Thursday, April 22, 2010

Horseback Riding Lessons

If you've invested in a horse of your own, want to take riding lessons so that you can visit the stables and go riding with some previous experience or even if you're planning a horseback riding vacation, horseback riding lessons are a definitely a good idea, especially for the beginner or novice rider. But even if you're experienced in certain areas, you might want to go further still and advance your skills by training for competition riding or racing.

There are several different kinds of horseback riding lessons you can take, depending on where your interests in the sport lie. There are clinics devoted to every age group and include training for ranchers, competition riding, lessons for the recreational rider and even classes on learning how to deal with problem horses. You can take one-on-one or group lessons or special classes taught by internationally renowned horseback riders.

The length of the lessons will vary and but most are normally for around one hour or so. Usually, when you arrive for your lesson, you will be given an initial assessment of your skills. Then the you and your instructor can evaluate what goals you want to reach and set up the type of lessons you'll need based on that information.

Here are a few different categories of horseback riding lessons available, based on levels of experience, to help you determine which area you fall under.

Beginner: A person who has limited experience, is unable to post the trot (set the pace) and does not canter (cantering is slower than a galloping pace, but faster than trotting).

Novice: A rider who is capable of mounting and dismounting the horse without assistance, can apply basic aids, is comfortable and in control at a walking pace and who can ride for a moderate length trot and short canters.

Intermediate: A rider who has a firm seat (balanced and comfortable in the saddle), is confident and in control at all paces including posting trots, two-point canters and gallops, but does not ride regularly.

Strong Intermediate: An intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly and is comfortable being in the saddle for at least six hours a day.

Advanced: A rider who encompasses all of the above skills in addition to an independent seat, soft hands (light but commanding control of the reigns) and who is capable of handling a spirited horse in open country.

There are numerous horse stables across the United States and internationally that offer lessons at various levels. Browse around online to find one in your area, and be sure that you choose an instructor who you feel comfortable with so you can get the most out of your learning experience.
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