Like most riders I am sure at one time you have taken a fall. I, myself, have taken several. At one point in time I assumed, like most riders, that I could ride a horse and ride well. Each time I wanted to take a guided trail ride and was asked if I could ride or what level of riding I had done, I said, sure I can ride. I’ve ridden lots of times and didn’t fall off. How hard can it be? The horses are trained, right???? So how could I not ‘ride’. It’s easy, just jump on, take up the reins, kick and go……
That’s when we get in trouble, when we (ass)u(me). I learned quick and I learned well. Not long after I started ‘riding’ I also started taking lessons. I wanted more than just to hang on for the thrill of my life at the moment. I wanted to know I was secure, well balanced and knew what to do with those reins when I was pulling, pulling and pulling and the horse still wasn’t stopping! So needless to say, just because one stays on the horse does not make one a good rider. Anybody who stays on a horse can ride. Correct. But not anyone who stays on a horse knows what they are doing. What most beginners and occasional trail riders don’t remember or realize is that these horses are trained to respond to certain ques. Therefore, it is our responsibility to take the time to learn what those ques are and how to use them correctly. Otherwise, we are telling our horses to do something and they are saying “WHAT????”, because we don’t really know what we are telling them ourselves, we just ‘think’ we do.
For instance, if you are riding along and talking to your buddy, looking here and there, moving your hands around and twisting this way and that in your saddle, did you notice that your horse may meander off the trail, walk into the horse next to you or do something else you don’t want it to do? Do you realize that all that commotion you just made while talking was also communicated to your horse in many different ways and he is trying to figure out what you want? Your horse feels and hears everything you are doing and trys to stay balanced himself while balancing a bobbing object and sometimes heavy object on his back.
Think about it, next time you take a walk, hoist a small child up on your shoulders, give them something in their hands to play with and see how balanced you stay in your walk, especially if that child is giggling, moving or bouncing around.
Take a few lessons, have a better ride, learn to communicate with your horse and be safer on the trail. Spring is here and we will all be out riding longer hours wanting to have fun. Make it more fun by becoming a better rider.