Riding may evoke the idea that it is quite an expensive and traditional activity but it doesn´t have to be depending on where you ride and what your ambitions are. Not everyone has the time, money or space to own a horse but there are options to enjoy classes at a riding centre, part board where you pay to use the horse when you wish, or you can board your own horse at a farm, paying for their accommodation and food.
If you are looking to start out, classes are your best bet. If you are wondering what is ahead, we will provide you with a quite description of the basics of riding and the different disciplines so that you can choose the one that will head you in the right direction. Riding can also take you through precious landscapes, remote beaches and places you would never be able to on foot.
Learning to ride:
Among the first things that you will learn are how to up the horse, mount and dismount (very important), good posture and balance and how to walk with your horse. A second step is starting to learn how to trot, canter and lope (for Western). As you advance you can move towards learning how to how to ride bareback, jump, show and compete and even play polo on horseback. In a good rider has to be decisive and capable of directing the horse.
Riding is very beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. Not only is it a physical activity (and it is much more physical than one would imagine), it´s only mentally stimulating and a great way to bond with an animal.
There are different styles of riding that have different backgrounds. There are two main disciplines, Classic Riding (called English in North American which can also just be referred to as ¨riding¨) and Western Riding.
The main characteristic of ¨classic¨ riding to point out is the saddle. An ¨English¨ saddle, which is a shallow saddle with no horn (unlike the Western saddle) and they enable the horse to move much more in order to carry out the different commands. The bridle does vary depending on the discipline.
In English riding it is quite common for the rider to ¨rise¨ or ¨post¨ which consists in the rider moving up and down in the saddle in tempo to the horse´s trot.
The attire for formal competitions is quite traditional in the sense that the rider wears jodhpurs (the tight pants which often have knee pads), boots, a shirt, helmet and a jacket.
Some of the different subcategories of classic riding are:
Dressage: The widest category which involves making the horse into a gracious and responsive partner for the rider. It entails riding style, appearance and reaction of the horse.
Show Jumping: which often involves other categories like dressage and eventing, is when the rider jumps obstacles with the horse in which they are awarded points according the time, how the horse approached and (if) how it clears the jump. There is another similar category called Hunter which is similar but it focuses more on the style and appearance of the horse and it´s jump and points are awarded subjectively.
Eventing: a mix of dressage, cross county and jumping.
Polo: The brilliant game of polo, played on horseback.
Western riding has its roots in the horse riding the Spanish Conquistadores took to America which was used for cattle herding and war. Although there is not a marginal difference, the easier place to spot variations is in the saddle (which has a horn at the front of the saddle), wider stirrups and the way in which the rider holds the reins (one hand is used in competition).Western riding is not as popular in the UK as it is in America.
The outfits of Western Riding tend to be much flashier than with English Riding and it could be easily compared to cowboy attire.
The beauty in horseriding lies in that the rider often form a deep bond and become to understand each other on another level. Although it may seem as if the horse is doing all the work, it is not the case, as the ride uses their legs a great deal in order to stay on as well as to control the horse.
Reining: This is the equivalent of Dressage in the Western style. The focus is on the performance of the horse for the challenges in place.
To find a location near you to start riding, have a look at our directory to find a riding school near you. Do not hold back no matter what your age!