Prospective New Rider With Questions
I've never ridden a horse before. Until November, I never even considered it something I'd like to do. I was out hunting bear with some friends on a state game lands near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The game lands is a very large area and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Consequently, we had a difficult time covering as much area as we would have liked on foot. Then we figured out that it is permissible to hunt from horseback. Well, that pretty much solves the problem and in addition it adds a whole new dimension to the experience. It sounds like it could be a lot of fun.
However, in solving one problem I've identified another one. I have no idea how to ride and I have no horse, no saddle, no trailer and no idea how to do this.
I think the first step is to actually ride a horse. We have a county park nearby with a number of stables, so I shouldn't have too much trouble getting some time in the saddle. But what am I looking for? From the little time I've spent on this forum, there are apparently numerous riding styles and disciplines. What do they call what I am trying to do? Furthermore, what level of competence is required of me as a rider in order to do this?
I'm not sure its a good idea to buy a horse so that can go on an excursion a couple of times a year, even if there are people giving them away for free or nearly so on Craigslist. Once I figure out how to ride, is it even reasonable to expect that somebody would rent or lend me an animal for this purpose? As I envision it, we would spend most of the day just walking trails. However, there is a lot of up and down and the terrain can be steep and sometimes rocky. My friends and I actually speculated that mules might be more suitable. We also considered that perhaps we could use our mount to drag out the bear we shoot. I suppose we would want to put a lot of orange on the horse so we don't get mistaken for game. And of paramount concern, I would need an animal I could safely shoot from. The last thing I need is to take a shot at the bear of a lifetime and promptly get tossed heels over head by a frightened horse. The cavalry used to do this kind of thing, so it is clearly possible, but is it practical and what does it take to get it done?