It's the first post of February which means that today is the second post of the Beginnings series.
For those of you who may have missed the first post called Beginnings of Horses, you may not know that all throughout this year there will be a Beginnings post as the first post of every month. This series is all about the beginnings of different things in our sport.
For those of you who are new to the horse world or are just new to riding, this post will help give you the basics.
There are three basic paces (which we call gaites) to a horse: walk, trot and canter. As you get more experienced on a horse, you will learn that there are different variations and movements you can do within each gate.
There are also different riding styles within horseback riding such as western, english, racing, polo and vaulting. English and western are the most common riding styles and within them you have different disciplines. In western riding, you will find disciplines like barrel racing, roping and pole bending. English riding will have disciplines like dressage, jumping and eventing. In short, there are many variations in this sport to choose from.
For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the english discipline when it comes to the basic riding position.
Riding with the correct position is something that all of us struggle with, not just the beginners. In fact, you can look at your favourite equestrian athletes and find them making mistakes. Ideally, you want two imaginary lines always present. You want a line from the horse's mouth to your elbows as well as a line from your ear to your heel (refer to the picture below). This will give the rider the most stability in the saddle.
As I'm sure you've also heard, keeping your heels down will also give you strength and balance while riding. One thing to remember with your leg position is that you shouldn't grip the horse's belly with your heels or your calves. The idea is to ride with your core, so your thighs should be the place of contact with the horse.
So I hope this gave you a sense of the beginnings of riding and your riding position. Of course, there is so much more involved in beginning to ride than what I have listed, but it will help get you started. Make sure to have someone around you that is experienced to help you out with anything you are unsure of until you are comfortable and confident around horses.
I hope you will all enjoy your weekend and will be routing for your country and your favourite athletes during the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I am watching the opening ceremony as I am finishing up this post. Being from Canada, most of the sports we do well in are in the winter Olympics (which I guess makes sense because of the long winters here and the strong passion for sports (like hockey especially)). I just love the sportsmanship of the Olympics and seeing all of the countries coming together to compete against the best athletes of the world. But if I'm honest, watching the winter Olympics only makes me even more excited for the summer ones! I'm sure, as horse people, that I am not the only one who feels this way.
Until next time, happy riding!