Horses are beautiful, majestic animals that humans have enjoyed riding for thousands of years. While riding a horse is a thrilling and enjoyable experience, it can also be intimidating—especially if it’s your first time. Your inexperience, however, shouldn’t prevent you from riding horses. From proper riding positioning to how to dismount, this beginner’s guide to horseback riding will tell you everything you need to know to hop on the saddle.
How to mount a horse
The first step to riding a horse is learning how to mount it. This step is often the most intimidating for new riders; however, using a mounting block can help make the process a little easier. Position the block, which resembles a small set of steps, on the left side of the horse—or whichever side riders typically approach the horse. If mounting from the left, stick your left foot into the stirrup while holding the reins in your left hand and resting it on the front of the saddle. Then, place your right hand on the back of the saddle and pull yourself up while swinging your right leg over the horse’s back. Lastly, slide your feet securely into the stirrups, and you’re ready to ride. If you’re really nervous about being able to mount a horse, consider starting with a pony—they typically measure around five feet (14.2 hands) from the ground to the withers.
Propper horseback riding position
There are two main styles of horseback riding—English and Western saddle. For beginning riders, the Western saddle is often easier because it helps you keep your balance and allows you to hold onto the horn if needed. While riding, make sure to sit up straight with your shoulders and back relaxed. You should sit in the lowest part of the saddle and hold the rains gently in each hand with your thumbs on top. You should keep your elbows in right angles and your forearms should follow the line of your rein.
Horseback riding gear and attire
Wearing the wrong riding gear or having the wrong equipment can easily ruin your horseback riding experience. Not only will you be uncomfortable, but you’ll also be putting yourself at risk of falling off the horse and injuring yourself. The most essential piece of horseback riding gear is a helmet. You should always wear one, regardless of your experience level, as it will protect your head in case of a fall. When it comes to your attire, you should wear long, thick pants to prevent chaffing and close-toed shoes with a smooth sole—a pair of low-heeled boots are ideal as the heel helps grip the stirrups and keep your feet from slipping through.
How to dismount a horse
Before dismounting, make sure that your horse is standing completely still. As a new rider, it may be beneficial to have someone hold the horse while you dismount. After getting both of your feet out of the stirrups, lean forward and swing your right leg over the horse in a smooth motion. Then hop off the horse.
If you’re interested in riding a horse for the first time, there is no better place to start than at Cala Mia Island Resort. Whether you’re on a Panama family vacation or a romantic getaway, our horseback riding excursions are a great activity for guests of all ages and experience levels. You can choose from our two tour options: a one-hour trek through a scenic trail in Panama’s native jungle and a three-hour cross-island trek around the beaches and forests of the island. Whichever tour you pick, you’re sure to have an incredible horseback riding experience here at Cala Mia Island Resort.