Humans and horses have a long interrelated history dating back thousands of years ago. Horses are unique animals that have interesting characteristics of their own and have even shaped our language as well as our way of life. This influence has even reached our automobile industry where we measure the power of our car engines as being equivalent to horsepower! Horseback riding is an art appreciated by all and if you’re looking to get in on it, then here’s some things you should know: !
Before you even get to riding, you’ll need to know how to approach the horse. According to equestrian experts, you should walk up to the horse, pat the horse, and become a little bit acquainted. The way you approach a horse is important if you want to avoid getting kicked. If you must walk behind the horse, make sure to go around with your hand on top of the horse at all times, and keeping your body very close to the horse. By doing this, it will know where you are at all times and will be less likely to get spooked.
Like many herbivores, horses have their eyes on the side of their heads, not on the front. This means it will typically move its head slightly back and forth to be able to look ahead from a side view. It is important to understand this fact as it will help later down the road when your riding becomes more advanced and you learn the limitations of the horse. For instance, you will understand why jumping with your horse can be a pretty tricky endeavor, since the horse can’t see the obstacle coming toward it without turning its head slightly.
You can’t just sit back and let the horse do the work since it doesn’t know when the obstacle is right in front, so this maneuver will require you and the horse to work together. Of course, if you’re just a beginner, you don't have to worry about whether you can clear obstacles of varying heights with your horse just yet, For now, it’s just good to know that the horse can see you best from the side and that you should move around the horse, keeping in mind that the horse wants to know where you are at all times.
When the time comes to mount the horse, you want to do so from its left side. Why is that? Well, it has been the case since the days of old when men wore swords, usually on their left sides. In order to mount the horse without scratching the sword on its body, they mounted from the left.
There is really nothing to mounting up. The correct way is to gently grab the mane of the horse -- the hair on the back of the horse’s neck. Don’t worry, the horse wouldn't feel it. By grabbing its mane, you are letting the horse know where you are, and that you are saddling up. Place your left foot firmly into the left stirrup and your left hand on the base of the horse’s neck area, then position your right arm over the back of the saddle. Bounce a few times on your right leg to get well adjusted, then bounce yourself up, throwing your right leg over, and sitting yourself down into the saddle. Next, put your right foot snugly into the right stirrup and balance yourself evenly over the center of the horse.
Once you are up in the saddle, you’re ready to establish your relationship. The horse needs to understand that it should wait for you to be ready, and not just take off until you have asked it to go. You use the reins and your legs to communicate commands to the horse. Want to go left, gently tug the reins to the left and if you’re going right, pull the reins to the right. You also use the reins to stop the horse by pulling the reins towards you without too much pressure.
To make the horse go, you use your legs to squeeze its body gently, or bump your heels, to ask the horse to move forward. As soon as the horse responds and starts moving, stop kicking and remain conscious of your leg movement during the ride. You need to be conscious of what your legs are doing because your legs are communicating commands to the horse.
Horses are ridden almost everywhere in the world and it’s a wonderful feeling as you gallop at full speed across open plains. That’s why horseback riding is such a popular activity in many safari and beach destinations in Africa. For instance, did you know that you could explore the magical island of Zanzibar on horseback? If you start to get tired of chilling by the beach or have already experienced the amazing tours that Zanzibar has to offer, you can explore the rest of the island on horseback, riding down the beach, checking out coconut plantations, and even swimming with the horses. Horseback riding is a truly wonderful experience, one that is sure to be a highlight of your trip so make sure you don't miss out on this adventure during your stay.
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