Motivation and fitness
Some tips for the beginner riders and their instructors.
As riding is an active sport, any basic fitness that may have been developed through general activities (such as swimming, walking, running, cycling…) will help in developing the skills and coordination for riding more quickly. We all ride for a variety reasons and when we initially start in this sport it is quite normal to use muscles that haven’t had to work in the same way before. It is usual to experience some degree of muscle soreness when learning to ride; this can either be part of a feeling of well-being – achieving a newly learnt skill – or to be unconfortable if the new rider has been trying to do too much too soon.
A novice rider often takes lessons on a once-per week basis, mainly during the week-end. During the riding session the instructor should be aware of the rider’s fitness and consequentely his ability to cope with learning newly acquired skills of balance and coordination when on a horse. In the first few lessons, frequent rest periods should be given to allow the beginners to recover his fitness and to reflect on how well they are progressing.
It is a good idea for the beginner to book in a series of lessons on a weekly basis as this will help aid motivation and provide a progressive programme to look forward as they learn the basics. Initially private lessons of 30 minutes will be the most suitable, these may start as a lead-rein or lunge lesson. Once the beginner has mastered the basics skills of steering in walk and trot, maintaining balance, and has developed an awareness of how to communicate with the horse, he will be able to join in a class lesson. Class lessons have three or more people in them and allow those of a similar standard to learn ride together. This is also a good way for beginners to socialize and learn new skills with similar levels of riders.
Anyone is able to ride and people come in all shapes and sizes. It is important to be aware of different body shapes and how they can influence the ability of ride. It is important that individuals know and understand their body shape and that instructors are aware and familiar with the body shape and its criteria so that they can find the best solution and do the best for both rider and horse. In fact, understanding natural shape will allow the instructor to choose the most suitable horse for the rider and to help them adjust to a suitable position when riding.