“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
When we think of horseback riding, our mind automatically switches to the countryside setting – the barn, the vast openness, and the welcoming solitude. People who live in the countryside almost always have exciting horseback riding anecdotes to share, scattered throughout their childhood memories. The connection between horses and ranch families feels so intuitive and effortless; it is no surprise that these people also become great riding instructors.
Movies and books have been the main catalysts for us urban dreamers who stumbled upon our interest in horses. I take this moment to thank my fourth-grade reading teacher for Anna Sewell’s timeless novel, Black Beauty, which became my own source of inspiration. Horseback riding as a hobby adds the best recreational touch to your life. Practice makes perfect, and there is no better way than taking riding lessons to celebrate this fulfilling hobby. People may have different expectations as they ride the learning curve, but they all have the same driving force – the love of horses.
Benefits of Horseback Riding
If you feel intimidated by the years since your last lesson as a kid and have decided to give up entirely, then – for lack of a better idiom – hold your horses! There are several reasons why horse lovers tend to gravitate back to their favorite hobby, and riding lessons make a good starting point with the following benefits:
Horseback riding requires you to be familiar with various basic and crucial aspects like grooming the horse and communicating effectively. With riding lessons, you get to practice different riding styles and adapt your equestrian skills on the ground. Horses have different personalities, and it is always fun to discover your own ways to interact with them. The one thing you do learn for sure is how true the saying goes – that you can really only lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink!
2. Therapeutic Escape
Horses are intelligent and loyal animals who make the most comfortable friendships you can count on. Horseback riding creates the perfect excursion for solitude lovers, letting the day’s weight crumble to dust. There is nothing like the companionable silence of a friend that coaxes your internal battles to quiet down and make room for the brain’s happy hormones.
3. Physical Fitness
People who enjoy horseback riding, or just being around horses, find the experience very enriching in terms of a healthy lifestyle. Taking regular lessons is also a way to introduce an exciting workout routine in your busy life. It helps you improve flexibility, increase coordination, and develop muscle strength.
4. Extension to Photography Skills
Natural landscapes and farmhouse aesthetics create impeccable photography results, especially for wildlife photographers. When the art of capturing a decisive moment meets the love of horses, you get the best of both worlds!
Different horseback riding styles
The two most common horseback riding disciplines are referred to as the English and Western riding styles. Their defining feature is the way saddles are placed on horses. Once you figure out your riding style, there are various sports and horse-riding events to try out within your chosen discipline. This is where you need professional riding instructors to guide your practices and discover the highs and lows you can work with.
In English riding discipline, the saddles are small and lightweight. Riders use both hands to hold the reins during the rise and trot. Reins play a key role in guiding the speed and direction, and riders focus on balance and coordination using their legs. Under the English discipline, you can pursue different equestrian sports such as dressage, jumping, and country pleasure.
Western riding discipline uses saddles that have a larger surface area, which is best suited for long trail riding. Unlike its English counterpart, Western horsemanship follows a slower gait – the jog – and so the rider has more freedom to hold the reins using one hand. This makes Western saddles a good choice for first-time riding lessons, especially for those adults who have decided on their tentative beginner steps. The Western style supports reining, trail riding, speed games, team penning, gymkhana, and basic equitation classes.
Some sports like endurance racing and competitive trail riding can be played using either discipline. Obstacle races and other team events on longer trails have veterinary assistance ready onboard to ensure the horses’ wellbeing. Horseback riding lessons teach you about the importance of kindness and respect towards the horses – and animals in general. This is also enforced as equine rights around the world, and any violation of horse safety and comfort falls under animal abuse.
Horseback Riding Lessons for Adults
The American Riding Instructors Association offers different certification programs and guidelines for instructors. US Equestrian is a governing body that sets ambitious milestones for horse lovers. The organization provides competitive training and education that steals the Olympic spotlight. It is always a good idea to enroll in classes that have competent instructors who are certified and recognized for their teaching practices. This ensures a safe learning environment for both riders and horses in terms of apparel, riding gear, and behavioral challenges.
Horses have different natural gaits based on speeds – the walk, trot, canter, and gallop – and your trainer will help you progress gradually through your preferred riding discipline and comfort zone. Here are a few examples of professional places to consider signing up with for your first-ever adult horseback riding lesson.
Hobbyists and competitive riders of all ages are welcome in Cavallo Farms, where they experience the joy of horseback riding through sports etiquette and responsibilities. The teams provide custom riding lessons that suit individual needs and turn every lesson into a trailblazing adventure. The farm creates a progressive learning curve from beginner to advanced levels. You can enroll in private lessons tailored to your expectations, or work in a group. There are countless opportunities taking you from basic grooming/leading/tacking skills to more complex riding styles. Cavallo Farms also organizes horse events and collaborates with officials from governing bodies like the US Equestrian and the United States Hunter/Jumper Association (USHJA).
Equine Life Solutions
With comprehensive riding lessons for kids and adults both, Equine Life Solutions is a mix of diverse communities and uplifting partnerships. The ELS adult riding program is a great platform to build natural interactions with horses and think from their perspectives on the ground. You can schedule an evaluation and plan different workshops to get the best out of your riding journey.
Black Butte Ranch
A complete recreation paradise, Black Butte Ranch is where the skyline replaces the skyscrapers of our cluttered urban lives. There is just nature in all of its majestic calm where you can hike, play golf, ride horses, book vacation homes, and host wedding events! BBR Stables have experienced teams guiding your horseback rides across Central Oregon trails. It is the perfect destination to fall in love with nature and allow the galloping strides to take you further and further away from all things negative.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”