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Horseback Riding This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   STOP! Don't turn the page! Even if you have no interest at all in horseback riding, or even animals, you may find this unique sport interesting. So...read on!

Riding is a lot of fun; I think it's one of the best sports you can get involved in. There are several reasons for that: you're around beautiful animals, in the fresh air, getting exercise, and, of course, because it's a fun way to spend your free time. Before you go sign up for lessons, you should know what you're getting into. First of all, riding can be a very expensive sport because of the equipment and clothing you'll need. Secondly, you have to realize that it's a major time commitment, however it will be worth the effort.

When you first start riding, you will do fine wearing jeans, a sweater, and a jacket. If you begin riding in the summer, it's a good idea to wear long pants despite the heat, because bare skin can get sore from rubbing against the saddle. Even beginners should start out with sturdy gloves (thin ones during the summer) to grip the reins better, and good footwear, meaning sturdy boots with a heel. Rubber boots are usually the best for starting, because they are much less expensive, and easier to take care of than leather boots. As you progress, you will want to invest in more appropriate attire, such as jodhpur or riding breeches, a riding coat (mostly for showing), and jodhpur or paddock boots.

Generally, beginning riders won't need the usual equipment, like a saddle, bridle, etc., unless you are lucky enough to own your own horse. One thing, though, that ALL riders, regardless of their age or ability, need is a hard hat (sometimes called a hunting cap). This is a sturdy, solid hat worn at all times while riding for protection from falling or hitting something. Sometimes a rider may need a crop (a type of whip), although they're usually used by more advanced riders.

The only good way to learn how to walk, trot, canter, and jump is with lessons. There are many riding academies, schools, and stables in Massachusetts that offer lessons. You could also go to a qualified instructor at a privately-owned barn. Another good idea, if you don't have the opportunity or money for lessons, is to get an after-school or summer job at a stable cleaning out stalls, grooming and exercising horses. "Exercising" basically means getting free rides! If you have a job or are around a barn, you will pick up things very quickly. However, keep in mind that the more experience you have, the easier it is to get a job at a barn.

Whether you are crazy about horses, or just want to learn as much about riding as possible, reading will give you more information. It's not only a fun, educational way to learn about riding and horses, but it's also a great activity when the weather is bad and you're wishing you could be out riding. Some good, informational books I would recommend are: Happy Horsemanship by Dorothy Henderson and Pinch and the Horseless Rider by Barbara Burn.

Horse-back riding camp is a great way to spend your summer. Besides the usual camp activities, you will be spending time with horses, and most important, learning to ride, or ride better! Some riding camps you may want to look into include: Road's End Farm Horsemanship Camp (603-363-4703), Camp Bobbin Hollow (413-253-3578), and Oceanwood Camp (207-934-9655) which all offer week-long riding programs.

Now you know what you need and where to go to become a good rider. When you're riding, remember that the people (and animals) are the most important things, so make sure you know what you're doing! Don't feel bad if you don't have a horse of your own, because most riders don't either! So, I hope you find this sport as interesting as I do. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Pumpkinscout said...
Sept. 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm
Nice but the phone numbers at the end make it seem like an advertisment. Keep in mind not everyone lives in th same area as you so for example, people from Texas can't exactly go to the barn down the road from you. But I agree that horseback riding is awesome! :)
 
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