Riding a horse can be more than just a fun experience, it can be rewarding and exhilarating as well. However, beginner horse riders have a habit of making a number of the same common horse riding mistakes. And understandably it can be hard to know if your technique is correct or how to easily fix some niggly issues you may be having. My advice is to spoil yourself with horse riding lessons delivered by an experienced coach. Your issues could be solved fast using professional advice. Here is a list of some common issues I see and ways to avoid making them.
Horse Riding Mistakes To Avoid
1. Skipping Safety Measures
It may be tempting to cut corners at times, howver one place where you should never do this is related to horse riding safety. You have to be safe in order to have a fun and rewarding ride on your horse. Safety measures you should always follow include wearing proper footwear and a well fitting riding helmet.
2. Staring At Your Horse
If you are always looking down at your horse when you're in the saddle as opposed to watching where you are going, you will end up confusing your horse. Not only does it mean that you are distracted, it changes your posture when in the saddle. Essentially you are stiffening your spine which in turn makes it difficult for your horse to carry you properly. The best way to prevent this common horse riding mistake is to watch where your horse is taking you so you can be alerted to any potential obstacle or danger. When turning or moving, just keep looking forward and remain relaxed in the saddle which your horse will appreciate.
3. Killing The Reins
Beginners can have a bit of trouble with this. Pulling too hard on the reins can confuse your horse by sending the signal to stop. This is especially more confusing to your horse when your seated position in the saddle and legs are telling them to go forward. If you continue to pull the reins too much, your horse will eventually ignore your commands. It could lead to a serious problem if your horse gets irritated and chooses to rear in an effort to get you to quit tugging the reins so hard. All you really need to do is squeeze the reins lightly with a downward angle. Your grip has to be firm, but still light.
4. Loose With The Reins
When horses move around, they move their heads. Because of this you have to leave some slack on the reins or they will be ripped through your hands when your horse has any kind of major head movement. This will take away your ability to steer your horse or give it directional cues. The way to prevent this situation from developing is to always pay attention to the movement of your horse. As it walks, the head will bob up and down. By keeping pace with the movement and adjusting when required, you won't leave too much slack. Naturally, you’ll get better at this as you spend more time with your horse and recognize when to leave additional slack and when to take it away.
5. Holding Your Breath
Beginners tend to get nervous and hold their breath. This is actually a habit you will want to break as soon as possible as it is not good for either of you. All you have to do to beat this is to try to remain relaxed, smile and maybe even hum a little to yourself. You don't want to hold your breath as you may end up light-headed and possibly fall off of your horse.
6. Bad Posture
Slouching in the saddle is not a good way to ride a horse. It not only makes it harder to control them and can adversely affect your balance as well. You have to be able to control your horse and the best way to do that is by sitting properly in the saddle. Keep your head up, watch where you are going and relax your shoulders. Take deep breaths and by sitting straight you can control your balance without straining your back.
7. Scrunching Your Knees
Drawing your knees up to look like you are a jockey is not a good position to hold. You don’t want to look as if you are sitting on a chair as you ride. It can cause you to force your heels to point either up or down and these are uncomfortable positions for them. Your feet should be flat and you should just let your legs dangle down loosely. Just don’t leave them to be too loose. Your legs should be in alignment with each other.
8. Standing On Your Toes
Beginners who have learned how to trot will instinctively lift themselves out of the saddle and stand on their toes. In this position, they will try to rock along with the horse by jumping around. This is not good as it puts you behind the rhythmic movement of your horse and it puts you out of balance. You can remedy this by keeping the lower part of your leg still with your feet flat. Your knees should be bent slightly, legs loose and feet flat in the stirrup. The ball of your feet should rest in the stirrups.
9. Squeezing Your Legs
Squeezing your horse too tightly with your legs is not a good habit to get into. Not only is it uncomfortable for your horse, your legs will get tired and may upset your balance. All you need to do is let your legs hang down when you sit in the saddle. The weight of your legs should fall into your heels and you don’t want to force your heels down, either. When your legs are in the proper position, they help to form a straight line that follows from your ear to your hip and to your heel.
10. Shoving Your Feet Into The Stirrups
Another beginner mistake is shoving feet deep into the stirrups. If you do not have good stirrups, proper footwear and are slightly off balance, you could have a problem on your hands. Your goal to fix this is to ensure that the stirrups are even and at the right length. This is measured by dandling your legs and the stirrups should lightly touch your ankles. You only need to have enough of your foot in the stirrups to where the bottom of the stirrup is holding the ball of your foot.
11. The Roller Coaster
First timers tend to lift their hands and arms too high when riding a horse, much in the same way people will raise their arms when riding on a roller coaster. This gives too much slack on the reins which makes it difficult to control your horse and remain balanced in the saddle. The best way to avoid this is to maintain the same rhythm as your horse. Your elbows, forearms, wrist and reins should all be aligned along with the bit in your horse’s mouth. That is the height your arms should be at whenever you ride.
Horse Riding Mistakes Conclusion
Just remember to be safe but also to be relaxed when you are riding your horse. If you follow the tips outlined here to avoid common horse riding mistakes, combined with proper instruction from your riding coach, you will do fine.