By: Lindsey Seabuagh
Riding a horse is something that fascinates most people. The older movies and older TV shows have horses all throughout it, and the actors make it look so easy to just jump on to the horse’s back. These shows and movies allowed a lot of people to believe that they could ride any horse, no matter the level of experience of the rider or the horse. For example, I once helped give a riding lesson, and the girl pointed to one of the horses in the stalls in the riding arena that looked pretty to her, and said, “I want to ride that one”. I knew that horse in the stall. He was just 2-3 years old, and had barely had a saddle on his back, been ridden maybe two times, and each time the trainer had ended up almost being thrown off his back. That was not the horse for her to be riding, no matter how pretty the horse was.
A pretty horse can sometimes be the craziest, which is why a lot of new horse owners have issues. They find a horse that is very attractive looking, but don’t test them out first, and they have a lot of behavior problems because they based their purchase on looks.
A girl or person that has just started or has never ridden before should not start on a horse that barely knows how to be ridden. Not all horses know how to turn with the use of the reins, or even how to stop, or take commands like, “Whoa”, or kiss or kick to make it go. The best, first horse is one that has been ridden for years, experienced and is well-known by an instructor and owner, and is known to be trusted with a new rider. Some horses know how to test a person, and they are very good at picking out a person that does not know how to ride . That is why it is a good idea if a person doesn’t know how to ride, or is on a horse they have never ridden before, to ask the owner about the horse and wear a helmet.
Wearing a helmet is a good idea for anyone, no matter the experience level because it gives extra protection in case something does happen. Even though it doesn’t look “cool”, it can save a life.
There has been a recent death of an experienced barrel racer, Lara Dewees, who died in a freak, barrel-racing accident, which may have been prevented if she wore a helmet. You can read more about it here: http://www.horsecollaborative.com/death-of-barrel-racer-raises-helmet-debate/
Her death has raised the ongoing debate of a mandatory wearing of helmets for competition. The article above made a great point:
“Inevitably, all riders when talking to non-horse friends, get the same question; Isn’t it dangerous to ride a horse? And while most of us pass it off with a smile and a shrug and a “nah, it isn’t so bad,” the answer is simple.
Yes. Riding a horse is very dangerous.”
So before ever mounting a horse, make sure you know the possible danger. Also, make sure you feel confident with the horse, the person telling you the horse is ok to ride, and the environment, and most importantly:
MAKE SURE THAT YOU WEAR A HELMET !!!