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How Do You Appropriately Ride A Horse?

By Expert Author: Orson Shepard

First things first, you must have the proper equipment to safely ride a horse. The required equipment is as follows: A saddle, bridle, and a saddle pad. A saddle is primarily handmade from leather and is what sits on top of the horses back and is what keeps the horse's rider balanced and safely positioned between the swells and the cantle of the saddle. The saddle also features two straps that Cowboy's call cinches. One cinch strap, the girth strap, runs behind the front legs of the horse, while the second strap, the flank strap, runs under the flank of the horse; located just in front of the back legs. These two straps are the only thing besides a horseman's balance that keeps the saddle centered on the back of the equine (horse).

A saddle pad is usually made out of wool and is positioned underneath the saddle to help protect the horse's back from the weight of the rider. A bridle consists of a headstall, a bit, and reins. These are the main tools used to control the direction you want your animal to travel in.

After you've purchased these items and, obviously, own a thoroughbred, the next step is to put all of it together, also known as saddling a horse, so you can prepare to ride your pony. The very first thing any new horseman learns is to always work from the left side of your horse. This means saddle your pony from the left side, put the bridle on from the left side, and most important of all mount your animal from the left side. It is very imperative that any mounting, dismounting, or ground work is done from the left side of the animal; this is their comfort zone.

Once you have your knightly steed saddled you can begin to ride. You want to mount the horse from the left side of the saddle. Place your left foot in the stirrup, an open hole where your feet rest, and in one fluid motion through right leg over the horse and into the opposite stirrup. Remember, you never want to place your feet all the way into the stirrups, that's how major wrecks happen and you get your legs tangled up. You only want the balls of your feet, just behind your toes, resting in the stirrup to ensure they safely come out if you fall.

As you get on the horse you want to keep your reins in your left hand and use your right hand to grab the saddle horn for support to pull your body up and onto the saddle. Once you're sitting in the saddle you will use your stirrups to balance yourself. You want a small amount of weight on the balls of your feet and the rest of your weight on your rear end in the saddle; it should never come up off your seat while you're riding.

Remember keep your heels down, toes up, never let go of the reins and keep your body in the center of the horse in an upright position; this is what I call keeping your mind in the middle. This is how you correctly ride a horse and are the very basics to keeping you and your animal safe. Happy trails and safe riding!

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