Horse Riding in PA: How to Get Yourself Started

Small girl riding a horse

Have you been wanting to learn how to ride a horse but aren’t sure where to start? If so, you aren’t alone. In fact, seven million Americans ride horses each year making it an incredibly popular pastime.

Horse riding is a demanding but very rewarding sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. There is no better place to get started on this life-changing hobby than at Ridge Meadow Horse Farm in York, Pennsylvania. Here, you will get to see all that horse riding in PA has to offer.

Are you ready to experience the many advantages of being around horses? Read on to find out all about how to get started riding your first horse.

Benefits of Interacting With Horses

The benefits of working with horses go far beyond just the sport of horseback riding.

We know about emotional support animals like dogs, but did you know that horses can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to your mental health? Equine-assisted psychotherapy has people working with horses to gain self-confidence, help regulate emotions, and helps you learn responsibility among other things.

When you are riding a horse your brain gets a workout too because of how fast you have to think and make decisions while you ride. This means that riding a horse also helps you sharpen mental skills like your memory.

There are many great things that horse riding can do to help your body too! Core strength gets an impressive workout when horseback riding because the abdominal, hip, and back muscles are all used. Balance is another important skill that you will master when you spend time learning to horseback ride.

There is nothing more relaxing than getting out in nature, which happens frequently when you learn to ride a horse. Having time to spend in the fresh air with your horse will help you feel more relaxed and refreshed.

Horse Basics

Now that you know some of the incredible advantages of riding a horse, it’s time to learn about some basic horse information before you begin to ride.

Horses and humans have coexisted for thousands of years. Because horses naturally want to bond with their herd, horses can connect with humans in a way many other animals are not able to.

A horse has a main diet of tough grasses and uses large teeth called incisors to chew their food. Horses need to eat many times a day to keep their small stomachs full. To get enough food in their bodies, horses need to eat about two percent of their body weight in grasses a day.

When you see a horse in person, you will get to see just how big they are! You measure horses from the ground to their shoulders in a system known as hands, a unit of measurement first used back in Ancient Egyptian times. Each hand represents a length of four inches.

Horse Terminology

When you are getting ready for your first riding lesson, it will be important that you understand the lingo of the barn.

The first thing you will need to know is what people call different types of horses. A stallion is a term for an adult male horse while a mare is an adult female. A neutered male horse is called a gelding.

Foals are the name for any newborn baby horse. Colts are male horses that are under three years old while fillies are young females of the same age.

Horses come in a variety of different colors like self-explanatory black, gray, white, and chestnut. A pinto colored horse has distinctive white patterns on its fur while a palomino horse is characterized by a golden-colored coat with a white mane and tail. A bay horse is a brown horse with a black mane and tail.

There are some terms you will need to know about the supplies needed for riding a horse. In general, tack is the term used for any equipment used with a horse like a saddle, bridle, and harness.

How to Dress When Riding a Horse

When you are ready to go horseback riding, you can’t wear just anything to the barn. The right clothing not only will help you feel more comfortable on a horse but can also keep you safe on your ride.

When you are getting dressed for your first lesson, you’ll want to put down the shorts and choose long pants instead. Jeans or thicker leggings are great options. You can also buy special riding pants, called jodhpurs, that have leather sewn on to help make your ride more comfortable if you so desire.

Dressing your upper half is much less restrictive when you are going for a riding lesson. Depending on the weather, a t-shirt or sweatshirt will keep you comfortable as you ride.

You’re going to have to pay special attention to your feet as incorrect riding shoes can make your ride much more challenging. Finding comfortable boots with a low heel and thinner treads are perfect for keeping your feet in the stirrup.

Finally, you’ll need to add a helmet to your list of clothing items that you’ll need for your first horse ride to keep you head protected. When picking out a helmet, make sure to find a snug-fitting one that is American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM, and SEI labeled. These labels ensure your helmet is designed specifically for protection when riding a horse.

Horse Safety

Horses are no small or slow animals so learning how to be safe on them is a vital step to review before getting on your horse.

Not all horses are suitable for all riders. Matching your skill level with the appropriate horse is a key first step to keeping you and your horse safe. You will start with a horse that is good for beginner riders when you first learn how to ride.

Never try to learn how to ride a horse by yourself. Here at Ridge Meadow Horse Farm, an expert will tailor your lesson to your unique abilities.

Wearing the correct gear is another way to keep you safe on your horse. injuries to the head due to falling off of a horse are one of the most severe injuries that can happen during horse riding making helmet wearing a non-negotiable. In addition to your helmet, a safety vest can also be worn to protect your internal organs from a potential fall.

Getting to know your horse can help make them more at ease with you. When you take care of your horse and show it the attention it deserves, your bond and comfort level between each other will grow.

Getting to Know Your Horse

Just like humans, horses come with lots of different personalities! When you start working with a horse, you’ll need to strengthen your relationship with them to build your connection.

As you get to know your horse, start to pay attention to their body language. Your horse will tell you a lot about how they are feeling just with their facial expressions and body. Being able to cue into these signals can help you better communicate with your horse.

Grooming is an important part of caring for and connecting with your horse. Comb out the tangles in your horse’s mane, work with a body brush to get rid of any mud and dirt on your horse’s fur, and use a finishing brush to shine up your horse’s coat. Your horse will enjoy getting brushed and pampered!

Strengthen your connection with your horse by seeing him frequently. Show your love to your horse by giving lots of belly rubs, grass snacks, and attention.

Ridge Meadow Horse Farm is home to many horses with a wide array of skills and personalities. From gentle horses for beginner riders to more advanced horses, our charming horses can fit any need.

Basic Horse Gaits

A horse can travel at four different speeds, which are called gaits. Before you can start horse riding in PA, you will need to have a basic understanding of what each gait is. This can be explained by looking at the patterns that a horse’s feet hit the ground.

The four gaits that you will experience as a horse rider are a walk, trot, canter, and gallop. As a beginner rider, you won’t be galloping for a little while but will start off with a walk.

A trot isn’t as slow as a walk but also not as fast as a run. This is a two-beat gait that is taught after the walk is mastered.

Next up is the cantor. This three-beat gait is slower than a gallop and more controlled. A running horse with a four-beat gait is galloping, which is the fastest gait a horse can travel.

Before Your Trail Ride

When you first get to Ridge Meadow Horse Farm for your trail ride, there will be a few steps you’ll have to take before you are ready to ride.

You’ll need to be able to bridle and saddle the horse you are going to ride. A saddle is what you will sit on when you ride your horse. You will have to know how to put the saddle on your horse and fasten it correctly so that it won’t fall off.

A bridle is the piece of equipment that you will use to direct your horse where to go. The bit is a metal piece that goes inside of the horse’s mouth with a leather headstall that goes over your horse’s head and buckles into place.

Before you get out on the beautiful Pennsylvania trails, you will have to demonstrate that you can walk and trot on your horse. If you are not able to walk or trot yet, you are a perfect candidate for a riding lesson! Once you can master the basics of horse riding, you will be ready to hit the trail.

Riding Lessons

If it’s your first time on a horse, riding lessons are a great place to start. When you get to your first lesson, you’ll start by getting to know your horse and the area you will be riding in. This will help you both feel more comfortable before you get started.

Once you have been introduced to your horse and are in the arena, you will learn how to properly mount your horse safely. After that, it will be time to get used to how your horse moves by walking with your horse! An instructor will lead you around the arena so you can get used to riding your horse.

Getting comfortable steering your horse, getting your horse to start moving, and learning how to safely stop your horse are all beginner lessons you will work on. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to hit the trail!

Riding lessons aren’t just for beginners. Seasoned horse riders and competitive riders can also benefit from lessons from our expert riders.

Experiencing Horse Riding in PA

There is nothing quite like horse riding in PA with the scenic trails and nature to explore. If you live near York, Pennsylvania, you can’t go wrong riding a horse at Ridge Meadow Horse Farm, which has 200 acres of picturesque land for you to explore.

If you are ready to take to the trails, we are the place for you! Contact Ridge Meadow Horse Farm today to set up your trail ride!

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