Is this your first time around horses?
Fear not, here is a guide that will take you through what to expect when it comes to your first riding lesson.
Booking your first lesson
When you come to book your first lesson the riding centre are likely to ask you a few questions. This is to make sure you are put into a class with riders of a similar ability and are partnered with the right horse.
Here are just a few of the questions they are likely to ask:
- What is your riding ability - have you had any previous riding experience?
- What is your age, height and weight? (If you do not know your height and weight then you may be asked to weigh yourself when you arrive)
When you are booking your lesson, these are some questions that you might want to ask:
- Do you have riding hats and other safety equipment that I can borrow?
- Who is your riding school accredited by? (We recommend that you use a BEF Member Body accredited facility such as The British Horse Society, the Association of British Riding Schools, The Pony Club or Riding for the Disabled Association)
Arriving on the yard
When you arrive at the yard, head to the reception area or find a member of staff who will be able to help you get ready for your first lesson. For your safety do not approach any of the horses on the yard or in the field before you know that it is safe. You will normally get greeted by the yard owner, manager or a senior instructor who will ask you for some basic information and whether you have ridden before. They will then ask you and your parents to fill out a registration form. This will involve putting in contact details, next of kin and any medical conditions that your instructor needs to be aware of.
Getting kitted out
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own riding hat a lot of centres are able to supply them, but we recommend that you check with the riding centre when you book. The teaching staff will make sure that your hat is in good condition and is fitted correctly so that it is comfortable for you.
Meeting your mount
When you get to meet your horse or pony for the first time it is important to stay calm and not overwhelm them. Some feel uneasy when meeting people for the first time. Your instructor or helper will tell you whether there is anything your horse likes or dislikes. Some horses like a lot of fuss whereas others might prefer their own space. As horses have limited vision directly in front of them, you should approach them slowly and speak to them softly as you get closer so that they don’t get startled.
It is important to remember, NEVER approach a horse from behind.
Some horses will like to get a good sniff of you and if they are interested in your hands then hold your palm out flat, that way they won’t get your fingers confused with carrots!
Horses are very agile and can move quickly, so be careful and don’t stand too close to their feet.
Getting on and off
Before you leap on to your horse you should listen to your instructor first as they will tell you how to get on to your horse correctly. When you are sitting comfortably, they will then talk you through how to hold the reins, how to place your feet in the stirrups and what body position you should have in the saddle. If this is your first lesson, you will be accompanied by a leader who will be helping you control the horse.
If at any point during your lesson you feel uncomfortable or nervous about something then let your instructor or leader know. There is no such thing as a silly question and the instructors are there to ensure you are enjoying your first riding experience.
At the end of your lesson, your instructor will tell you how to get off your horse correctly and will ask whether you want to help untack and put your horse away. A lot of riding centres welcome this and it is a great chance for you to learn more about your horse and get more comfortable around the animals.