Every year we get calls from delighted but frightened new horse owners. "We've just bought this horse for our child
- now what do we do?"
Our best recommendation is riding lessons. Preferably BEFORE the sale is completed. The horse
a beginner needs for the first 6 months of riding is not the same horse that will be fun later on. It doesn't matter so much
where you get the lessons, as that you get them. For the parents too. There is much to know about owning & handling
large animals that cannot be learned from books. Lessons are an investment in safety.
If you need a gift to put in a
package, use a lessons gift certificate - any reputable stable will come up with something along that line. Or box up basic
safety gear like blue jeans (ever been dragged through brush at a gallop?), a hard hat (made to safety standards of motorcycle
helmets -- much stronger than bicycle helmets), or boots (Western "Roper's" work fine - leather sole, low but present
heel, ankle support).
Should I ride English or Western?
What is the difference?
Basic horsemanship is just communication with the horse. Most of the basics such as ballance, rhythm, coordination,
and cues are the same with any riding style. The difference between different styles of riding stems from what you want
to do on horseback.
If you envision yourself trail riding, racing around barrels, or chasing cows on horseback, then Western riding is for
you. Western pleasure riding in the show ring is very calm, controlled, and slow. The Western saddle has wide
fenders down each side to protect a horse travelling through brush. It also has a saddle horn in front of the rider
to which a rope can be attached.
If you envision jumping fences like in the Olympics, fox hunting, doing dressage work, or racing like a jockey,
then English riding is for you. These saddles are built with fewer layers of leather and no saddle horn to get in the
way of leaning forward to jump when necessary.
Good gifts for beginner English riders are lightweight riding gloves, jodpur boots, or a hard hat.
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