How to Become a Better Rider
 By Winniefield Park   •   8th Oct 2013   •   1,679 views   •   0 comments
How to Become a Better Rider

Becoming a better rider isn't easy. Few things really worth doing are. But it is worth it to both you and your horse.

Riding Lessons
The fastest way to improve your riding skills is to take riding lessons. Group lessons are great, but the one-on-one feedback that a coach can provide during a private lesson can be even more valuable. Don't be afraid to take lessons from different coaches, as all will have a slightly different opinion, and you can decide what works for you. Also, don't be afraid to take lessons from high-level coaches in the discipline you choose. These people are usually very approachable, not tremendously more expensive, and are glad to help even beginners start out right. If you can't afford weekly lessons, even once a month lessons can help your riding improve.

Photos catch good moments, and they catch not so good moments. From the good moments, we can learn what to do more of. Take a look at how you are holding your head, arms, hands, legs, feet and notice your posture. Like what you see? Do more of that. Also, take a look at your horse. Does it look like it is paying attention to you? Is it fussing or looking uncomfortable? Why might that be? Inevitably, the camera can catch you in a bad moment. There's a lot to be learned from those not-so-proud moments. Hide those photos and examine them when no one else is around, so you don't repeat the moment in the future.

Set up a video cam in the corner of the ring or arena when you ride. Having a friend do the videoing is even better. This is really useful when you're trying to make small adjustments to say, your hand position, or how you carry your head, because even small adjustments can feel huge. Watching a video as you experiment with these sort of things is useful, because you can see the changes those adjustments makeótiny adjustments, that feel so uncomfortable when you first start to make them. You can also see how your horse reacts to your riding.

Whether you participate on horseback, audit (that's watch) or even volunteer to help, clinics are a great way to learn new things, and correct problems. There are a lot of different ways clinics are run, so you may be able to take part in private or group lessons, ground work or watching others ride and help analyze what you see. No matter how the clinic is arranged, you'll likely come away with something new to think about and try.

Showing can bring out the best and the worst in a person's riding. But, because we are striving to do as well as we can, showing can be an incentive, if not an actual occasion, to improve our riding. Horse show jitters can sometimes be a rider's undoing. It's easy to get frazzled and fall apart, but try to look at each show as a learning opportunity, not a competition.

What' have you found the most effective way to improve your riding?

Image Credit: © Anke Van Wyk |
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