The equestrian sport has been one sport that started out popular and has never lost its appeal. Many people do not consider horse riding to be a “real sport”, but they are wrong. Why else would it be included in the Olympics? Being an equestrian requires physical strength, fitness, and balance. If you’ve ever sat on a horse’s back for half an hour without having any experience with horse riding, your muscles probably screamed when you got down. The equestrian world is one filed with glitz and glamor, and it makes sense that you would want to join it. After all, horses can have a great impact on a person’s mental health. However, there are a few things you need to know before you make the leap of becoming an equestrian.
What discipline do you want to do?
The great thing about horse riding is that there are so many different options. You can do show jumping, cross country, dressage . . . or you can just combine the three and do eventing. There’s hunting and equitation and showing and racing. And then there are the less popular disciplines, such as Western riding or vaulting. You have loads of options, and making a decision early on will help you when it comes to making other choices, such as which tack to get, which breed of horse is best for you, and what clothes you need. But we’ll get to all of that soon.
What tack do you need?
The word “tack” refers to everything the horse wears, such as their bridle and saddle. The main determining factor of which tack to use will be whether you opt for English or Western style riding. The types of saddles and bridles used for these two styles differs vastly. Since there are so many different disciplines within the English riding style, there are also different requirements for tack within these disciplines. Some disciplines may need boots for your horse’s legs, while others may forbid the use of certain types of bits. You’ll soon realize that you have a lot to learn about tack. If we’re focusing on bits alone, there are hundreds of different types of bits – you get snaffles, Pelhams, Eggbutts and Myler bits, to name a few.
What clothes do you need?
Most definitely, you’ll need a helmet. Many Western riders don’t wear helmets, but if you’re new to the sport you should protect yourself, no matter what style you ride. Riding boots and chaps are also recommended, although not necessary if you’re just starting. Just don’t wear shoes with laces, as these can get caught in your stirrups, which can cause you to get dragged if you fall off. Jodhpurs and breeches are the most commonly worn pants, but again, as a beginner you can ride in tights or jeans. It is a good idea to have gloves though, because riding can be tough on your hands and leave you with blisters. If you’re very nervous about riding, you can go the extra mile by getting a body protector.
Do you want your own horse?
Having their own horse is a dream come true for most equestrians, but it comes with a lot of responsibility, financial and otherwise. There’s no need for you to get your own horse, especially if you’re just starting out. You can just as easily learn to ride by leasing a horse or taking lessons. In fact, riding a variety of horses throughout your lessons will only improve your skills as an equestrian. However, some people do prefer to learn on their own horse, so that their riding can match the horse’s personality. Keep in mind that horses cost a lot. Even if you’re able to buy a horse for an affordable price, it’s an ongoing expense. You’ll need to pay for its stabling and food, as well as vet fees and farrier and dentist check-ups.
What breed do you want?
There are various breeds of horses, and they aren’t all created equal. Some horses are much better suited to certain disciplines than others. You also need to factor in your personality. While each horse is different, a few breeds are known for being more temperamental than others, and that’s not a good idea for people who get nervous. Horses are sociable creatures – they live in herds and they often bond with their rider or owner. So, you can see why it’s important to get a breed that will suit your personality.