I Started As A Kid
Since I started riding as a small kid, my perspective may seem different than an adult starting as a beginner.
#1 – It’s Okay To Be Nervous
As my sister-in-law always says when she describes us as adult riders, she said we are “wimp chickens” compared to what we used to be.
When I was in a group lesson as a kid, I always felt like I was the only one who was not confident.
It is totally, okay and normal to be nervous when you first start riding. It is scary being on a thousand pound animal for the first months of lessons.
I felt ashamed and embarrassed of my fear. I would leave feeling discouraged. Then it wouldn’t take long for my discouragement to be replaced by me hardly being able to wait for the next lesson.
The process repeated for a while, luckily I finally outgrew my fear. It took me longer than most, luckily I had a mom who was into horses and she pushed me to continue when I was afraid and felt like I would rather just quit.
#2 You Will Have A Favorite Horse, But You Won’t Always Get To Ride It…
My very favorite lesson horse that I rode in the beginning was named Magic. Magic was a 100 % tried and true push button horse. Worth her weight in gold.
Magic was in her late teens when I was riding her. As happens with most lesson horses, they get older and their ability to participate in lessons decreases. They might not have to totally retire, but as you progress you may outgrow your favorite horses physical capabilities. Which means that it is time for you to move on to another horse.
For me, my first move on horse was Frostline. Let me tell you I HATED HER in the beginning! I had finally got comfortable with Magic and now I was on Frostline who repeatedly would drop her shoulder and change direction, or try to trot me right out of the gate. Back to the fence where she stood to be tacked up.
The confidence I had finally had gotten on Magic, was crushed pretty quickly when I switched to Frostline.
This is just part of the riding process, my riding instructors never specifically explained this to me. I wish they had. I understood the part about Magic not being able to work hard anymore, but not why I had to ride this horse who gave me a hard time every lesson.
Luckily, between my Mom pushing me and my instructors I eventually mastered Frostline and learned to love her. Even when my legs were touching the ground I still wanted to ride her in the little shows we went to.
Instructors pick out what horses their students will ride according to the other students in the lesson and what each rider specifically needs to learn.
It is a good thing that your instructor thinks you are ready to take the next step. Keep that first horse in your heart. It can always be your favorite. I promise though as you learn to ride other horses you will learn to love them also.
#3 It’s Okay If It Takes You A While To Learn To Get The Tack Just Right
I read horse books and watched horse movies and basically obsessed with horses all the time( I still do). I studied the horse books that had pictures of how to tack up a horse. They made it look so easy!
When I was in lessons I can remember all of us students lining up before mounting. Our instructor would come by and check all our tack to make sure we got it right.
It seemed like I never had the saddle placed correctly, I had something to tight and something too loose. So did all the other kids, but it was still frustrating.
It is a lot of steps to tacking up when you are a kid. It can be overwhelming. I wish I would have known this so I wouldn’t have always felt discouraged about getting things wrong.
If you keep at it, you will get it right some day and then once you do it will be engrained in your mind forever.
#4 There Is A Different Between Being “Thrown Off” a Horse and “Falling Off”
As an adult, this is a pet peeve of mine. As a kid, I never really considered what it meant.
My first fall was off of my beloved, Magic. We were doing trot poles in the arena. It was an evening lesson and things were getting a little shadowy. Magic tripped trying to step over the shadow of the pole, landed on the pole, and off I went. It knocked the wind out of me, mostly shocked me. I don’t remember being afraid of getting back on. I probably was though…
Anyway, that is an example of falling off, not being thrown off. Falling off is when you get separated from your horse. In my case, it was because I lost my balance when Magic tripped. I FELL off. She didn’t THROW Me off.
Falling off is part of riding, it is something we all learn to deal with in our own way. It is just important to know the difference. That way you can think about what you could have done differently to maybe stay on.
Honestly, unless there are some weird circumstances that scare a normally reliable horse, beginner riders should not be riding horses that are prone to behave in a way that would get a rider “thrown off”.
#5 Riding Is Hard But That’s Okay
I think that most kids probably start lessons thinking their isn’t much to riding. That it is easy. Good riders do make it look easy! But they had to start somewhere too!
You will get frustrated and nervous. All these feelings are normal. Horses are big animals with their own brains and they don’t think the way we do.
The longer you ride the more you will learn to read them and speak their own language. When you ride you have to learn to speak the language of horse. It is a long process, and a hard one. Totally worth it though!
When you get frustrated just remember that your instructor wouldn’t ask you to do something you weren’t capable of. Have faith and trust in your instructor. If you don’t understand something or are scared and have a concern, talk about it with your instructor! Their job is to help you learn, feel safe, and have fun!
If You Are A Beginner Rider…
I hope this is encouraging to you! And helps you understand a little better why things are the way they are in lessons and that you aren’t the only one that might get discouraged from time to time. Keep on keepin’ on though! Be dedicated, try your best, and communicate with your instructor you will make great progress before you know it!
Other Random Trivia…
Did you know that today, January 15 is National Bagel Day, National Strawberry Ice Cream Day and National Hat Day! Have a bagel for breakfast, where your favorite hat and stop on the way home for work for strawberry ice cream. There is always a reason to celebrate the day!