When the days get longer, fields and forests beckon. After the long winter, in which you have probably ridden a lot in the riding arena or on the field, you are certainly looking forward to a ride as much as your horse. And the young horses, who are still completely inexperienced and who will be ridden in this spring, would like to go on their first ride. There are a few tips to make it easy for everyone.
For the horse as a flight animal, what it does not know can quickly become frightening. It can be a cyclist or a garbage can – horses are frightened of everyday objects and encounter them if they are not familiar with them. For you, this means that you can prepare your horse specifically for such situations before the first ride. You can start in winter with groundwork, in which you show your horse everything that it has not yet seen. The training not only offers variety, but it also makes your horse safer off-road.
You should also practice safe leadership. In the terrain there can always be situations in which it is better to dismount – then your horse should definitely be easy to steer from the ground, even if it is possibly excited and is afraid of something.
When you can lead your horse safely and have shown him some “terrible” things, you can start walking. What sounds silly to many riders at first is really ideal for getting your horse used to riding out. They feel safe with their people, who may courageously advance on “dangers”, and get to know encounters with other road users. It’s easiest to take a walk after a training session when your horse has already walked a little and is no longer cocky. Then you will probably follow you relaxed on your walk.
To be on the safe side, you should of course always wear sturdy shoes and, if possible, gloves. On walks with inexperienced horses, I prefer to use a cavesson, but a rope halter or a bridle is also a way to lead your horse really safely. A slightly longer rope, like the one you use for groundwork, is recommended. If you regularly explore the area on foot, your horse will almost automatically be safe in the terrain.
The Equipment for the Ride
When the time comes that you want to explore the terrain in the saddle, suitable equipment will help you for more safety: a riding cap is essential, but a safety vest is also recommended. For some riders, the feeling of being better protected helps to radiate more calm and serenity for the horse. And that such a vest protects your back in an emergency is also not unimportant.
For the horse, I personally recommend a bridle or cavesson, in which a bit is buckled. Of course, many horses are ridden safely and reliably without a bit, but I prefer to use a bit for rides with young and inexperienced horses. The impact is possible a little better if necessary. If you prefer to ride without a bit, try whether you can ride with four bridles – then your horse can run bitless in a relaxed manner and you can fall back on a bit if necessary.
Which saddle you use is a matter of taste, the main thing is that it fits your horse and that you sit securely. I have more grip with stirrups, but if you can get along well without a stirrup and with a riding pad or felt saddle – why not?
I think auxiliary reins are more of a nuisance, the only exception is a martingale, which prevents you from banging your head, but has to be buckled long enough. By the way, a whip can also be helpful to remind drivers of the required safety distance.
Today It Starts!
If possible, use your horse’s herd behavior and ask a fellow rider to accompany you with a calm, experienced horse. By the way, a buddy like this also helps your horse on walks. It is important that the second horse is really fearless, should it panic, your inexperienced horse will of course be frightened too. In addition, your fellow rider should deliberately be considerate of you – it is better not to take someone who suddenly shoots at full gallop along the dirt road!
The ideal day for a first ride is warm and sunny. In the cold and wind, older horses like to be livelier and like to hop to the side. If possible, lunge or ride your horse a little beforehand. Even a relaxed morning in the pasture, where your horse could let off steam, makes your horse more comfortable on its first day out. To put it more simply: Ride out when your horse has already walked a bit and is completely relaxed. Then your first ride will be a pleasure for both of you!