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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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Horseback Riding In Maui

It's common knowledge that Maui, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth. But in addition to the fantastic tropical atmosphere, fabulous food and wonderful culture, there are also great options for horseback riding.

Ironwood Ranch is located atop the western Maui Mountains, high above the busy resort area. They claim to have the best string of horses available in the entire region and specialize in smaller group rides. There are also private rides available upon request and you can even have a horseback riding party on their grounds if you like. They offer a wide variety of horseback riding options and can accommodate families and individual riders of any experience level. The ranchers will specially select a horse for you that matches your riding style and ability and even offer smaller, gentle horses for children. Choose from several different tours and ride through the pineapple fields and Ironwood Forest while enjoying spectacular views of Maui and its neighboring islands. Visit Ironwood Ranch's website at www.ironwoodranch.com.

Haleakala on Horseback offers two exciting, 'House of the Sun' guided horseback trail rides into the largest, dormant volcano on Earth - the Haleakala. They provide experienced guides that narrate the trip, giving you all sorts of information on the fascinating history and geology of Haleakala in addition to the rare plants and animals found there. Take the eight-mile Haleakala Crater Ka Moa O Pele Junction Ride and descend down the soft slope of the Sliding Sands Trail, 2500 feet to the crater floor! It's about four hours of incredible scenery and there is no prior horseback riding experience necessary. Plus, you'll be given a wonderful lunch when you reach the bottom. Go to www.mauihorsebackriding.com for more information.

Mendes Ranch is an actual working cattle ranch situated in the heart of West Maui. Ride the range into the base of flourishing, green valleys where you'll take in breathtaking views of the flowing waterfalls of the West Maui Mountains. Afterward, ride along the waves of the beautiful shorelines. They have a two-hour morning ride which starts at 8:30 am and an afternoon ride beginning at 12:30 in the afternoon. At the end of each ride, you'll be offered a generous, Azeka-style feast for an additional fee. The ranch is closed on Sundays and the minimum age for riders is 7 years old. Their web address is www.mendesranch.com.

Lahaina Stables is nuzzled in the slopes of the West Maui Mountains. They offer several riding options including a two-hour morning ride, three and a half lunch ride and a remarkable, two-hour sunset ride which they highly recommend, especially for experienced riders. They welcome families with a minimum age requirement of 8-years-old. Get more information at www.mauihorse.com.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Horseback Riding Boots


The types of boots you choose to wear when horseback riding can play a big part in the level of enjoyment you'll get during your ride. Boots come in a wide variety of styles and are designed in several different categories. One thing for sure is to always choose a boot with a smaller heal, lower arch and no deep treads so that you can avoid getting your feet stuck in the stirrups. Here's some background on the types of boots that are available.

All Terrain Riding Sneakers / Barn Boots

If you like to stop and hike a little during your day out riding horses, these are a good option to consider. This type of shoe is a cross between comfortable sneakers, paddock boots and hiking shoes. Barn boots, as they're also called, are lightweight, breathable and very durable and will give you stability along with comfort. Most are made with waterproof materials for both men and women, and are also ergonomically designed with special soles for improved cushioning and air circulation.

Paddock Boots

Paddock boots are easier to deal with than the taller style of riding boots and they're also much safer than riding in your favorite pair of old sneakers although just as comfortable. They are available in zip-up, lace-up and pull on styles and also provide you stability while you're on the ground as well as in the stirrups.

Tall Riding Boots

Riding boots that are taller at either knee or a little over in length can not only protect your legs, but also come in dressier styles because they are common attire worn by sporting and competition horse riders such as jockeys, equestrians and polo players. They are usually designed with appearance, comfort and performance in mind and are available in an extensive variety.

Field Boots

When the weather isn't so nice outside, throwing on a pair of field boots can alleviate the work of having to clean and/or condition your regular riding boots. They are designed to be very durable in addition to comfortable and are a very popular choice for riding or taking care of your horse during nastier weather conditions.

Western or 'Cowboy' Boots


The great thing about cowboy boots is that they are genderless and ageless, worn by men, women and children. This type of boot has been around for centuries and although they come in an enormous variety of styles and designs, are still made with the same basic working concepts in mind. The lower heel, smooth sole, height of the boot to protect your legs and convenient finger loops make them easy to pull on are still today, the most popular choice of boot for western-style horse riders.


Article Written By J. Foley


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