A typical Beginner Horse Riding Lesson with Faith Equine Connection.
Imagine this. You’ve had a busy week and you’ve been looking forward to the first proper horse-riding lesson of your life! Situated east of Newmarket, north of Toronto, you arrive at Faith Equine Connection and drive past the two gargolyes at the gate, past the house to the barn. You feel a little bit anxious as you park your car but you soon feel at ease as Faith greets you and shows you around.
Faith has been teaching riding for over thirty years, in England, Italy, the USA and Canada, and has formed her own style and method, having put together all the most effective techniques she has learned and practiced over the years. She has great empathy for both her students and her horses and a wealth of experience to call on in any situation. You know you are in good hands.
Before your first horse riding lesson, there will be a waiver to sign and, if you don’t have your own current safety standard helmet, there is a selection for you to try on. If you don’t have the right boots for riding (a sturdy boot with a small heel), there is also a selection of boots in a variety of sizes. You will typically spend two hours at the barn, one hour in the saddle and one hour handling, grooming and tacking up your horse.
Meeting your horse.
Then you will be introduced to your horse. You may go with Faith and fetch the horses from the paddock or your horse may be waiting for you in her stall.Catching horses in from their paddock is part of the education you’ll eventually receive.
Then comes the grooming, you will be assisted with this and the different brushes and equipment will be explained to you as you go along. Grooming is a great time to get to know your mount, their personality and their size.
Then starts the actual horse riding lesson! You lead your horse into the arena. There will be a short time of leading the horses around and learning how to move them where you want from the ground. This is a perfect time to have explained to you the function of the rider’s leg on the side of the horse when riding and also the function of the reins, both on the horse’s neck and in it’s mouth from the bit.
Faith will then demonstrate how to mount up, where your legs should sit against the horse and how to hold the reins.
Then comes the part you’ve been waiting for! You swing your leg over and you’re in the saddle! It feels high up and it MOVES!!
The horse starts to walk! Faith will be leading your horse from the ground, keeping an eye on you and giving you reassurance and advice as you go along.
From there on things vary depending on the rider, their body awareness and comfort level. Faith will probably attach your horse’s halter to a long rope, the ‘lunge line’ and she will gently send the horse in circles around her. That way you, the rider, can relax and concentrate on the feelings underneath you and how your body is reacting, knowing that she is controlling the speed and direction of your horse. Faith generally teaches a rider through walks and halts, on to trotting – both posting and sitting! Yes! In your first horse riding lesson with Faith you will experience safely trotting, without bouncing! Hopefully, you will be laughing out loud by that point!
Every horse riding lesson will include some stretching and balancing exercises, they usually come in the middle of the lesson, when both you and your mount have warmed up. They are initially carried out at the halt. Horses like this part!!
Then will come some practice at learning how to feel for the movement of your horse and how to move freely with it. The rhythmic swaying from side to side is great for the back! You can even learn to identify which foot is hitting the ground at any given moment – without looking down – just from the feel of the movement!
Towards the end of your allotted hour, you will be walking around the arena without anyone leading you, turning, stopping and moving off again, all on your own!
Then it will be time to dismount. You will be supported and helped down and you will hug your horse!
Then it’s back to the barn where you will untack the horse, take off the saddle and bridle, wash the bit and learn how to put them away in the tack room. You will groom your horse again and, in winter, put its blanket back on and take it back to the paddock.
You will be feeling exhilarated and excited to tell your friends and show them the photos that were taken while you were doing all of the above! You will want to come back – because the second ride could be a trail ride in the beautiful forest, weather permitting!
Faith Arnold. Faith Equine Connection. March 2017