Fun rides with your horse can be a great way to explore new places and make lasting friendships. Here, BHS coach, Rachel Levy, explains all you need to know about fun rides.
How to choose the perfect fun ride
A fun ride is like an organised hack on a huge scale. You can expect to take a route across a whole range of terrain, including woodland, up and down hills and going through water.
There’s often a choice of distances to suit different levels of fitness and there’s sometimes the chance to try a jump or two at varying heights.
Before you book a place on a fun ride, make sure you’ve checked the route and you’re confident that both you and your horse will be happy with any roads or challenges you might come across on the way.
Rides will often be advertised online or more locally at feed stores and riding clubs, so browse through some schedules and get yourself booked in!
Getting your horse fit for a fun ride
While fun rides aren’t competitive, preparation is still important for a successful day out.
Be honest about how much you and your horse are doing – most fun rides are a minimum of two to three hours.
If you’re only riding at weekends, you might need to put in a few extra sessions during the week.
Ride on various surfaces, including along roads and up and down hills, to develop your horse’s cardiovascular fitness and to strengthen and condition his muscles and tendons.
Gradually increase the length of your rides until you’re covering at least three quarters of the distance of your chosen ride, not forgetting to factor in some extra miles if you’re hacking to the event.
Remember your own fitness too. Sitting on your horse’s back all day will soon tire him so ensure you have a light seat. You’ll need balance and strength to canter in a light seat out of the saddle.
What to wear at a fun ride
While there’s no dress code for a fun ride, a good hat is a must and a body protector is a sensible idea.
Book a visit from your farrier beforehand as shoes are more frequently lost on a longer ride or in water, and make sure your horse’s tack is clean and fits well.
It can be handy to practise adjusting your stirrups on the go – you never know when you might want to shorten them to have a go at a jump.
6 fun ride safety tips
- If riding in a group, discuss what pace you’re happy to ride at before you get going. Not everyone likes to gallop.
- Keep your distance from others and be mindful that they might be riding young or inexperienced horses
- Always overtake horses slowly, warning other riders that you’re passing and thanking them as you do so.
- Be willing to miss out the odd jump if there’s a big queue. This will help to prevent a build-up of horses and riders in one area.
- Ride in company if you can, placing steadier horses on the outside of the group.
- Stay alert for other riders that might come whizzing past and upset your horse, or set him off after them!
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