Being introduced to equestrianism is not just about starting your journey in the sphere of a demanding sport, it is about changing your way of living. Once you start riding, you are introduced to new things, moves that your brain is not used to and needs to learn from scratch, words you have not heard, equipment you have not seen. Clothes you have not worn.
So here is a list of what you might have… accomplished so far if you are a novice equestrian:
1.You know how to walk, trot and canter.
With confidence or not, you have already worked on the basics of riding. You might have a balance issue or land on the saddle like a sack of potatoes, but you have worked on these three moves and you keep practicing for improvement.
2.You have already done some jump or pole work
Once you start mastering your trot and canter, you are expected to be introduced by your instructor to jumping, starting from pole work. And you might have jumped a few low fences as well.
3.You have been out on a hack at least once
Why learn to ride if you can’t use your skill? Doing your thing inside the arena is fun, but I have not met any equestrian who spends all his money on just wandering inside a small fenced space in circular motion! Horseback riding is an outdoor sport.
4.You have volunteered at least once
Volunteering is essential if you want to learn about our equine friends, to contribute to the society in general (if it’s about a charity barn) or, if you are serious about it, to prepare for an equestrian certificate, to start your career in the equine industry, or actually get your own horse. Also, it is often the price for a discounted lesson (yay!).
5.There are a few favorited pages on your web browser for equipment.
First of all, you cannot purchase equestrian equipment from any shop. You get it from specialized places. And these places do not exist everywhere. Thank God there are e-shops. And, if you are serious about the sport, you can name a few already.
6.You actually own some of this equipment
A helmet is essential. And at least one pair of breaches. And at least one pair of boots. And most probably, you have acquired at least one whip, you know, for the times when the school horses cheat on corners or can’t bother with any other pace except walking -if they bother to walk at all in some cases.
7.You have read and watched a lot about equestrianism
You can’t learn about equestrianism just by attending a riding lesson once a week, can you? Shows, books, tutorials, gymkanas, clinics, funny videos, all these are part of the fun and also help you discover your new passion. Your instructor might have recommended to you a few learning resources, or they might have named a few champions for you to watch their performance and see “how it’s done”.
8.You can name at least two horse breeds.
Come on. I’m sure you can tell the difference between a friesian and a pinto horse. If you don’t, the simplest way to learn is called “encyclopedia”. And also, you might be in love with a specific breed, you know, for the time you feel ready to get your first equine friend.
9.You have realised that different cultures ride in different ways
Humans all over the world have used horses for centuries for transportation, work or leisure, or this is what experts suggest. But riding is not the same from culture to culture. I will discuss this in more detail in one of my next posts.
10.You have started exercising between your lessons.
Equestrian sports are quite demanding and your instructor probably has already spoke to you about the importance of exercising regularly. Strong muscles mean better movement on horseback and more effective control of the horse, while a strong heart means that you don’t get over-exhausted. Imagine yourself expiring in the middle of your show-jumping performance, or during your grand prix test in dressage!
This is all I can think of, based on my own experiences and those of novice equestrians I know. Any other ideas?