Riding the Right Horse
Written by Loryn Lamport, our Equestrian Manager.
One of the most valuable assets to any stable or equestrian center is having horses, as well as ponies that like to go trail riding and are good for lessons. At Golden Ocala, guests often come to our Equestrian Center having little-to-no experience atop a saddle. It’s great to have horses that work well with all levels of riders, but especially with beginners.
Learning to Ride a Horse
Learning to ride a horse is a process, similar to learning to drive a car or play a sport. Beginners must learn basic techniques, including how to:
- Mount the saddle
- Hold the reins
- Slow down
- Get off the saddle
It is important to remember that just like riders, horses come in different sizes, colors, personalities, and experience levels. Some horses require more coaxing, while others may be more rambunctious. For safety purposes, riders should ask their lesson program instructor about the age and experience level of the horse.
Matching Age and Experience Level
Generally speaking, older horses tend to be a better match for inexperienced riders because these horses are usually more familiar with all levels of riders and different types of surroundings. In comparing horses—older to younger—think about the first time you took a child to an amusement park:
You park the car, unbuckle their seatbelt and place them on the pavement to paradise. Their eyes, ears and toes are aimed for the prize. They approach the park jolted with excitement, ready to charge the gates. They aren’t slowing down for anything, not even your call to slow down. The tickets are handed off to the gatekeeper and they enter the park wearing a giant toothless grin. They immediately take off to the left, towards an ice cream stand, but when they are caught up with and denied the swirly treat, tears begin to spear from their eyes as they violently flail their hands.
Now, imagine if that over-excited, distracted, and emotionally sporadic child was actually a young horse with a rider saddled to its back. Like children, young horses can be excited or frightened by unfamiliar animals, loud machinery, and even moving vehicles. In contrast, the behavior of an older horse is more predictable because they have “been there, done that” and “seen it all.”
Come Enjoy a Lesson or Trail Ride!
To optimize your lessons and progression, keep in mind your past riding experience, fears, and goals. If your experience level is higher, a younger horse may offer a needed challenge to a more experienced rider. On the other hand, older horses may allow for quicker learning and growth of confidence in the saddle.
Lessons and trail rides are now available for our members at the Golden Ocala Equestrian Center for $40 an hour. Call 352-351-4937 to schedule a lesson!