I have heard the parents of my students often talking about how much they would love to ride, or how they used to ride and would love to get back into it again.
Getting back into riding horses, or starting as an adult can seem daunting. I hope that this article will help you feel more comfortable to give it a try.
You Don’t Have to Ride With Kids
One of the reasons that I think deters a lot of adult riders from giving riding a try, is thinking that they will have to ride in group lessons with little kids. This is absolutely not the case, most lesson programs have an option of private lessons, and some even have adult beginner group lessons. If you have a friend or two who might want to give it a try, this would be a fun way to get started. Not to mention it would be less intimidating going with friends.
Finding the right facility is super important. As an adult beginner, you want to find a facility that has other adult beginners riding. Even if you don’t want to be in a group lesson. If other adults are riding there and seem comfortable in the environment it is a good sign.
Refresh the Basics
As a new rider or a rider returning to riding, your emphasis should be on learning and solidifying basic horsemanship skills, in order to be able to safely ride for fun. You want to find a facility with instructors who have this mindset. Not all instructors are great at teaching
I don’t mean to say that showing isn’t something adult riders should aspire to. If that is what you are interested in, setting that as a goal is great. In order to get there though, you may need to start at a more beginner friendly facility and then move on to a different facility or trainer when you are ready.
Find a Place that Caters to Adults
Just like how you’ll start on the most gentle, beginner friendly horses and then move on to more challenging ones; you may start with one instructor and then at some point in time, be ready to move on to another instructor or facility to meet your goals.
You should explore all the options in your area before you start. Make phone calls, check out websites, and F
Once you have narrowed it down to a few prospective facilities, if possible, you should go and meet the instructor or go and watch a few lessons. See what kind of vibes you get from the place and the instructor.
Are the people welcoming and friendly? What is the instructor’s teaching style like? We all get gut feelings about people and places, do you feel comfortable at the place?
Obviously, you are going to be nervous to get started, so you don’t want to start somewhere that you don’t feel comfortable. If you have to explore your options for a while longer, or maybe drive a little farther than you had intended, it will be worth it to start riding in the right place. I would say an ideal facility for an adult rider that is new or returning to horses is a smaller facility, just because it is less intimidating.
It’s Okay if You’re Brand New
If you have never ridden before, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something for yourself! Especially something like riding that you have always wanted to do. Be honest with your instructor in regards to your previous experience and previous riding ability if you used to ride.
When I meet a new adult rider, I ask them about their experience. If they have some, great if not, that is totally cool too. Most instructors will use the first lessons to evaluate your skill level if you do have some riding knowledge. I teach all my new adult students (well all my students) the first couple times assuming that we are starting from the very beginning.
This is the best and safest way to get to know your new students. It is not just about evaluating the client’s physical abilities, but about their demeanor with the horses. Are they confident or timid? By doing this, I don’t mean to offend anyone who has ridden in the past and has some skill. I simply want to get to know them a bit. Evaluate their physical ability and learn how to best communicate with them before moving on to harder things.
Everyone learns differently, and you want to have an instructor who understands this.
Once you have found the facility that you think is the best fit for you. Schedule an introductory lesson. Make sure you are aware of the cost, payment plans, necessary equipment, etc… ask as many questions as you want beforehand. Ask about what the protocol is for when you arrive. Where do you meet the instructor? How will you know which horse to ride? The more you know about what to expect the more excited you will be to start the lessons and the less nervous you will be.
It is never too late to get involved with horses! Or to get back into horses after taking a break for a while. Being around them is therapeutic. Learning how to communicate with them through a language they understand and feeling like you are in a partnership with such a beautiful, strong animal is a feeling like no other. The skills necessary to succeed with horses are skills that you can learn at any age. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
Hopefully, this article will be the encouragement you need to take that first tentative step to get involved with horses. Below is a checklist, go through it and check off the points that apply to you. I think you will see that you are in fact, a horse crazy kid turned horse crazy grown up. Really, that is the most important thing!
So answer me this:
- Do you love horses?
- Have you always wanted to get involved with horses?
- Did you ride as a child, take a break and are ready to start again?
- Is it time that you do something for yourself for a change?
- Do you need to spend more time outdoors?
- Do you want to make new friends with similar interests?
- Are you looking for a fun new way to get some exercise?
- Do you want to work on your self-esteem and self-confidence?
If you are reading this to begin with, I bet that you answered yes to all or most of those questions. Horses have taught me so much in