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How to learn to ride a horse

Horse riding is fun and exciting for both adults and children. The physical benefits include using up an awful lot of energy and exercising your muscles - including some you never knew you had! An hour’s horse riding is the same as a good jog or game of tennis, and can use 220 calories per hour.

The only essential equipment is a riding helmet of the current standard and this can initially be borrowed from a riding school. Wear snug fitting trousers, sturdy shoes with a heel and no loose fitting clothing or jewellery.

A list of British Horse Society approved riding schools can be found on the The British Horse Society website under Riding Schools.

Once you have mastered the basic techniques, the choice is limitless. A gentle hack around some of Britain’s bridleways can introduce you to a countryside that you normally would not see. On horseback you can see over the hedges, and wildlife is not scared away by what to them is a fellow creature and not a predator.

If you are looking for something a little more exciting, there is nothing to match galloping across fields of stubble in the autumn. If competing is your thing, the list is vast. There are show jumping competitions to match every level from 2ft fences at local events right up to Olympic level. Dressage challenges control and training of the horse in a series of steps and manoeuvres that progress from simple outlines to complicated procedures that give the impression that the horse is dancing. Eventing combines these two disciplines with riding cross-country at speed over the sort of hazards you might be expected to encounter in open country, such as water jumps or fallen trees.

If team sports are your thing, try polo, horseball (a sort of rugby on horseback and not for the fainthearted), or polocrosse.

If friendly competition combined with riding out in beautiful countryside sounds good, then try the newest sport to hit the UK from France: Le TREC, which is a form of orienteering on horseback, combined with basic horsemanship skills. BHS TREC is administered by the British Horse Society and it is catching on fast.

If you have never tried riding, why not give it a go. But be warned, it can be addictive!

Further information can be obtained by contacting the British Horse Society

Website: www.bhs.org.uk

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