Anyone here know how to ride a horse?
Ooooh! Oooh! I do! I do!......
You kick to get them to go.
And you pull back on the reins to stop.
If you want to go left, pull the left rein.
To go right, pull the right rein.
The object is to keep your ass in the saddle as much as possible and to not fall off.
If you can only walk you are a beginner rider.
If you can trot you are "intermediate".
If you can canter or gallop without freaking out or falling off- you are officially an "experienced rider".
Now, if you can stay on when the horse freaks out, bucks, rears, or bolts, you are either a professional or just really damn lucky.
Am I missing anything?
What more could their be?
Okay, okay. All joking aside....
I didn't grow up in a horse family or on a farm. Other than the riding my mother and Auntie did as teens, I am the only one in my family who is "horsey". As such, I didn't grow up with an inherent knowledge of all things equine and other than a few months of lessons at 13, I had to pretty much learn by hook or by crook and through trial and error as I went along. Which worked out fairly well. I could stick like glue and would ride anything with four feet and a heart beat up (over any kind of terrain....river, mountain or forests) I was bucked off, scraped off, slid off, taken off, kicked, bitten, run over and abused in every manner possible. And I lived to tell the story. All of which I managed to do with only the above listed skill set.
I was reading a blog today that talked about this issue- (how difficult it is to make the transition from recreational rider to an a more disciplined or educated one and how to define when or if you have become that rider). Someone commented and said that logging hours in the saddle is the only way to become a better rider. Which I would have to agree with... to an extent. Because from age 12-18 I rode about as much as any teenage girl could (which, btw, is a lot) but I didn't know how to ride at all! I stuck-like glue. (At least most of the time.)
I developed "feel" in the saddle and learned to read the mind of a horse... I could tell you exactly which boulder (out of 50 similar shaped lumps of rock) my old Arab gelding would determine to be some horse eating monster.... I learned to anticipate problems, to look at the world and pick out "horsey hazards"... (like that bolt sticking out of the wall - just waiting to snag a hip, that loose wire on the fence- waiting to trap a leg, that loose halter, just waiting to hook a hoof or to watch that nasty gelding in the paddock (as you take your horse out of the field) b/c he is sure to calmly graze and pretend to ignore you as you walk by.....right up until you are precariously pressed between your horse and the gate, at which time he'll bolt across the pasture, hell bent on murder and mayhem.... which will send your horse in to hysterics..... just as your hands are busy with the gate latch....which, in panic, you of course drop....and while trying to regain control of your (now) wild horse, the gate swings wide open..... at which time the bossy old lead mare catches sights off the lush grass on opposite side of said gate and makes a run for it.... taking the rest of the herd with her.... and other mundane stuff like that - all of which take a lifetime of handling horses to learn to anticipate!
It seems to me that "horse sense"- the ability to read and anticipate problems, to handle horses with care in a safe and practised manner- and knowing how to ride in a correct way are not mutually exclusive concepts. I am not a great rider. I spent the majority of my hours logged in the saddle without any care of concern for correct leads, dropped shoulders, being "on the bit", driving up a hind quarter, picking up the front end, body position, riding from the seat, moving off a leg, etc. etc. etc. but I sure the heck did develop a healthy amount of horse sense. Whereas I knew plenty of riders growing up that had been taking lessons all their life and could ride better than I'll ever- but who didn't have a freakin' clue how to care for or handle a horse safely.
I do not consider myself an experience horsewoman. I have some experience and some basic working knowledge of handling and riding horses. There are people on this planet that will forget more than I'll ever know about horses. I have often wondered if I will ever feel like a remotely competent rider. To be a horsewoman is to often be humbled by the greatness of horses and blessed by the limitless experiences and learning opportunities they afford us.
To all of you that are just getting started in horses or that aspire to become better riders, I encourage you to get lessons, take clinics, read books, watch videos, and ask for advice. Also spend as much time as possible with as many different horses as possible. Every horse is an individual and has something unique to teach us. But most of all, recognize that there is always going to be someone that knows more than you do (or at least claim to) and that we are all still learning, no matter what our experience level.
Here is my confession as example....
I had a really difficult time learning how to feel what lead a horse is on. I was told a hundred times how simple it was and how to do it but never quite got it and eventually I became insecure about not knowing and so stopped asking for help. Just this last year I was in a lesson and my trainer had to keep getting after me for being on the wrong lead. I finally snapped and said, "I am sorry... but I JUST cant feel it!!!" She looked at me totally puzzled and said, "What? That's easy!" to which I sarcastically replied, "So I'm told!!" What did she do? She put me on a lunge line, tied my reins off, had me close my eyes, and spent the next half hour doing lead departures until I finally... finally ... got it. And guess what.... It is easy. I was just over thinking it because I was insecure about getting "found out" as the girl that didn't know her leads.
Horse people are a pretentious bunch. We are arrogant little shits sometimes! Sorry... but it is true. But DO NOT let that stop you from learning. We all have some kind of financial, physical or time limitation that limits our ability or our opportunity to progress. Be all you can be. (In the Arrrrrrrmy!)
Me! I have finally found the perfect horse.....
I actually feel like I can control this one....
THIS is my next pony!!!......