Horse riding for beginners – Here’s what you need to know

So you want to start horse-riding? Congratulations. It’s an exciting sport that gets you out into the fresh air, with a beautiful, kind animal for a companion. What’s not to love? Here’s how to get your horse riding for beginners off to a great start.

Essential kit

You don’t need to have lots of expensive kit to start horse riding for beginners. You want to be sure you’re really hooked before you start shelling out on lots of stuff. But the first thing you absolutely need is a hat. Your head is valuable. The good news is that a riding school will have a selection of hats – sometimes called crash helmets - for you to borrow during your lesson. They may charge you a small fee (something like a pound) for this, but it’s the best way to get started inexpensively. If you are starting horse-riding through riding a friend’s horse, then you’ll need to borrow a hat or buy one. Look up your nearest saddlery and make sure your hat is fitted by an expert. Expect to spend upwards of £100 for a new hat.

Be well-heeled

The other non-negotiable piece of kit that you need to start horse-riding is a pair of boots with a small heel. Wellies are no good, as the thick sole can get stuck in the stirrup. A boot with a smooth sole and a small heel – not stiletto – will help you keep your foot in the stirrup but won’t get stuck in the unfortunate case of a fall.

The last thing that’s pretty essential, as with most exercise, is a stretchy pair of trousers. The horse doesn’t do all of the work and you will need to move, plus have enough stretch in your clothes to be able to sit comfortably in the saddle. Jeans aren’t really suitable as they can rub your legs. Jeggings, leggings and tracksuit bottoms are all good.

Remove jewellery

Take off your jewellery before you go riding, especially earrings, as they can get caught in your hat strap. Bracelets etc will just get in the way when you’re holding the reins. 

Nice-to-haves

Jodhpurs

Once you know you’re keen, then you may want to buy yourself some jodhpurs. These are trousers designed specially for riding to give you elastic support – they have plenty of lycra in them. Some have a nice supportive waistband to hold you in and offer support to your back. They also have padding around the inside of the knee to stop you getting rubbed on the saddle. They’re fairly inexpensive and a good upgrade on your leggings.

Waterproof jacket

A waterproof and or warm riding jacket is also a good idea. Your normal outdoor jacket isn’t ideal as it will catch on the back of the saddle when you ride. Riding jackets are cut with vents at the back to allow them to sit properly on the top of the saddle.

Gloves

Gloves are also useful as you will likely be out in all weathers and they help stop the reins from rubbing your fingers – especially if your horse is keen to get on with the job. You can get warm ones and waterproof ones quite inexpensively.

Body protector

If you’re an older rider, or particularly concerned about falling off, you might want to buy yourself a body protector. These are rigid pieces of foam, moulded to your body that absorb some of the concussion if you fall off. They can help to make you feel confident, especially if you’re riding a horse you don’t know out on the road for example or over some jumps. Just like a hat, a body protector is a little more expensive and it’s important that it’s fitted correctly by a reputable retailer with up to date fitting skills.

So there you have it. A couple of essentials and you’re good to go. Start horse-riding and enjoy your lesson – may it be the first of many happy hours with horses.