Guest post by Louise Dando from In Due Horse.
Horses have always been a big part of my life.
I had my own during my teenage years. However, despite riding my friends horses, having a few different horses on part loan and taking riding lessons there have been large chunks of my adult life that have been horse free for one reason or another.
So I am going to share with you my 10 top tips for returning to riding!
1. Decide what you are aiming for.
Are you looking to buy a new horse or just take lessons? Are you looking to compete or are you happy trail riding?
Deciding this will be helpful when making decisions about everything later on. Like where to take lessons, what sort of horse to buy, where to board your horse & what your budget for all these things should be.
2. Start off steady.
So you’ve decided you want to return to riding. I suggest taking some lessons first, even if you are very experienced & you know that you will be buying a new horse soon.
This will get you back into it gradually, hopefully building your confidence each time you go. If you haven’t ridden in a long time this will give you a foundation to build from in the future with your new trusty steed.
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3. Get yourself organised and prepared.
If you are taking lessons, do your research, ask around for recommendations, go look around different yards before you decide which one is for you or try out a few to make sure you’ve found somewhere you like.
If you are buying a horse, make sure you take the time to prepare what you will need.
Before you bring your new fur baby home, do you have a vet? A farrier? The perfect place for him to live? All the right equipment that you will need? Insurance? The list can seem endless…
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4. Do what suits you.
Sounds silly but one time, I chose a well known riding stables as it had the best reputation and I persevered with lessons there despite not really having the best time. I did this because every review I had read & everyone I had spoken to had recommended this place.
Do ask around for recommendations but you have to choose what is best for you!
Also the same thing applies to finding that perfect yard for your new pony. Remember you pay a lot of money to ride & look after your horse, so it should be somewhere you enjoy and feel comfortable!
5. Find a suitable horse.
When you decide to return to riding make sure you find the perfect horse that you trust and one that won’t try to kill you the minute you get on. Whether this is your potential new horse or one you have been offered to ride.
My mentality has changed a lot since being a confident teen. Now I do not ride any old crazy horse just for a chance to ride.
If you are looking to buy make sure you buy a horse that will suit your needs & riding ability. Take the time to find the perfect one and don’t be tempted to buy a wildly inappropriate horse thinking you will be able to change a tonne of things he does or retrain him out of doing certain things.
Be realistic and remember your requirements and needs. You can feel an emotional attachment straight away, not always with a suitable horse!
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6. Find a friend.
Another time I found a horse to share with an old colleague at a really cool yard with all the facilities I could ever want. A horse walker, 3 arenas, a cross country course etc, but the people at the yard were not friendly and actually having a friend or two would have been far more fun than having all of those things!
7. Set a budget.
This is very important! The cost of keeping your horse sheltered, fed & shod can be expensive. Set a realistic budget that you can afford and add more if you are thinking of competing.
My advice would be to always have a contingency fund available for all those unforeseen expenses. Vet bills, rug repairs & for when your tack breaks at some crucial moment. It’s likely you will need it!
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8. Have a sense of humor.
Now every lesson may not go completely to plan, there will be times when you & your new horse just don’t see eye to eye.
Your well thought out plans may not be coming together as you thought they would – my thoroughbred used lose a shoe before every competition I entered. Honestly it’s like he knew!
But you know what try and have a laugh about it. You are back doing what you love. No one said it would be easy but I assure you it will be worth it!
9. Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is so easy to do. Don’t be too hard on yourself particularly when you are just starting back at it.
Particularly in the age of social media where every photo on Instagram is someone winning some championship on their perfect horse and you are struggling to get your horse to behave walking down the lane – don’t worry I’ve been there!
I am still there sometimes actually. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take the time to think of the things you have achieved instead.
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10. Have fun!
Don’t feel under pressure to do anything you don’t want to. It’s great if you want to compete, but it’s also great if you don’t. Jump if you want or not.
Just go have fun and if you follow some of these tips I’m sure you’ll be riding off into the sunset in no time!
Louise is a British girl living in France. When she is not writing about horses for her blog In Due Horse, you will find her riding Mya around the French countryside, who she started riding in May after a 7 year break. When she is not doing that she likes to watch crime documentaries on Netflix or videos featuring baby goats. Please follow her adventures on Facebook & Instagram @induehorse and follow the blog at www.induehorse.home.blog.