Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time in a saddle on top of a horse knows it is vital to be aware of your and your horse’s body. While expert riders might already know what they need to do to become better at riding their horses, like sitting up straight or pulling your heels down while looking up, turning these riding best practices into muscle memory is a challenge indeed.
That said, horseback riding is a sport that consists of infinite possibilities when talking about improving your riding technique, knowledge, and skills. However, sometimes it will be easy to find yourself stuck with a riding stance because you simply don’t know how to improve yourself. With that in mind, let us look at a few ways you can become better at horseback riding.
Look after your horse after riding it
The easiest way to familiarize yourself with a horse is to look after it, especially in horseback riding competitions. Not to mention, taking good care of your horse will allow you to keep it healthy and sound so it rides better. An easy way to do this is to loosen the girth or cinch right after you’re done with your riding session. Doing so will allow your horse to breathe more easily and relax. After that, provide your horse with a bucket of lukewarm water so it can rehydrate.
Moreover, if the weather is hot, hose your horse down with some cold water. Doing so will make it feel more comfortable. Brush the coat, check the hooves for damage, and tend to any injuries. Show it some affection to build a strong bond with the animal. Last but not least, choose good horse boarding services to ensure your animal is well cared for. These facilities are well-equipped with all the necessary services required to keep your horse fit and healthy. After all, if you don’t look after your horse, it won’t ride to its maximum potential and won’t respond to your instructions either.
Improve your balance on the saddle
An easy way to do this is by standing in your stirrups. Doing so will allow you to gauge whether or not you’re able to stand up straight and maintain this position for a particular amount of time. However, if you plop back down on the saddle or lean backward or forward, then you need to work on your balance. Plus, for jumpers or hunters who can’t maintain a two-point position during a canter, trot, or walk, chances are you need to fix your balancing issues as well.
That said, a practical exercise to fix your balance is to find a step and stand on it. When you’re standing on it, ensure that your heels are hanging from the edge. Also, ensure that you have something to grab on to, like a wall or rail, to stabilize yourself. When you’re in this position, if you tilt backward and forward, you have balancing issues that will affect your horse riding abilities. So, perform this technique several times every day to improve your balance on your horse. However, if you want to take it up a notch, stand on your stirrups instead of a step.
Record your ride
Thinking that you ride well actually doing so are two different things. If you have a smartphone and a riding buddy, you can record your ride and compare. However, if you own a camcorder and a tripod, it will make recording your ride a lot easier. That said, set up your camera or smartphone at a location that will allow you to record your horse’s stance to your seating position on the saddle and everything in between. Then, once you’ve set up your recording device of choice, practice your canter, trot, and walk. Moreover, record at least five minutes of video footage to gather ample review material.
Once you have the video in your hands, open it up on your computer or smartphone, grab a pen and paper, and write down the things you do well and what you need to improve. When you’re able to review your riding technique, you will be able to work on your weakness to become a better horseback rider.
Opt for professional horseback riding lessons
If possible, taking horseback riding lessons is a surefire way to improve your riding skills. Doing so will allow you to know the areas where you lack. Moreover, it will be a humbling experience, even if you’re a skilled rider yourself. Horseback riding lessons let you learn a lot and improve your riding abilities when a professional horseback rider is on hand to guide you and give you pointers.
Furthermore, when a professional keeps an eye on your riding technique, they will constantly remind you to watch your hands, look up while you ride, or keep your heels down. Sure, you might think that horseback riding lessons aren’t cheap. However, by taking a couple of riding classes, you will receive real-time feedback from riding professionals so you can fix your riding technique, improving with every lesson you take. You can also supplement actual learning by watching tutorials on YouTube.
It is every horseback rider’s goal to keep honing their skills. This article mentions a few tips that can help you out, especially if you’re a beginner. Take care of your horse, work on your balance, record and watch yourself, and take professional help. By following this advice, you can become an expert rider in no time.