(writing help) How to ride a horse without any experience? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-25-2018, 02:52 AM
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Some people don't realize the danger of horseback riding when they have no experience.

I invited a friend out to ride my horse when I was in high school and she had never ridden before.

She was in an arena (thank goodness) but got the horse up to a trot (could have even been a canter, I don't remember) and she was bouncing and flailing all over the place. I put an end to that real quick, but she was oblivious to the fact she was out of control and could fall off at any minute. She was having fun and not realizing at all that she was two seconds away from disaster. I really couldn't relate, I was a born worrier!
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-25-2018, 04:09 AM
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I love writing books too and am pleased to see your book will have horses in it. Horses make everything better! : ) I thought I would just throw out some things you could think about:
Firstly, I don't know anything about the characters your writing about, but they impact things greatly. Horses are very sensitive creatures and know if their rider is nervous. If a horse senses their rider is nervous, the horse can get nervous too. So If any of the characters are scared about riding the horse, the horse will know. Also, you mentioned their riding the horses through the forest? In that case the uneven ground ads an element of difficulty. Going down hill on horse back can feel quite wobbly and scary to a new rider, but their should't actually have any risk of falling as long as the horse is justing walking.

Which leads me to my next thought, the speed of the horse. Horses have four basic speeds: walk, trot, canter, and gallop. Obviously, walking is easiest. Anyone should be able to stay on a walking horse. Trotting is very bouncy though, and your riders might have to grab their horses mane to keep them self steady, and will definitely have a sore bum the next day! Cantering is faster, but smoother. Easier to sit, but could be scarier to a new rider. Galloping is very fast and the rider has to stand up out of the saddle and lean foreword in order to gallop a horse and maintain balance. Another point: I see a lot of books and movies were horses only speed seems to be a gallop. This is very unrealistic, and annoying to people who know about horses. So I would suggest making sure your horses have more than one speed. ; )

Last thoughts:
It sounds like the horses in your story are very well trained, so I don't think your characters will have much difficulty, as long as their are brave, kind, and strong. Here are some important thinks about riding horses that your characters should know before they try:
Reins are for steering, not for balance. The reins connect to a metal piece in the horses mouth, so pulling on the reins hard is uncomfortable to the horse and unnecessary.
Kicking the horse is also unnecessary. It is okay to grab the horses mane if you lose your balence, horses don't have nerve endings in their mane hair.
On a well trained horse, your characters probably won't have to much trouble. Getting on might be hard, they will probably need to find something to stand on. Another pitfall they could encounter is a horse spooking. Even a week trained horse spooks fro time to time, jumping to the side, spinning, or bolting. A new riding could defininlty fall off from a spook. Horses can spook at all kinds of things: loud noises, sudden movement, small animals, or anything else that could startle or frighten them.

I would suggest reading some books and watching some videos or movies about horses too, so you can see what things look like, learn the words for horse things, and see how other authors write about horses without having to explain all the equestrian terms there are. I hope something in this post was helpful, thank you for visiting our forum, (Anyones welcome!) And Good Luck with your book!!!

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post #13 of 16 Old 03-25-2018, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Well, I've had total newbies come out and try riding.
Did you send them out by themselves (as in the premise of the story) after your two-minute lesson, or were they able to be passengers on a calm horse who, in turn, followed a confident lead horse on the trail?
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post #14 of 16 Old 03-25-2018, 09:08 AM
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Looks like you're getting the whole spectrum here, but I'll weigh in as well.

Much will depend on the athleticism and courage of your characters, as well as the training and disposition of the horses. Also, whether your characters are needing to get somewhere fast, as in an escape or rescue, or just want to travel farther in a day than they can afoot.

There are plenty of horses whose job is simply to pack people from here to there. as in the video posted by @Horsef . The rider just has to stay balanced and not get bounced off at the faster gaits. Plenty of inexperienced riders manage to stay on a horse that is not actively trying to kill the rider. as in @bsms example.

I've known 2 men who managed to work with horses, without first having any horse experience. The first was a natural athlete who passed the test ride for membership in the US Army cavalry unit I was in. He turned out to be one of the best riders in the bunch. The other guy lied his way into a wrangler job at a dude ranch, having never seen a horse outside the movies. He took a few tumbles, but the other guys never caught on to his secret.

I've also seen tough athletic guys freeze in terror as soon as the horse started to move.

I suppose it can go any direction you want it to, depending on how important the scene is to the development of your characters or to the storyline.
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post #15 of 16 Old 03-25-2018, 10:14 AM
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Another hazard to consider if your scene includes riding through a forest is that the natural environment (not trails) does not include good footing, usually. Branches and roots hidden by leaves to trip the horses, low hanging limbs or vines to catch at the rider, and the natural noises of wind and critters unseen will all play into the ability of the characters being able to complete the ride.

Unfortunately, just saying you have a couple characters wanting to take tacked up and trained horses through a forest doesn't really give us enough information. If the setting is medieval, then the characters will at least know a little about horses even if they've never ridden, and the terrain through the forest might be a well used trail where wagon ruts are the norm. If the setting is closer to today, the tack is different/more varied. Are the horses ranch horses on a string? Are they rental horses used to packing novices and generally either sour or well behaved? Is the path though the forest completely wild, or will they be on established trails?
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post #16 of 16 Old 03-25-2018, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
Did you send them out by themselves (as in the premise of the story) after your two-minute lesson, or were they able to be passengers on a calm horse who, in turn, followed a confident lead horse on the trail?
I don't think we know the premise of the story. We don't know if there are saddles involved, if the horses have any training, the time frame (medieval, old west, the year 2471), if it is on this planet or if the protagonists are survivalists encountering strange horses, etc.

Passengers on a calm horse. Well, I learned to ride by buying and trying to ride a very spooky Arabian mare (Mia) - but she was sweet, had good intentions, and the Australian saddle helped keep me alive when she would jump sideways, spin violently, or when she bolted. She also was utterly unsuited to being ridden by a new rider, even if I did it.

My first ride into the mountains was 30 years before I bought that mare, on a green broke horse owned by my college room mate. He didn't ask if I knew how to ride. I didn't tell him I had been on a horse about a dozen times in my life. So he & I went on a two day trip into the mountains of Utah - one very experienced rider and one newbie, both on green-broke horses.

The sheepherders I mentioned are not tossed on untrained horses. The horses know their job - which includes keeping the rider with them. But they are expected to go out and ride alone, miles from the next closest person, in the mountains and deserts of Utah. No cell phone coverage. The owner will check on them weekly. And in 30 years of doing it, the owner has only had one person injured enough to be seen by a doctor - and he had his shoulder bandaged and was released to go back to work.

So...in the story, is it a wild horse? An escaped race horse fresh off the track? A ranch horse?

How did they encounter the horse? Was it loaned to them? Are they setting off on a trip? In my years of hiking, I've never just met a riderless horse wandering the forest or desert on its own.

Still, I dislike the idea that horses are fire-breathing dragons who require years of training to learn to ride or handle. I find them to be pretty sensible creatures - "horse sense" used to mean someone without a lot of learning but who could make good decisions regardless. I find them amazingly willing and patient. A good thinking horse can compensate for a horrible rider.

This video includes my son's 9th time ever on a horse - 7th time after a 3-4 year gap. I was wearing the chest camera. My horse's history includes racing. I sometimes need to convince him I don't race. My son was on 13.0 hand Cowboy - a BLM mustang who has been a ranch horse, a lesson horse, who hates arenas but is utterly sensible on a trail.

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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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