Ride in sympathy with your horse

Riding for pleasure

Pleasures of Riding
Hacking, Dressage or Show Jumping: The Pleasures of Riding Whether you wish to ride a horse simply for pleasure – hacking across country, or ride in some kind of competition – dressage or show jumping, you will find that the pleasures and joys of riding are many.

It may seem daunting at first to climb up into the saddle of a creature whose head, at least, is taller than you, who weighs several hundred pounds, and who is all strength and power – and surprising gentleness.

Once you are in the saddle…the ground is so far below you. You pick up the reins , two thin leather straps attached to a bit between the horse’s teeth, and with these two thin straps you are in complete control of the mount between your legs.

(At least, you are if you’ve had the appropriate lessons!)

Hacking – is the most popular form of horseback riding. That is because it is the easiest form of riding – you are competing with no one. There’s no question of having to jump a three foot high barrier with perfect form, or of having to make your mount respond instantly to your slightest whim.

And hacking is pretty easy riding, once you know the commands to give your mount. Then you’re free to travel cross-country, free from the hustle and bustle of cars on roads, and be one with nature, accompanied only by the sound of your horse’s hooves clip-clopping on the ground.

Hacking is also a way of exploring the beautiful surroundings of the English countryside – more quickly than you would be able to do on foot, more sedately than on a bicycle. And if you are riding with friends, you can all enjoy and converse as you ride.

But just because hacking is not competition riding, that does not mean that a rider should not be in shape, physically. Although riding is a form of physical exercise, it’s not enough on it’s own – you will find that if you do a bit of weight training you’ll be able to hop into the saddle with ease and your knees will grip the sides of your mount with that much more strength, and give you more elf-confidence when you ride.

While hacking is the most popular form of horseback riding, the pleasure to be gained by participating in dressage or show jumping adds a unique pleasure – the joy of competition, of pitting your skills, and those of your mount, against the skills of others. There’s an extra frisson of pleasure in sitting atop a horse that responds to your every command when going through a jumping or dressage routine.

Both dressage and show jumping require tremendous discipline – it requires, as the saying goes, practice, practice, practice. But if you are the type of individual who thrives on that discipline and its subsequent rewards, then these two forms of competition are for you.

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