These are the mistakes that I see new riders and people coming back to riding make the most frequently. Read on, so you don’t make the same mistakes!
Spending A Lot On Riding Clothes And Equipment
You could spend a ton of money at the tack store on riding clothes and equipment. When you are first getting back into riding, you don’t need the fanciest most expensive clothes or helmet. Basic riding clothes and boots are just fine. All the money you might waste on a big shopping spree at the tack store would be better spent on riding lessons. Or practice rides, anything that offers you more time in the saddle!
Not Setting Goals Or Talking About Goals With Your Instructor
We all start riding at different points in life and for different reasons. Some people just want to get some fresh air and exercise and ride for pleasure. Others are starting off in hopes of living up to their earlier riding dreams. Maybe involving competing, or owning a horse of their own.
In order for your instructor to best help you learn, you should make sure you tell them what exactly it is that you are wanting to get out of the experience. Instructors will have a different style of teaching for someone who is just riding to try it out for fun, and someone who wants to own their own horse and show one day.
Only Riding One Horse
We all have our favorite lesson horses that we want to ride. In the beginning, riding the same horse can be beneficial, as it helps the rider to get a basic comfort level more quickly.
Once you have been riding for a while, it is important to ride more than just one horse. We get used to the ways of a certain horse, what he does or does not do. This can cause us to get a little lazy in our riding. It is like a false sense of security. When you get on a different horse that sense of security may be gone. So once you feel comfortable, if the opportunity is available, try out some of the other lesson horses.
Progressing Faster Than You Feel Comfortable
Learning to ride should be a fun experience, not a scary one. Teaching people to ride is having them learn a certain skill and then continue to build off that skill to the next skill. If you haven’t mastered or feel comfortable with one thing, you should not feel pressured to move onto the next skill.
We all progress at different rates. Some of us are fearless, some of us are more apprehensive. There is no right or wrong. You should progress with your instructor at whatever rate feels comfortable for you. Rushing through early lessons and not getting the basics is not only not safe, but it will cause you more riding problems later on.
Riding Unknown Horses Too Soon
So once people find out that you ride, you will be surprised how many people know someone or knows someone who knows someone that has a horse just standing around. Waiting for a rider. Maybe it is a kid that went off to college and left the horse back home…there are a million scenarios of how people end up with horses that they don’t need or use. Often times when these people find out you are a rider, they will offer you the chance to ride their horse.
Though it sounds like a great opportunity to get more time in the saddle, proceed with caution. Make sure you know all about the horse and his background. That way you are not risking yourself getting hurt on a horse who hasn’t been ridden in years. Or a horse that is just beyond your skillset.
Confidence takes a long time to build and no time at all to lose. If you get offered a ride on someone’s horse, consider having your instructor check it out and see if it is a good fit for you. You are better not taking the opportunity if it is one you aren’t ready for. Shattered confidence and broken bones we want to avoid on our riding journeys.
Not Taking Advantage Of Additional Learning Opportunites
If your instructor or trainer offers clinics or any sort of additional learning opportunities, you should not pass them up. Even if they aren’t riding opportunities. Maybe they have unmounted clinics about different horsemanship skils or even a volunteer program. The more time you spend around horses the more comfortable you will be around them, so take advantage of any opportunity that you can.
Only Being Interested In Riding Not Horsemanship
Try as you might if you are only interested in riding and don’t work to learn and improve your all-around horsemanship skills, you will never be as good as the rider who does.
There is much more to horses than riding them, and it is important to learn as much as you can about every aspect of horsemanship.
Taking Horses Bad Behavior Personally
Lesson horses work hard, they get bored and they get tired. Out of self-preservation, they learn all the tricks of the trade to get them out of work. It takes time to learn how to handle the horses testy moments.
You will get through it though as long as you don’t take it personally. Horses don’t do things intentionally to frustrate us or make us mad. They only do things in the present moment in their minds, then they move on to the next moment.
Don’t take it personally if the horse you ride is testy and really makes you work hard. It is all part of learning how to ride.
Being Too Much Of A Discipline Snob
If you are a new or returning rider, you probably chose a barn that offered the type of riding you were interested in. That’s great. Don’t though feel like you are limited to only that one discipline.
Don’t be a discipline snob! If you are interested in trying something new with horses, do it. There is no reason why you only have to do one discipline. Experience as many different types of riding and horses as you’d like.
Also, if you are ever considering getting your own horse, this might give you a better idea of what you want to do. In turn, helping you find the right horse to meet your needs.
Being Too Hard On Yourself
Don’t be! Learning to ride a thousand-pound animal with its own brain is a big deal. It is hard, and can sometimes be frustrating or even a little scary. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember when you first started out how just getting on and walking sounded daunting? Just think positive, ask for help or guidance when you need it and cut yourself some slack.
As I always say, like a broken record, horsemanship is a journey, not a day trip. You can do it. Just keep on keepin’ on!