Beginner adult male rider..
Hello all, this is my first post on your site after a great deal of searching and reading, hopefully I've placed this thread in the correct forum.
I'm a 23 year old male hoping to begin taking riding lessons in the near future, riding being an extremely female dominated sport, especially in my area where most riders are teenage girls from upper middle class families, I'm apprehensive and nervous. In this thread, I'm looking for a bit of encouragement and opinions from seasoned riders on a male my age entering the sport.
I've ridden horses a number of times in my life, always with my cousin, who is an extremely experienced rider and has been competing for a decade, currently living with her fiance on a cattle ranch; unfortunately, she's not close enough for me to learn from. I've always wanted to learn to ride, but haven't been able to do to circumstances. I've finally reached the stage in my life where taking on the financial burden of learning to ride is in my power, again somewhat unfortunately, when most other guys my age are buying fast cars and motorcycles.
So, onto my specific questions:
- What should I expect when I begin lessons?
- I'd like to take private lessons, actually, it's almost a necessity. I find the idea of being in a class with 12 year old girls unappealing, naturally. Should I try to an instructor who specializes in adults, what should I look for in one?
- Silly question, but give me some feedback on my being a beginner male rider my age? I'm a guy, it's inevitable that I'll be wondering what the female riders at a barn are thinking when they see a beginner male rider my age, a bit of insight would be unbelievably helpful towards alleviating those superficial concerns.
Thanks in advance for any and all responses!
Hey and welcome to the forum!
I wouldn't worry about age. My dad started at the age of 43, and now has his own horse and enjoys riding for pleasure.
I can completely understand your lesson views, and as a begginer, I would be expecting a trainer to show me the horse from the ground up. How to lead, groom, tack up. Its alright turning up to ride, but I knew a girl who rode and rode, but never tacked up once. She bought her own horse and expected the livery yard to crack on with it for her ;)
After that, equipment check for yourself to make sure you're wearing the correct gears- shoes with a heel, comfortable trousers and possibly gloves.
When it comes to the actual riding, I like to make sure students get the basic school figures (Whole school, 20m circle, change of rein) and halt. Only when they have mastered halt will I allow trot. That way, a student has a better understanding of how to slow, or stop a horse.
As to your last question.. my dad always said if he knew horses where such a ;chick magnet' he would have started years ago ;D I reckon they'd be pretty supportive. We think its great when we get any male riders in, beginner, happy hacker or advanced. Makes a change from the norm.
All I can say is find a good trainer, sit in some of their lessons and watch them teaching, try not to be nervous and enjoy! You have some experience which will help you, its just learning. Its a great sport, and something you will hopefully enjoy and stick with!
You might want to check out a blog by this guy I found. You'll find it by searching "Horse Crazy Bob Goddard" on Google, clicking on the appropriate website (probably the first) and then clicking "Bob the Equestrian". He is also an older beginner male rider and quite funny! He has an advantage over you though, since he was introduced to the horse world through his daughter/s.
What should you expect when you begin lessons? Every instructor is a little different. You might be expected to learn to groom and tack up, or this may be done for you. You may have a mostly ground lesson the first time, or be put on the lunge line, you may just hop right on. Most likely the most advanced thing you will be doing in your first lesson is some cone or barrel weaving on a school master.
If you really enjoy riding, I'd advise you to get a helmet, paddock boots (as they are much cheaper than tall boots) with the proper heel (usually described as 1 inch, anything made by an actual horse company is usually good to go though), and gloves. Gloves help prevent the reins burning your hands, keep your hands warm in the winter, and help keep your hands feeling nice when doing barn chores if you end up participating in them.
Pfft, you're just scared all those 12-year-olds would show you up :lol:. (Just kidding)! Most instructors do not specialize in adults, I'd be surprised if you found anything like that since the riding market seems to be more centered toward children and teens. But almost all instructors do provide private lessons (beware though, that these are often more expensive and shorter in length than a group lesson. If you plan to show it's a good idea to get one or two group lessons for the benefit of being able to maneuver in an arena with many different horses moving in it). Most people think they progress faster taking private lessons, which is a plus.
When looking for an instructor, it's important you're open-minded but not willing to settle. If you stick with the wrong instructor you're just going to end up wasting time and money when you could be someplace better, and end up with a bunch of bad habits which take time to break (trust me on this one). What you want in an instructor depends on your personality- perhaps you're quiet and don't want anyone too loud, perhaps you're really clumsy and kind of dense and want some one with a lot of patience, etc.
Personally, I love it when I see male riders, even older ones. I know a lot of other female riders think the same way. It's pretty rare now in a lot of places to see a male rider and it's refreshing when you do see one. If you're single you won't have any trouble looking for potential dating prospects :lol: (because there are also older women who ride, even beginner ones)! You're probably going to be teased, but if you have a good sense of humour about it you should find that the barn will provide a few good friends.
Good luck and have fun! Remember not to care what anybody thinks and to kick butt and take names! :D
Welcome to the forum!
Duffy has made a lot of good points, above.
As someone who taught for many years, I can say first of all, that an adult male beginner is unusual, but not unheard of - I taught a dozen or so. Most instructors will be thrilled to have you and delighted to work with you. Adult students make for a refreshing change for most instructors.
You should look for a riding school or facility that has other adult riders, you want to make sure that they have both horses and tack sized for adults. Many facilities will have adult only lessons. Even so, it's a good idea to schedule a series of private lessons first to get one on one instruction in the basics before joining a group lesson.
I think you'll find female adult riders welcoming and supportive. Their reaction to you will likely be that it's wonderful that you're doing this, and that they wish that their husbands/boyfriends would do the same. You may even feel a bit smothered by the attention. (I had a teen boy student for a while, and I was concerned that he would never learn to groom and tack up by himself, as he always had a small army of girls "helping.")
As to what to expect, your first lessons focus on position and elementary control: How to position yourself in the saddle effectively, how to hold the reins, how to stop, go, turn and basic horse handling.
Good luck, and please post back about how it's going.
PS - And now, for the most important tip for male riders - wear an athletic supporter.
I was in your shoes at one point, an adult male rider that's a bit older than you but I had the same questions and concerns...
Every instructor is going to be different but most will start off with how to safely approach a horse, the anatomy, how to halter, grooming, tack up and then untack. Leading the horse, mounting, dismounting and then eventually move to mounted lessons where you start off with the very basics at the walk. I would suggest picking up a few books if you can, I personally found the Pony Club Manuals to be extremely helpful. The books are aimed at children looking to ride English but it's written well enough that even an adult can appreciate the content.
Definitely start off with private lessons. You'll learn so much faster and then eventually you can always add some group lessons into the mix, to learn how to ride with other horses around. Most instructors can work with both adults and children, I don't think it's necessary to look for one that specializes in adults. Also don't be concerned if the instructor is younger than you, a lot of them have been riding their entire life and have a lot of knowledge to share.
My experience at an English barn...
If there are other guys around than it's usually not a big deal. However, if you are the only guy riding then you'll attract a lot of attention whether you want it or not. I'm a very shy person and I still get "hounded" at the barn which makes me feel a bit uneasy but I'm sure some guys would love the attention. Being a guy at a barn does have it's benefits though, you get a pass from the typical barn drama and people seem more eager to help you if you have any questions.
This needs to be said because it's so blatant at times... but be aware that some ignorant people will question your sexuality if you ride English instead of Western. If you detect a bit of that, talk about an ex-girlfriend or something in a relevant discussion to set them straight in a subtle way. Unless of course you're not straight, in which case I think the ladies will love you even more.
The main thing is to have fun and don't worry about what other people are thinking. I spent too much time worrying about how I would be perceived as both an adult beginner and a male rider in a female dominated sport, and most of my concerns were unfounded. You will run into the occasional snot who asks if you're doing this to impress someone, but like everything in life there will always be that one a-hole you have to deal with. :)
I'm sure every guy is different when it comes to this subject, but what I found to work best besides learning how to ride properly was to wear tight boxer briefs or just plain briefs. The underwear needs to be tight! I cannot ride in boxers or loose fitting briefs. Reason being, that the tighter the underwear is the easier it is to "position" yourself and have things stay in one area. Less mishaps while you learn how to ride and especially the posting trot. :oops:
I am sure she didnt mean a cup, but a jock strap. Holds the goods in snugly without the hard plastic 'cup'. :)
Do you want to ride English, Western, or just get started in either?
No need to wear a cup, and none that I know of to wear a jock strap, BTW.
Welcome to the horse world. I can't give any advice on lessons because I never took any. The only instruction I got was at a summer camp many years ago. Everything I've learned was from books and tv or videos and from experienced people, such as riders or stable owners.
I too wish I had gotten into horses at a much younger age. Not only for the girls/ladies, but because I enjoy it so much.
I don't do shows but ride for fun. I like to trail ride but I've done judged trail rides. You do compete against others but it's mainly to see where you are with your horse and their training. The first one I did, I was the only guy. I felt a little out of place at first but thought to myself that those other guys don't know what they're missing.
So don't worry about what others might think. Go ahead and enjoy yourself.
About the tight undies or jockstrap: some guys don't like to have it all bunched up. Riding western, you sit back on your pockets, so they don't get scrunched anyway. I don't know about riding English.
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as for trainer find someone who knows what there talking about and who you are comfortable with. you will want someone you can be open with :)
as for what the girls will be thinking ...hmmm i would bet they will be shocked at first but its almost every females dream to have a guy to ride with... so dont worry its an extra hobby horse women will like about you.
remember to have fun and enjoy it.
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