How to safely prepare a horse for riding

July 29, 2015

Horse riding can be a great way to bond with your pet. Here are some tips to help you safely prepare your horse for the ride.

How to safely prepare a horse for riding

The correct fit for the bit

A bit must fit neatly in the horse's mouth. If it is too high, it will rub the corners of the horse's mouth; if too low, it will dangle behind the animal's front teeth; and if too narrow, it will rub the horse's lips and poke it in the top of the palate.

  • A correctly­ fitted bit will just wrinkle the corners of the horse's mouth.
  • Make sure that the bit has no rough edges, and keep it clean by washing regularly with dishwashing detergent.

The right way to put a bridle on

  • Place the reins over the horse's neck.
  • Arrange the bridle, hold the top in your right hand, and reach under the animal's neck, holding the head piece in your right hand and the bit in your left.
  • Place the bit against the horse's teeth, pushing gently; the animal should open its mouth to accept it.
  • As it does so, lift the head piece over the horse's offside (right ear), then over its left ear, and adjust it.
  • Then do up the throat latch, remembering that it should have three ­fingers' space between the throat and strap. A well-trained horse should be easy to bridle.­

Taking a bridle off

  • Undo the throat latch of the bridle, and the nose band ­if there is one. Leave the reins around the horse's neck.
  • Take the head piece in your right hand and begin to bring it forwards.
  • At the same time press gently on the bars (toothless gums) of the horse's mouth to instruct it to let go of the bit — never pull the bit from the mouth.
  • Finally, take the reins over its head.
  • Always use slow and steady movements when removing the bridle­, taking care not to "clank" the horse in the teeth.

How to shorten the reins

After mounting, you should adjust the reins to their correct­ length, which is about where the neck begins its upward curve.

  • Take the right rein in your right hand, holding it correctly, then grasp the left rein with your right thumb and index finger, thereby freeing your left hand.
  • Take the left rein in your left hand and hold it at the required length.
  • Using the thumb and index finger of your left hand, take the free end of the right rein.
  • Draw the right rein through your right hand until it is the same length as the left rein.
  • With the reins of equal length, adjust your hands for even contact with the horse's mouth.

Before taking your horse out for a ride, make sure you know the right way to prepare your horse. With these tips, you can make sure your horse is safe and ready to ride.

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