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Getting to know your horse

It is important for every beginner wishing to ride to know something about ponies and horses, their make-up and shape, co lour and age and also the terminology which is used.

One should acquaint oneself with the correct names of the various parts of the horse’s body. Having chosen a horse to ride one should observe and determine its demeanor. Does the horse look keen, bright and alert or a little headstrong and willful or downright lazy. A beginner should start riding with a gentle and good natured horse.

Getting to know your horse is very important and grooming or the time spent mucking out excellent times to gain the confidence and trust of your horse. The horse will usually appreciate what you are doing. Provide adequate care for your horse and ensure that it is fit and healthy. Make sure that has clean and sufficient bedding provided and changed on a regular basis.

Gear for the Horses

Bridle – This is a the set of leather straps laid over the head of the horse that incorporates the bit and the reins-the bit is a sort mouth piece inserted into the mouth of the horse with a small rod attached on either side place over the tongue. The reins are the leather or nylon straps held by the rider, used to control and communicate movements to the horse.

Saddle – This is the leather seat placed on the back of the horse. It comprises the stirrups and stirrup leather, the numnah and the girth.

  1. Stirrup & Stirrup-Leather -The stirrups is simply the flat bottomed metal piece that the rider places his feet for support while climbing and riding. The stirrup leather is the leather string that connects both stirrups.
  2. Numnah -This is the piece of cloth placed beneath the saddle to protect the horses back from possible friction while riding.
  3. Girth -the girth is a saddle band that goes round the belly of a horse to hold the saddle in place. It should be properly fastened to avoid the saddle from rolling over.

Before saddling up a horse there is need for the horse to be groomed, brushed properly and hoofs must be picked.

Gear for the Rider

An amateur rider could have a pair of jean trousers, boots (long or short), a riding cap and gloves. Professionally, there are uniquely designed gears for the rider. The following are some of these.

  1. Riders Hat -the hat has a strap that fastens it to your head. It is for protection in the event of a fall.
  2. Trousers -This is a specific design for a rider’s trouser. The design, on the outer part prevents it from slipping-off the saddle. Inside is designed to reduce friction on the skin, due to riding for long hours or sweat.
  3. Boots -The boots are important professional or otherwise. It provides a good grip on the stirrups. The boots may be short (reach just above the ankle) or long (reaching the knees). The latter would be appropriate for professional riding. The common feature would be the roughness of the soul, to enable a grip on the stirrups.
  4. Spurs – This is a metal attachment to the heel of the boots use to communicate movement and increase in speed to the horse by way of a back kick to the body of the horse.
  5. Gloves – The gloves are simply to protect the hands from friction or inconvenience (sweat), holding on to the reins might cause. Riding gloves are usually made of leather or cotton.
  6. Whip – the whip, like the spurs is used to give the horse direction and can be used to urge it to move faster. It can also serve as available defense tool in the event of an attack (maybe from another horse).

Mounting Your Horse

Mounting a horse is usually done from the left side. It is advisable for new riders to have someone help them steady the horse while they mount. However, you should have the reins in your left hand while climbing, after which, you can have them in both hands.

Sitting Position

When seated on a horse, there should be a straight line from the riders’ ears through the shoulders down to the riders’ heels. The heels should be the lowest part of your

body. The rider should sit in the deepest part of the saddle and as much as possible, relax. The horse can feel and will respond to tension from the rider.

It is important that the reins are properly aligned with the bridle to have good contact with the mouth. The rider should have a confident grip on the reins but soft enough no to cause harm to the horse. The hand should go round the reins with the thumbs on the top part pointing forward. The elbows should stay close to the body.


To urge a horse to move forward, you only need to squeeze it lightly with your legs or give it a tap with the spurs attached to your boots. To make a turn you gently open the reins in the direction you want to go. The whip also comes in handy in stressing the direction. Also, a leg squeeze in the direction could do the trick.

It is important you always look in the direction the horse is facing, and always follow the movement/rhythm of the horse.

There are three main paces:

  1. Walk – this is a gentle pace motion similar to human walk movement.
  2. Trot – this is faster than the walk pace. it is a rather majestic movement .it is a motion in which diagonal pairs of legs are off the ground at the same time. It is similar to jogging.
  3. Canter/gallop – this is a sprint form of motion. A canter is a faster pace than the trot, but the fastest pace is the gallop. It is however not uncommon for the canter to be used to mean gallop.

It is most appropriate for you to give the horse a warm up exercise, to prepare the horse for the task ahead. A 5 min walk leading to a light trotting work, then a light canter would be appropriate. Warm the muscles on both sides.

Riding Techniques

There are various types of riding. The following are examples of the types of horse riding.

  1. Dressage – this is the training of a horse in obedience and deportment. It is also the display of such training.
  2. Jumping – this is a drill that involves the horse jumping over the hedges.
  3. Cross country/steeple chase – this is horse racing with ditches, hedges etc to jump. It is also referred to a cross country foot race.
  4. Trekking – bush-riding.

Horses are strong, physically, but emotionally vulnerable and so fragile. There is the utmost need to establish a cordial relationship with your horse and understand its various moods and temperament. Riding a horse is depends on the teamwork of horse and rider. The horse allows you to ride it. It is a privilege not a right.

Feeding your horse

It is very important that horse receives a balanced diet that includes the correct amount of vitamins and minerals. For the novice it is the best to seek advice and help in deciding what, and how much to feed your horse, but as a rule of thumb, a horse’s appetite is approximately 2.5 percent of its total body weight. Always feed good quality food and make sure you feed your horse at regular intervals during the day. Allow your horse access to a constant supply of clean fresh water. Consult the vet immediately where your horse is injured or suffering from any other ailment. Exercise your horse regularly to keep it in shape.

Breeds of Horse | Feeding & Welfare