Working with Horses
Horses can sense if you like them or not, so it is very important for the person that is working with the horse to really like them! The person working with them should also be the person who will be riding and showing the horse.
Always try to think of your horse as being similar to a young child who weighs nearly half of a ton. It doesn't understand many of the things you are asking it to do. Be quiet and in control and never get angry at your horse. If you want to know how the horse is feeling when it tries to do something it has never tried before, you might try standing on your head, learning a new dance step, or a simple gymnastic trick. It won't take long before you will understand how the horse is feeling.
Have you ever been so tired that you thought you could fall asleep standing up? Well, some horses can and they don't lay down for days! The only way you might know if they are sleeping is that they do shut their eyes.
Getting Off on the Right Foot
Did you ever wonder why you are always supposed to ride your bike on the right side of the road, but you're supposed to walk on the left side? Rules make it easier for everybody to do what they should, so there are no surprises. Be consistent, so that your horse will know what to expect, too. That's why most riders are trained to get on a horse on their left side, even though a well-trained horse will also let you get on from the right side.
The knights in the Middle Ages usually faced the back of their horse when they climbed on so the sword that was hanging on their right side would swing out of the way after they put their left foot in the stirrup and lifted their right leg over the saddle. Many people believe that is why we climb on the same way today. As you climb on, be sure you never bump the horse's back as you swing your right leg over the horse!
When its time to get down, slip your shoes out of the stirrup, swing your right leg over the back of the saddle and slide both legs down to the ground. Riders wanting to ride on a camel usually ask that the camel to lower themselves to their knees so the rider can get on them, while elephants let their riders walk up their trunk. You could try looking in books or going on the Internet to see how people get on mules, donkeys, alpacas, llamas, or ostriches.
Balance is important when you swing up into the saddle. One way to practice your balance is to use a large log placed on a bed of soft straw. Once you are used to climbing on, sitting down, and balancing, you can try having a pillow fight with a friend to see who can stay on the log for the longest time!
What is the most important piece of equipment you need after you buy your horse? It's the saddle, of course! Each saddle is made for a certain sport, a certain size of horse, and a certain size of rider. You have to try the saddle on your horse and you have to try on the saddle. Being “saddle sore” can be true for both the horse and rider! Size and fit is important, so they have saddlehorses to hold saddles that kind of look like sawhorses. You just have to keep trying the saddles that are placed on these saddlehorses until you find the right size.
If you happen to have an old sawhorse, maybe you can store your saddle on it. Saddlehorses are sometimes found in tackrooms (the place where you store all your horse care stuff). Your saddle and all your other leather equipment needs to be wiped off, cleaned with saddle soap and then oiled, if it is new.
Can you find the two identical saddles?
When you put a saddle on a horse the first time, have someone hold your horse, so it doesn't move away. Carefully swing the saddle over its back after you are sure you have fastened down everything on it that might move. Then tighten your “cinch” if you're using a Western saddle, or the “girth” if you're using an English saddle. Make sure your horse hasn't taken a deep breath to keep you from pulling it tight or you might find yourself under the horse instead of on top of him when the horse lets his breath back out again!
If you want to make your own soap like saddle soap, ask an adult if you can use soap chips that are left over from the bathroom. Place the chips in a bowl and add water to it, letting it slowly dissolve into liquid soap. Now your new soap is ready to go in a pump dispenser!