The horse world can look like a pretty strange place to anyone just starting out.
Getting up at 6 A.M. is considered sleeping in, different and expensive clothes, and at times it seems like everyone is speaking in some sort of code! It can be overwhelming for a beginner trying to find their way into this strange new horse world.
If this sounds like you, rest assured you are not alone! Many of us have felt the exact same way. This is why I wanted to share 5 tips that will help anyone who is thinking about getting started in the horse world.
Tip #1: Research Everything!
The first thing you need to know about is, of course, the horse! Start with a simple Google search on the parts of the horse, and the parts of the hoof to become familiar with basic equine anatomy and the terminology. While you’re at it, watch some videos on how to pick out a horse’s hooves, and how to groom a horse. This knowledge will go a long way in helping you learn some other things once the horse is involved.
Speaking of some other things, horses have a lot of special gear which is generally called tack. Tack is differentiated according to the riding style or discipline. The one universal set of tack you will use the most is going to be the halter and lead rope. After that is where the style of tack branches off into English or Western styles, with the most noticeable difference between the two being in the saddles. Depending on which discipline you choose will determine the style of tack you will be using. I recommend doing another Google search to learn about the parts of the saddle and bridle, as well as watching videos on how to properly tack up a horse.
Probably the most important thing you need to research, in my opinion, is basic horse psychology. Horses don’t think like people! They are flight animals that communicate with other horses through body language – ear position, tail swishing, head shaking, licking their lips, etc. Having a basic level of knowledge on how horses use their body language to communicate, and knowing how to use your own body language to communicate with them as well, will help you get off to a great start with your new equine friend.
Tip #2: Observe
After you have done some research, and have a better understanding of the horse and tack, it’s time to take your first step into the horse world. Be aware though, just because you’ve done your homework that doesn’t mean you know everything you need to know about horses, you still have a lot more to learn! I recommend finding a good lesson barn near you that is willing to let you observe how they do things.
Observing a few lessons lets you see a barns culture, how they operate and it gives you a chance to see if the instructor’s personality and teaching style would be a good fit for you. Some barns are great with brand new beginners who have never been around horses, they are patient, kind, and willing to teach you. Other barns are better with riders who have some experience under their belts. You just need to find the one that is the best fit for you.
Tip #3: Get Involved!
Now that you’ve done your research, observed, and found a barn that is a good fit for you, it’s time to get involved! One option is to pay for lessons, or classes. But what if you’re like I was, and you don’t have a lot of money to put into learning about horses? A great option for you would be to consider becoming a “working student.” A working student is someone who works a set amount of hours for a barn in exchange for lessons. You can gain a ton of experience with horses as a working student; you get to be a part of the everyday functions of the barn.
Another great way to get started in the horse world is through volunteering. Volunteering is also a great option if you aren’t necessarily interested in riding, but still want to be around horses. There are many therapy barns, equine rescues, and other non-profit equine organizations that are always looking for volunteers to help with barn chores, therapy sessions, and farm maintenance. Even a local lesson barn may be willing to take on a hard-working volunteer.
Tip #4: How Involved Do You Want To Be?
Once you have a better idea of where you’re going to get involved, it is time to determine how involved in the horse world you want to be. It’s no secret that anything in life is going to take time and money, but I think most of us would agree sometimes horses can take up a little more time and money than your average hobby. Thinking about your own time and money – is this going to be a weekend hobby or a career for you? Do you want to compete in equine sports, or just casually ride out on the trails? Do you want to lease/own your own horse, or just simply be around horses? The beauty of the horse world is your options are limitless!
Tip #5: Do It Because You Love It!
Last, but most important is this, do it because you love it! You will certainly run into obstacles, possibly clash with a person here or there, put in a hard day’s work, or clean something only to have a horse mess it all up in a matter of seconds. However, if after all of that, you can’t think of anywhere else you’d rather be, then I would say you have found your place in the horse world.
Let us know if you have any other tips that helped when you were getting started in the horse world!
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