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November 21, 2005

DIY: How to Successfully Ride a Horse

Today's "How to" article courtesy of English-blog contributor Allison R.:

The Steps to Take in Order to Enjoy the Ride

Trotting along through a wooded forest, looking at the surroundings, listening to nature exist as I ride on a horse. This sounds like the perfect day, but as much fun as riding a horse can be, there are some steps that must be completed before it is time to ride. A horse is a responsibility not just a hobby; it involves cleaning it, putting a saddle on, and preparing it to take out of the barn. In this process essay, I will cover these steps and explain some minor cautions to take while preparing your horse for a ride . . .

. . . Of course, the first thing that needs to be done any time that I attempt to take the horse out of the barn is retrieving the horse from its stable. Once this is done, I always give the horse a little snack to let it know that it is not in trouble and to calm it down. A calm horse is easier to work with than an angry horse, plus this lessens the chance of getting stepped on or kicked.

Once the horse is retrieved, I always brush its hair and clean out its hooves. This is where I take caution because if the horse does not trust me it could step on my foot or even kick me when I walk behind the horse. Taking the size of the animal in account, I believe this could leave a person in a lot of pain, so dealing with a horse should be handled in a serious manner. I brush the head, body, and legs of the horse to relieve it of any dirt or mud that could be settled in its coat. This will make them feel more comfortable and help them to avoid trying to clean themselves. Then I take a hoof pick and scrap out any build up of mud. This step, like brushing the horse, will make them feel more comfortable and avoid them wanting to stop because their hooves hurt. This step is the most difficult to accomplish because I have to pinch a tendon in their leg in order for them to lift it for cleaning. Sometimes I think they are going to let me clean their hoof, and then they decide that they do not want their hoof cleaned. A result of this could be me getting my foot tramped on and feeling some pain. After the horse is cleaned, I give them another treat to reward them for their cooperation.

Now it is time to saddle up the horse which requires patience from both me, the rider, and the horse. There are a few pieces of equipment involved in saddling the horse besides just the saddle. First, I need to place a saddle pad on the horse’s back. This prevents the saddle from rubbing the back raw. Next, of course, is the saddle which every rider needs to make sure their saddle fits the horse as well as the rider. This makes the ride more comfortable for the rider and horse.
Once the saddle is in place high on the back of the horse, I adjust the stirrups to fit the length of my legs. This is done by placing my fingertips at the top of the stirrup strap and the foot hole of the stirrup must reach my armpit. If the stirrup does not reach my armpit, obviously I adjust the straps so the stirrup fits my legs.

After this is done, a girdle is attached from one side of the saddle, under the horse’s stomach, and then attached to the other side of the saddle. The girdle secures the saddle and prevents it from sliding off the horse’s back or sliding down one of the sides. The girdle usually does not tighten completely, but I give the horse a moment to breath and relax then the girdle can be tightened to the appropriate size to ensure the security of the saddle.

After that, I place the harness on the horse’s head which includes the reins and bite piece. The reins go right over the horse’s head and are used to steer the horse on the ride. The bite piece is a metal bar that goes in the horse’s mouth. This has two purposes; to keep the horse from eating grass on the trail (it does not stop them from completely eating but it is harder for them to chew grass) and keep the harness on the horse’s head. The harness is the last piece of equipment required for riding the horse.

After the horse is all saddled up, I usually walk it around the stable on a lead rope just to get it accustomed to the saddle. This process helps for a smoother ride and lets the horse adjust to having the saddle, girdle, and harness on since the horse is not always wearing such equipment. Finally, I climb up onto the saddle, take the horse out of the stable, and out onto a trail.

These steps seem time consuming, but itis all worth it in the end when I am enjoying my well earned trail ride. If I do these steps half-asked, then the horse may not feel in the mood to go on a ride, which could possible lead to me getting bucked off the horse or the horse may not cooperate. So when going out on a ride, I always follow these steps to their fullest to ensure my safety and guarantee myself to have an enjoyable ride.

~Allison R.

*NOTE: For more English-Blog DIY or "How to . . ." articles, please click HERE!

Comments for Allison's article "The Steps to Take in Order to Enjoy the Ride?" Please leave them below:

Posted by lhobbs at November 21, 2005 06:14 PM

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