. The training ring is your classroom. If you absorb lessons better when you write them down and review them after the session, pairing this with hands-on practice will take your learnings further.
- Be patient and realistic. Give yourself time to grasp your lessons, practice well, and keep at it. With every new skill or sport comes much practice, patience, and the optimism to push you to reach your goals.
Where do I take lessons, and what are the horse riding average costs?
Contact your local country club, stables, or riding school to inquire about lessons. Remember to ask them about the following:
- Number of sessions for your level, plus the dates and time
- Qualifications of your instructor
- Other requirements needed, such as a membership number or certificate of good health from your physician
- Style of teaching and riding practices
It’s also helpful if you can visit the facilities in your shortlist before making your final decision to check if everything is well-maintained and the health status of the horses. You can also watch lessons in action to know what to expect.
What is the cost of horse riding lessons?
When it comes to the cost of a series of horse riding lessons, it differs depending on several factors. The facility and its location, plus the expertise of the instructor should be taken into consideration.
The number of lessons and if you will be taking it either with a group or a one-on-one session are factors that also come into play.
In the United States, one private session can cost an average of $85 an hour, while a group session is roughly $65 an hour.
In Australia, a private session would cost around $125, while group lessons would average about $73.
Take note that those fees include a lot more than time with your equine partner. It also includes the use of the stables, the rental of important pieces of equipment, and the time and knowledge of a pro as your instructor. When you think about it, it's quite a good deal, and might make you want to pursue horse riding and ownership in the long run.
Are you ready to take your first horse riding lesson? We think so! Contact your local facility now and get ready for the ride of your life!