Older Rider Learning to Ride Astride First Time

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Older Rider Learning to Ride Astride First Time

This is a discussion on Older Rider Learning to Ride Astride First Time within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Riding astride
  • Older woman+horseback

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    08-03-2010, 04:37 PM
Older Rider Learning to Ride Astride First Time

So I'm a writer - and I like horses but I haven't ridden very much and a significant part of my new novel deals with horses and showing and such and I've been doing quite a bit of careful research to try to keep it all accurate and joined this wonderful forum to shoot some of my questions out there for much more experienced people to offer opinions on :)

The scenario I'm facing now is that one of my characters (she's an older lady, rather prim and proper but kind) has been given a horse as a gift. Now as a young girl she likely learned how to ride sidesaddle but never learned to ride astride or the duties involved in taking care of a horse. So I'm looking for advice/thoughts on what and how the person who gave her the horse (who is an experienced horseman who will be helping her learn) would teach her to ride English style. She's not intending to show or anything just how to get her to be able to do the basics.. mount, dismount on her own and be able to ride astride decently well. What kind of things would he work with her on and how might he do it? Keeping in mind her rather prim and proper nature are there also things that she might have a funny reaction to that I need to be addressing? Annyyy type of information is beneficial :) - Thanks in advance!

Background info on the horse in question if you want it: She's a three to four year old TWH filly (reddish chestnut) and 14.6 hh. She's a nice girl with a good temperament though she still has some training to do. She's quite trusting and will willingly give you her feet etc. I think there shouldn't be a big problem with the size of the person riding her to start her under saddle because the person she's meant as a gift for is not very large maybe 5' 4" and 120-30 pounds or so.
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    08-03-2010, 04:50 PM
14.6 h isn't an actual number. The horse would be 15.2 h, which isn't all that tall.

A hand is 4 inches, and the point (.) numbers are 1 to 3, because they're designating inches less than a hand.

I'm 5'1" and have a 15.2 h horse. He's not too tall for me.

How old is your heroine, and in what era are you basing your story? Nobody learns sidesaddle as a regular way to ride anymore, and in fact since the latter part of the 1800s, women have been riding astride.

So your heroine would have to be over 130 years old to have learned sidesaddle as a 'proper' way to ride.
    08-03-2010, 04:51 PM
Originally Posted by WriterChick18    
Background info on the horse in question if you want it: She's a three to four year old TWH filly (reddish chestnut) and 14.6 hh.
I detest typos! 14.3 hh. Sorry.
    08-04-2010, 04:04 PM
It spans a great deal of time and contains flashbacks as well. There are parts in modern time (i.e. 21st century, there are parts in the mid 1800's, and plenty in between.) So it's a bit all over the place and it means I have to cover things for the older parts that just wouldn't be an issue in modern day. This small portion is set in the 1910's but the lady in question was born in the mid 1800's and was of a aristocratic European background so would certainly not have been encouraged to go out riding "like a man". It would have almost certainly been considered inappropriate still when she was initially learning.
    08-05-2010, 01:05 PM
It sounds like she would need to start from the very basics. Her instructor would likely start her off on a longe line and help her achieve the proper position and "feel" of the horse's gaits.

With walk, she might practice feeling each of the four beats in the walk. My instructors have made me count off each of the four beats as the horse's feet land, as well as when the right versus the left hind foot is coming forward and landing. This can be felt by a slight sway from side to side in the horse's barrel. When the barrel moves into your left thigh, the horse's right hind is moving forward to land. The opposite is true.

Now, with a gaited horse I can't tell you as much because I've never been on one and I'm not sure how best to ride and "feel" the horse's unique gaits.
    08-05-2010, 01:13 PM
That's interesting! Thanks Eolith - I'll see what I can find about that :)
    08-05-2010, 01:21 PM
One thing is, with this lady being very prim and proper, she may wind up undoing herself because she is too uptight and rigid, too focused on trying to be perfectly perfect from the very start. A lot of riding well is related to being able to sort of 'go with the flow' of the horse. If you become nervous and worried, the horse will too. Particularly young ones whose training is still being finished up.
    08-05-2010, 01:32 PM
I hadn't thought of it, but that's certainly something she might have to deal with as she's a bit of a perfectionist. She'll probably feel bad if she doesn't get it right off. Luckily, from what she's been saying in my head she really seems to want to learn so also is not going to be inclined to want to quit when it doesn't go quite how she planned/expected.
    08-05-2010, 01:52 PM
Super Moderator
Couple thoughts...

It seems that when people first start to ride, especially adults, they have an issue with mounting. Having learned to ride side-saddle and having been a "proper lady" she is probably used to having someone either place her on the horse, or using a step to mount. You could have a little fun with the learning to mount thing... Alot of people will try to place their right foot in the stirrup to mount (mounting, especially at that time, would have always been done from the left side). Also, people seem to have a hard time figuring out how to pull themselves onto the horse, they want to grab the saddle, which could cause an english saddle to slip, so she'd need to grab the mane. You could even have the gentleman teaching her place his hand on her rump to help hoist her up. That would probably really shock her.

Just a little gaited horse info:

The Tennessee Walking Horse performs three distinct gaits:

The flat foot walk (brisk, long-reaching walk that can cover from four to eight miles an hour. This is a four cornered gait with each of the horse's feet hitting the ground separately at regular intervals.)

The running walk (This extra-smooth, gliding gait is basically the same as the flat walk with a noticeable difference in the rate of speed between the two gaits. Proper form should never be sacrificed for excessive speed in a good running walk. The breed can travel 10 to 20 miles per hour at this gait.)

The canter (forward movement performed in a diagonal manner to the right or to the left)
    08-05-2010, 02:18 PM
Well that officially caused me the hiccups from laughing and thanks for the info, farmpony!

I'll try to spare her my first experience attempting to mount without help. I haven't ridden much at all, but my mother did used to have a friend who taught with her at school that had some horses so when I was younger I got to ride them on a few occasions. I was about ten or eleven when I decided that I was going to figure out how to mount without getting a 'leg up'. Well, I went up alright - and right over the other side and fell in the mud on the opposite side of the horse (and of course landed on my hands/knees/face). And she came over to see if I was alright and she goes "Now you only need nine more." and I was a bit "....?" and she goes "You have to fall off at least least ten times." Oi. I don't know how my other foot came out of the stirrup allowing me to fall - though I'm sure it was because I'm a huge klutz.

The expression I can picture her with if he were to, as you say, put a hand on her rump and hoist her into the saddle - would be hilarious. Something like - "/" and it's totally something he'd do without even thinking about it I'm sure.

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