A Guide to Horseback Riding for Beginners

bottom half of two women walking brown horse on gravel trail

A Guide to Horseback Riding for Beginners

Riding a horse for the first time may seem intimidating. Especially if you haven’t grown up with regular access to large animals. At Mountain Creek Riding Stables, we specialize in helping new  riders build confidence in the saddle. Read on to learn the best horseback riding for beginners tips!

Tip #1: 

Do your research and find horseback riding opportunities in your area

woman on horse riding on wooded trail

Although “research” isn’t always the most fun word when it comes to planning leisure activities, there are some things you should be aware of, especially as a beginner horseback rider.

If you’ve never been on a horse before, you’ll want to search for “trail riding stables/barns,” which can also be called “hack stables” in horse jargon. A “hack” is a horse that’s accustomed to walking along in a single file line and following the leader. This is perfect for a guided horseback ride where you don’t need any previous horsemanship skills. Hack riding is light exercise for the horse. This is what we offer at Mountain Creek Riding Stables because it leads to docile horses giving safe rides for beginners who just want to enjoy the activity. Our horseback trail rides are standard lengths too. 45 to 50 minutes is just enough to feel like a long ride without leaving people super sore. We’ve been in the guided horseback riding business a long time and cater to people who don’t have past riding experience.

Of course, if you’re more serious about getting into the sport of horsemanship, you can still enjoy yourself at a hack stable, but you may enjoy yourself more at a  lesson barn. These barns are specifically targeted at people who want to grow and improve their riding skills. Instructors at lesson barns can help get you into all sorts of horse-related activities, including barrel racing and dressage.

Additionally, “boarding barns” are places that allow you to keep a horse on their property if you don’t have space for them yourself. These stables are for horse owners, although some boarding barns also offer lessons. Generally, if you’re a horseback riding beginner, you won’t need to reach out to a boarding barn.

Tip #2: 

Dress in proper, comfortable attire

woman in jeans and blue tshirt on horse

Generally, for basic horse riding, you’ll need to wear pants (so you don’t chafe on the saddle), secure shoes that cover the toes (no flip flops, sandals, or heels), and a comfortable shirt that’s not too big (so it won’t get caught on anything).

Everything else you might want for horseback riding is weather dependent, like sunglasses, hats, bug spray, a raincoat, and gloves and jackets in the winter. Make sure to check the weather before you go, most stables ride rain or shine!

Another very important item is a helmet. While most horse riding stables make them optional, they are highly recommended for beginner horseback riders.

Check out our other blog posts What to Wear Horseback Riding, and What to Wear Horseback Riding: Winter Edition for more detailed advice on attire.

Tip #3: 

Practice good horse etiquette and remain calm

three women on horses walking through creek

It’s important to pay attention to your horse’s ears. If they’re forward, they’re paying attention to what’s in front of them. If their ears are to the sides, they’re relaxed or listening to sounds next to them. Beware of your horse’s ears being pinned back flat against their head, this means they’re angry or agitated.

Always approach horses from the front whenever possible to make sure they see you coming. Remember, even a kind horse may kick at you if you startle them. If you must approach from the side or behind a horse make to use your voice so they’re aware of your presence.

When you’re horseback riding, you engage your lower back, abs, and most importantly, your leg muscles. All this helps you to maintain balance when you’re on the horse. The saddle also gives you a wider area to sit and balance on. Staying on is made much easier if you sit with proper posture, so straighten that back!

Of course, this might make you feel nervous if you’ve never been on a horse before. No need to worry! Just remember to stay confident and calm. Horses are gentle and loving animals that can sense your energy. If you get anxious, your horse will likely feel anxious too. If you feel nervous, you’ll be more likely to react to something poorly, so that’s why it’s so important to remain peaceful and level headed. This is one of the most important tips for beginner horse back riders— stay calm!

Tip #4: 

Stay hydrated and fuel your body well

woman in jeans and navy blue tshirt on white and brown speckled horse in woods

Even though it looks easy, horseback riding is a very physical sport. Remember that you’re engaging muscles to stay balanced in the saddle. As with any physical activity, it’s very important to stay hydrated. You’ll be doing exercise that you’re not used to and be out in nature, so make sure to drink water, particularly if it’s a hot sunny day.

If you’re participating in one of the more advanced horsemanship activities like barrel racing, dressage, or going for a long horse ride (some barns offer 5-9 hour rides or overnight trips), then you’ll ABSOLUTELY want to plan for that serious of a workout! That caliber of horseback riding will keep you fit if done often enough. And just like with every other workout routine, it’s important to treat your body right by eating well and staying hydrated!

Book A Guided Horse Riding Trip In The Poconos

Mountain Creek Riding Stables has been in the business of guiding beginners on horseback riding trips since 1993, so we’re well established  in the industry. Our trail guides will give you a thorough introduction, including horse safety tips, how to use your body to steer, and make sure you have a helmet that fits you. Don’t miss out on an unforgettable ride through the Poconos on horseback!

Book today or learn more about our guided horseback rides through the Poconos!

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