What is riding and what does it mean?
Horseback riding or riding has been a millenary form of transport and refers to the way in which man unfolds on the back of a horse. It is a very rewarding activity, which allows you to develop sports such as jumping, dressage, eventing and polo. In addition, it offers us the possibility of giving us the pleasure of disconnecting from the World, traveling along roads and getting to know landscapes.
What is Equestrian Tourism?
The Equestrian Tourism is an activity that combines the love of horse riding with the interest of visiting different regions, provinces and countries, allowing us to know other cultures, other people and other gastronomy.
Is it difficult to ride a horse?
The practice of horse riding is known as equitation and it is relatively simple to start in it, at least to be able to take walks in the field. Then, if it attracts us, we will probably feel the need to learn more about how to ride better and deepen the knowledge about our friend: the horse. The degree of improvement will depend on each one, depending on how far we want to go, either as a sport or as ability to ride cross country, circumventing all types of terrain and obstacles.
Different ways of Horse Riding
The rider can handle the horse in different ways, what is known as “aids”. The aids are signals that are given through the corporal movement of the rider, the reins or a leash, the pressures of the calves and heels, or his voice.
The set of aids allows the rider to have under his control the movement of the horse’s extremities.
Animals that are well tamed and trained react to subtle aids that are barely noticed by other people.
One example was the horse called “John the Intelligent” who supposedly knew about mathematics, when in reality he perceived through the voice and body language of his owner how many times he had to drag his hoof on the ground to give the result of the addition or subtraction The different ways of riding and handling an animal differ in the equipment and accessories necessary for the horse to be mounted, as well as in the aids that are transmitted to the equine, all according to the principles of caring for the animal so that it has good health and a useful life of approximately 20 years.
The horses have three gaits of march: the walk, the trot and the gallop. In the trot and gallop there is a moment of suspension in the air and the horse does not touch the ground with any of its legs. Some breeds also have other gaits, like for example the “paso llano” and the tölt, among others, that are very comfortable gaits for the rider and allow him to travel long distances without getting tired.
We must say that all these marches need the rider to give the aids or signals to the horse corresponding to each of them, clearly, to avoid confusion in the march of the animal.
Equipment and accessories needed for horse riding
There are different types of saddles, which are intended to provide comfort and safety to the rider, also distribute the weight of the rider on the back of the animal. Depending on its purpose, the characteristics of the saddles are different. For example, the jumping saddle has short stirrups, just like the one used for horse racing, since it allows the rider to lean forward and thus achieve the maximum speed of the animal. Although, the saddle for training is long and deep while the cowboy type saddle has to be comfortable to withstand many hours riding.
Apart from the saddle, different kinds of headbands or reins, bridels or halter are used to transmit the signals to the animal.
There are also elements to protect the legs of the animal, such as bandages used to strengthen their tendons, joints and ligaments.
At present they are re-using, increasingly, the martingales or tying reins, whose function is to help the rider to push the horse or maintain the position of his head, which is part of the dressage and the classic training of the equine.
In our opinion, the use of these martingales or sets of leashes to promote or control the position of the head of the horse, is part of the set of practices that ignore the principles of the Theory of Learning and scientific studies on how to learn from horses, all basic concepts of the science of horsemanship. For more information on this topic, we recommend visiting the website of the International Association of Horse Riding Sciences: http://equitationscience.com
Benefits of riding
Riding a horse, apart from being very pleasant, brings many benefits.
We have already said that horse riding can be a unique experience if we decide to ride freely in nature, visiting places where you can only reach on horseback. As if this were not enough, this activity also gives us a wide range of physical and psychological benefits such as those mentioned below.
The differentiating element of the riding activity is the interaction with the animal. The more it is practiced, the more coordination is achieved, and this implies for the different gaits (walk, trot or gallop) a permanent action of abdominals, back, buttocks and legs, as well as a special sense of balance and self-esteem; it occurs when the horse responds to the aid of the rider.
Physical benefits of horse riding
a) Regulates muscle tone, working abdominals, back, buttocks and legs, which helps shape our physique.
b) Improve vertical and horizontal balance.
c) It produces relaxation of the muscles.
d) The trunk remains erect, which favours the posture and its correction. In the case of women, work back and shoulders, and improve the position of the bust. Contributes to decrease the flaccidity of the muscles of the chest area.
e) Being aware of the different changes in the pace of the horse’s gait allows favouring the coordination and reflexes.
f) Improves the perception of our body posture also favouring the acquisition of laterality.
Psychological benefits of horse riding
a) Horse riding favours our confidence, control of our emotions and improves our self-esteem to feel that we achieve, through our aid, to have under control the animal.
b) Having the horse under our control improves our concentration and attention capacity, improving our memory.
c) Having the horse under control reinforces feelings such as respect and responsibility.
d) Help overcome our fears and better manage problems. As we learn to communicate with the horse through the aids that we give, we improve the ability to resolve conflict situations that may arise. This moves us away from fear and helps us solve problems quickly.
Horse riding is a very versatile activity
Horse riding allows the most varied activities, from riding in different types of terrain such as beaches, plains, mountains; share with groups of friends, practice different equestrian sports such as jumping, dressage, eventing, or participate in team games such as the practice of polo that brings together more followers every day.
We can start riding horses from three years old until the age when we have the physical possibility to move with some ease.
Here we make a special mention of breeds that are “paso”, that is to say that they do not trot, especially the Peruvian Paso Horse that by the smoothness of its walk, the flat step and the speeds that it reaches in this march (12 to 15 km / h), allows older people, with hip or spine problems have stopped riding on trot breeds because they are hard to walk, have the possibility of climbing a horse that, in addition to their energy and reaction to helps the rider, is very comfortable and returns any older amateur the possibility of returning to feel past emotions. The horse riding is equaliser because the ages and even disabilities disappear, since this animal does not make distinctions, it is only necessary to mount it according to some guidelines that we can all practice.
How is the activity of riding in Europe developed?
In Europe, there are many options for those who decide to do horse riding. The most important is the presence of equestrian centres or equestrian clubs in the vast majority of European countries. In them, we can leave in pension our horse, so that the centre or club is responsible for feeding him and his health, as the case may be. In addition, they also have the option of giving a minimum training during the week. So that the owner can attend the equestrian centre or club when he wishes and go riding, if the centre is located near the countryside, or perform some equestrian sports.
If you do not own a horse, the equestrian centre can provide it to you. Likewise, if you want to start riding, you will be given the necessary classes to start riding.
There are also residences in the countryside that have these animals and that offer the activity of horse riding, that is, practicing equestrian tourism in different places in each country.
For this practice, there are Tour Operators specialised only in equestrian tourism that offer horse riding holidays in different parts of the world, allowing to contract their services in any country in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America or South America.
Also, throughout Europe there are horse riding associations with national scope of all kinds that tend to support the practice of riding in its different variants. These organizations train instructors and teachers who work in equestrian centres, in addition to setting standards and guidelines for the practice of horse riding. Among the most important we can point out the National Horse Federations or Associations of the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Portugal.
We can affirm that the great passion of horse riding counts in Europe and in the rest of the world with an infrastructure that will help us to enjoy this exciting activity.
How to ride horses for the first time?
Here are some details to keep in mind when horse riding for the first time:
a) Obviously, to practice horse riding we must have a horse, but if we do not have it we can go to the equestrian centre or equestrian club closest to it and there they will provide us with it; If not, we can also buy the services of horse routes offered by the different providers, as we have explained.
b) It is advisable to have riding trousers, riding boots with leather soles, not rubber, a safety helmet, comfortable clothes and a pair of riding gloves, depending on the case. We do not mention spurs because it is for advanced riders. All these elements can be purchased in equestrian stores that exist in sufficient quantity throughout Europe, and also in different parts of the world.
c) If the practice will be riding in the open field, it is also necessary to carry a canteen or plastic bottle with water to hydrate, sunscreens to cover hands, arms, neck and face, to avoid the effects of the sun, especially if the riding takes several hours. This practice is convenient to do in a group. If it comes out alone it is important to put some first aid items in the saddlebag.
d) If you have a horse in addition to the aforementioned, you must have all the equipment for the horse, namely: full saddle, appropriate for the practice you intend to perform (consult an instructor), reins, a halter to tie the horse in case of riding in the field, block head, eventually a whip, a toilet equipment such as brushes and scrapers to groom the horse before saddling it.
e) It is important to have insurance to ride in case an accident happens. Riding is not dangerous if you learn step by step under the professional instructions of a coach. Having solid training is the basis for obtaining the highest security, in addition to possessing all the necessary equipment and accessories.
It is also important to highlight the following:
a) We can ride horses at any age (from three years to 80 years or more according to general physical condition).
b) We do not need to have a physical quality in particular, even people with physical or mental disabilities can ride horses. Like any other physical activity, it is better to have a certain general physical state for your practice, but this is not something exclusive. In addition, the practice of the activity will contribute to achieve a physical improvement.
c) It is highly recommended to go to an equestrian centre for an instructor to give us the minimum classes to begin with the practice of horse riding, and explain how to prepare and treat the horse. In Ampascachi we offer a program to learn to ride in the Traslasierra Valley.
d) It is always better to start riding a horse of middle age (ten years), well trained, that also has quiet character. It is not convenient to start riding with young horses that tend to have more temperament.