It is inevitable that new riders will make mistakes and learn as their riding develops. Here is a list of the top 10 mistakes that new riders make when starting to learn to ride and how to fix them.
Do any of them apply to you?
- Raising your hands in the air
As part of a natural instinct we tend to lift our hands and arms to balance us when we start to feel wobbly or nervous. Beginner riders tend to raise their hands too high. This causes the rein contact to be lost as reins are too long and the rider can no loner control the horse.
Fix: Work on improving your seat by following the movement of the horse with your seat and core. Maintain a light, steady tension on the reins and keep your hands level to the hip. Re-adjust your reins if they become too loose. Imagine there is a straight line that goes from your elbows, forearm, wrist, hands and reins. Ensure your hands are at your hip level and elbows are by your side but not rigid.
- Gripping tightly with your legs
Riding is more about your body and position than grip over the reins. Your muscles should be engaged and active as opposed to being tense. Clenching your body, especially your upper and lower leg is not only exhausting but is a cue to move forwards. Tensing and gripping will make you and the horse tense and uncomfortable.
Fix: Let your leg hang from the hip, allowing your body weigh to fall from the hip. Keep your foot under you rather than pushing your leg forward or back. Imagine there is a line from your ear, shoulder and hip to your heel.
- Drawing your knees up to your torso
Many new riders look like they are sitting in an arm chair when they first get into the saddle.
Fix: Work on letting your leg hang down in a supple position and ensure you maintain peg alignment. Don’t pinch your knees up as a reactionary measure.
- Standing on your toes
This regularly happens when people are learning to trot. Beginners tend to lift themselves out the saddle by hopping out the saddle and standing on your toes. This will result in you losing the rhythm of the trot and instead double bouncing heavy onto the saddle. Inevitably causing an uncomfortable experience for the horse and rider and both being unbalanced in the trot.
Fix: Work on keeping your lower leg still and your feet under you. Learn to use your core muscles to lift you in the trot as apposed to your feet.
- Pushing your feet into the stirrups
Pushing your feet too far into the stirrups is dangerous if your keep get stuck. It is also not helpful in maintaining good balance or good position.
Fix: Work on placing your stirrup on the widest part of your feet, the ball of your foot. Maintain proper leg position by merely resting your feet in the stirrups.
- Holding your breath
Even experienced riders do this when concentrating or slightly nervous. However when beginner riders are tense they hold their breath.
Fix: Relax, smile and enjoy. Try to breath with the rhythm of the horses movements.
- Bad Posture
Slouching is a very common mistake for all riders. However it is hard to control a horse while hunched as it greatly affects your balance. This prevents the horse from properly adjusting its weight to the rider and ultimately means a stiff horse and rider.
Fix: Relax and sit up striaht. Instead of being ramrod straight or hunched keep your chin up and look where you are going. Adjust your body to the movement of the horse, while keeping your shoulders back by opening your chest. Ensure you stay supple and tension free.
- Letting your reins get too long
New riders do not adjust their hands throughout their lesson. This leaves the reins too long or too short and means the contact on the bit is lost and so the horse and rider cannot communicate. The rider then compensates by pulling too hard on the horses mouth to gain control.
Fix: Riders are constantly adjusting and re-balancing themselves according to the needs of the horse. Riders need to move their hands to the horses movements allow your elbows to be flexible like hinges. Learn how to shorten and loosen your reins as you go. If you are nervous do not hold tight onto the saddle.
- Pulling hard on the reins
Yanking hard on the reins not only confuses the horse, but it hurts the horse. By pulling the horses mouth it says stop but if you keep your leg on it signals to go forward. Doing this over a long period of time will desensitise the horse and it will begin to ignore these aids or even react angrily to being ridden.
Fix: Feel the horses mouth by gently squeezing and half halting. Hold the reins firmly but lightly, ensure that you are not pulling.
- Look where you are going
New riders tend to look at the horses movements rather than ahead at where they are going and where they want to be. Looking down at the horse affects your posture and makes your body stiff, this causes the horse to similarly feel stiff and uncomfortable.
Fix: Look ahead and where you are going. This improves your balance and cues the horse of where you intend to go. Keeping our chin up and eyes forward automatically improves your position.
Any Questions leave a comment
Keep Calm and Ride On x0x0x