Horseback riding or “equestrianism” as it’s called has been known to exist ever since man learnt to domesticate horses. The term “equestrianism” is used to define any activities that involve the use of horses for the following purposes: work related activities, recreational activities, transportation, cultural events and sports.
Horses today are being ridden and trained for police work and are extensively used in competitive sports. Ever since man started domesticating animals, the horses were employed in controlling the herds in the ranches and were a chief mode of transport in the ancient times. Now they are used in a wide range of competitive sports, such as: reining, endurance training, show jumping, polo, horse racing, rodeo and many others. Even today, in some parts of the world, horses are used as aids in farming. Horses continue to provide service to the public in the form of – traditional ceremonies like parades and funerals, police work, and search and rescue missions. Horseback riding is an important skill to possess in certain parts of the world as horse riding is the only way to traverse the landscape – since the harsh landscape does not permit any other means of transport.
History of Horseback riding:
There are many disputes regarding the exact period of time, but it’s roughly estimated to have started in 3500 BC. Studies show many pieces of evidence that horses were ridden even before they were driven. Horses were very important during medieval times as they were heavily used in warfare, in the form of cavalry. Horse riders and chariot riders had an edge over foot soldiers and many skilled warriors are known to have decimated a large number of enemies single-handedly. Buried chariots dating back to 2500 BC provided solid evidence in suggesting that horses were used as working animals at that time. Horses were used in many other peaceful exploits like trade, transportation, and agriculture.
The aforementioned paragraphs talk about horse riding in general and give a gist of the many uses mankind have had of horses in the past.
Equestrianism has evolved in many ways and it has become more disciplined as a sport; the number of injuries and fatalities caused to the riders has significantly reduced. Horseback riding is a great form of exercise too. People who are looking to take up horseback riding must familiarize themselves with the sport by taking proper lessons. Even if you are not going to practice in the future and you just want to ride for fun, it is important that you know how to properly ride a horse. This way you can continue with the sport anytime, if you decide to change your minds.
Here are some tips for beginners:
Horse riding is all about balance and posture.
For beginners, it is advisable to keep their centre of gravity in the middle of the saddle. This gives the rider a secure grip and he/she is not thrown off when the horse starts or stops suddenly. Attune your body movements with the horse’s and try to stay relaxed at all times.
Look where you are going.
It is essential to look where you are going as horses are very intuitive creatures and are great at sensing your intentions. Focusing on where you want to go and use your legs and reins to help you guide your horse.
Keep the balls of your feet squarely on the stirrup.
Your feet must not go in more than that, so that in the case of a fall you do not get entangled. Your feet must be pointed towards the sky while riding.
Have a firm grip on the reins.
There are two types of riding: English and western riding. The way you grip the reins will depend on what type of riding you choose. Western riders hold the reins in one hand and do not have any link with the horse’s mouth. On the other hand, English riders grip the reins in both hands and have a proper connection with the horse’s mouth. This could hurt the horse as your hands keep moving along with your body but it gives you better control. Beginner’s who are learning English are advised to stay level on the horse and keep their hands still.
Do not forget to breathe.
This is a common mistake made by all beginners. This could give you backaches and transfer emotional stress to the horse.
There’s a lot of educational content available on horse riding. horse-show-schedules.com is one such website that offers DVDs with step-by-step instructions. This will clear out all the doubts you might have and help you become a better rider. Happy horse riding!