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Coastal 101 | Animals | March 16, 2018

Back to the Basics: Good Horsemanship

Sure, some people know how to ride a horse before they can even walk, but good horsemanship is something you learn over time. While you might already know how to approach a horse, mount, ride, and dismount, even the most advanced of us can use a quick refresher as we get ready for sunny weather and prime riding conditions throughout the Pacific Northwest. Especially if you plan to take inexperienced riders out for the first time.

Always Wear a Helmet: Some purists will scoff at the idea of wearing a helmet when riding, but proper head protection is a must just in case the horse gets spooked, bucks you off, or ends up on top of you. Again, beginners should always wear a helmet.

Avoid Loud Jewelry and Smartphones: The horse you’re riding won’t care if you want to check your Facebook feed, and it certainly won’t worry if you drop that phone and it’s stomped into oblivion. To avoid broken phones and scaring your horse, turn your phone off. In addition, some horses can be spooked by jewelry that reflects the sun or jingles while you’re riding.

Mount on the Left: Mounting a horse from the left started when soldiers wore swords on their left sides. Today, we still mount from the left, and any trained horse will except the same courtesy. When pulling yourself up, place your left foot firmly into the stirrup and grab some mane with your left hand. Then put your right hand on the back of the saddle. Finally, bounce off your right foot and pull yourself up into place, sliding your right foot in the right stirrup. Graceful mounts come with plenty of practice.

Riding Basics: Using your legs and reins, you can tell the horse where you want to go and how fast (or slow) you want to get there. Just a little bit of pressure on the reins will tell the horse if you want to go left or right. Stopping requires you pull back slightly on the reins.

A single bump with your heels will speed your horse up. Depending on the horse, you can go from a walk to a trot, followed by a canter and gallop. It’s important that beginners not tense up when entering into a gallop as they can fall out of the saddle. Beginners should stay in a walk or trot until they’ve mastered some of the basics, including balance and communicating with the horse.

Moving with the Horse: When in a trot, it’s important you move with the horse, raising yourself out of the saddle with the motion. This is called posting. It doesn’t mean you remove your feet from the stirrups or let go of the reigns, but simply move in sync with the horse’s movements. The higher you bring yourself up out of the saddle depends on how fast the horse trots.

Dismounting: A few things happen all at once during a smooth dismount. First, you’ll swing your right foot over to the left side of the horse. As you lower that foot to the ground, you’ll slide yourself off the saddle, holding some mane or the saddle horn with your left hand. Your right hand will come over naturally.

You’ll Find Everything Equine at Coastal

Your Northwest owned and operated Coastal carries a full line of horse tack, blankets and helmets, feed, hoof guard, parasite controls, fencing, stock tanks, and bathing essentials. Stop by today and go home with everything you and your horse need to enjoy some wonderful springtime weather.

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