Have you been away from horses for months, years, or decades, but lately you find yourself fantasizing about getting back in the saddle? Maybe you have some fears: you won’t be good at it anymore or you might fall and hurt yourself. Whatever your reasons, if you think it’s time to get back on a horse, here are some tips to help you have a smooth ride.
#1 - Don’t get frustrated when you aren’t as good as you used to be.
The skills for any sport fade as you spend time away from it, but relearning skills is usually quicker than learning them the first time around. Give yourself a break and try not to stress about your lack of talent when you’re first getting back on a horse.
#2 - Spend time with horses before getting on one.
Even if you don’t have a fear of falling, you’ll feel more comfortable if you can groom and give treats to one or more horses before getting on the back of one. If you’re feeling nervous about riding again, you may want to schedule several grooming sessions before a riding lesson.
#3 - Don’t commit to a barn, instructor, or horse immediately.
Give yourself time to look around. Speak to barn managers on the phone. Look for one that offers the specialty you’re interested in. Ask if there are any other adult students. Even then, take a few lessons before fully committing to one place.
#4 - Go for a trail ride.
If you aren’t sure you’re ready to invest in riding lessons just yet, take a trail ride. The horse already knows what it’s doing, so you can just focus on feeling comfortable in the saddle again while enjoying some local scenery.
#5 - Attend a riding clinic.
If you have the time and money, a week-long riding clinic may be the best way to hop back in the saddle and get going as quickly as possible. Think summer camp minus making macaroni necklaces.
#6 - Make it an appointment.
It’s so easy to tell yourself you’ll do something tomorrow, or next week, or next month. If you really want to get back into riding, make horse time a standing appointment. It may be every Saturday afternoon, or Wednesday evenings, whatever works for your schedule. It’s important to stick to your schedule while riding becomes a new habit.
#7 - Make friends with horse lovers.
People who already know, ride, and love horses will better understand your desire and need to get back in the saddle--plus they’ll have great tips for you. They might be able to recommend a local barn or trainer or they might suggest a brand of boots that they love. Best of all, they’ll never ask why you’re spending so much time in a barn.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun! That’s why you wanted to get back into riding in the first place, right? Don’t get so caught up in how much you’ve forgotten that you fail to enjoy the experience.