Ask any rider why you should ride and many would struggle to find an answer; not because there are no good reasons, but because there are so many. Horse riding is not just a sport, it’s a partnership. The physical and spiritual thrill of riding and the connection that can be achieved with a horse are hard to put into words but, let’s give it a go!
Firstly, riding can satisfy a number of different requirements; some people simply ride to relax and unwind outdoors on peaceful hacks. Others want to focus on training and learn new skills such as dressage or jumping. Also, a large number of people ride for the social benefits; the majority of our clients, old and new, make rewarding and lasting friendships here with people from all walks of life. Young or old, nervous or bold, there’s an aspect of horses and riding to suit everyone; it can be taken at any pace by people of all ages, and it’s no surprise to learn of the fantastic success and results achieved by dedicated organisations such as Riding for the Disabled – proof that horses are the gentlest and most generous of creatures.
Riding combines a cardiovascular workout with a rewarding mental challenge. It means time spent outdoors in the fresh air, it improves both balance and reflexes and helps tone the body (in particular the legs and core muscles), improves hand-eye coordination and joint mobility, it can increase muscle strength by up to 50% without adding bulk and, amazingly, can burn over 400 calories an hour!
So, if you’re thinking of learning to ride, or your kids have finally reached the ‘Can I have a pony? Can I? Can I?’ stage, then perhaps the most important factor for you to consider is choosing a good riding centre at which to do so. How well you progress, your safety, and how much you enjoy the overall experience are all reliant upon it! So here are some guidelines to ensure you get off to a flying start.
One of the best ways to find the perfect place for you and your family is by word of mouth recommendations from other horse riders in the area- But if you’re totally new to the equestrian world, you may not have anyone to ask.
First of all, consider what you want from the experience… Would you like to have a structured lesson on a well schooled horse or pony in an arena, or would you prefer to go out on a supervised hack (pleasure ride) to see if riding is something you wish to pursue?
If you are looking for the latter, either a riding school or a trekking centre should be able to help you. But if you are keen to learn to ride competently from the basics upwards, then you will need to find a reputable riding school to help you achieve this.
Begin by compiling a shortlist of nearby riding schools in the local area. In order to find the perfect fit for you, it’s important to consider all of the local establishments and not just pick the nearest one, or the one with the flashiest advertising.
Particularly look for any centres which are displaying the A.B.R.S. (Association of British Riding Schools) logo, or are a B.H.S. (British Horse Society) approved centre.