cinch too tightly at first.
Tighten just before mounting.
Then, walk and turn the horse before mounting.
Fasten accessory straps (tie-downs, breast collars, martingales, etc.) after the saddle is cinched.
Unfasten them first when unsaddling.
The back cinch should not be so loose that your horse can get a hind leg caught between the cinch and its belly, or so tight that it irritates the horse.
Check the cinch three times: • After saddling. • Just before mounting. • After riding a short distance.
English Carefully check the horse and tack before saddling.
Make sure all stitching on the stirrup leather, billet straps, and girth buckles is secure.
Check the pad to be sure that it is clean. 7 The stirrup safety bar should be down.
The stirrups should be run up before placing the saddle on the horse’s back.
The girth should be across the seat.
Stand with your feet well back from the horse and reach forward when saddling.
Place the pad high on the withers, then slide it backward onto the back.
This smooths the horse’s hair.
Check the girth three times: • After saddling. • Just before mounting. • After riding a short distance. Mounting and Dismounting Never mount or dismount a horse in a barn or near fences, trees, or overhanging projections.
Sidestepping and rearing mounts have injured riders who failed to take these precautions.
A horse should stand quietly for mounting and dismounting.
To be sure the horse stands, you must have light control of its head through the reins.
English riders should “run up” the stirrups on English saddles immediately upon dismounting.
The dangling stirrup may startle or annoy the horse.
It is possible for the horse to catch a cheek of the bit or even a hind foot in a dangling stirrup iron when he is going for a fly.
A dangling stirrup can also be caught on doorways and other projections while the horse is being led.
After running up the stirrups, English riders should immediately bring the reins over the horse’s head.
In this position, the reins can be used for leading.
Western riders should also bring the reins forward for leading immediately after dismounting. Bridling Always untie your horse before removing the halter.
Stand in close just behind and to one side (preferably on the left side) of the horse’s head.
Handle the horse’s ears carefully.
Keep control of the horse when bridling by re-fastening the halter around the neck.
Be careful not to bang the horse’s teeth when bridling or unbridling.
Ask your horse to open his mouth by putting one or two fingers in the corner of his mouth.
Be sure the bridle is properly adjusted to fit the horse before you ride: • Check the bit—there should be one or two wrinkles at the corners of the mouth. • The throatlatch should be adjusted so that you can insert three fingers between it and the horse’s jaw. • The cavesson (if used) should be relatively tight.
You should be able to insert only one finger between the cavesson and the nose. • The curb chain (if used) should be flat and not twisted.
You should be able to insert two fingers between the chain and the horse’s chin groove.
Never let your horse eat when wearing a bridle.
He may step on the reins or get his feet tangled in them.
Also hay or grass may get caught in the bit and injure his mouth. Headgear Medical studies show that the most common riding-related injuries are to the head.
Many of these could be prevented or made less severe by the wearing of protective headgear.
Protective headgear is a hat that stays on during a fall (not one that hits the ground before the rider).
Protective hats cannot be pierced by a sharp object and have extra padding inside to protect riders from concussion.
There are protective riding hats available for both Western and English riders.
Wear protective headgear that carries the appropriate approval.
These hats have been shown to be effective in preventing head injuries. Riding When riding, wear boots with proper heels to prevent your feet from slipping through the stirrups.
Always wear protective headgear, properly fitted and fastened. 8 Keep your horse under control and maintain a secure seat at all times.
Horses are easily frightened by unusual objects and noises.
Until you know your horse, confine your riding to an arena or other enclosed area.
Ride in open spaces or unconfined areas only after you are familiar with your horse.
When your horse becomes frightened, remain calm, speak to it quietly, steady it, and give it time to overcome its fear.
Hold your mount to a walk when going up or down a steep hill.
Allow a horse to pick his way at a walk when riding on tough ground or in sand, mud, ice, or snow where there is danger of your horse slipping or falling.
Don’t fool around.
Horseplay is dangerous to you and to your friends, as well as to others who may be nearby. Never ride your horse with just a halter.
Halters don’t give you enough control.
Use a bridle.
Try to avoid paved or other hard-surfaced roads.
Walk the horse when crossing paved roads.
If you must ride along the road, ride on the shoulder and follow the rules of the road.
Get a Driver’s Manual from your Department of Motor Vehicles.
These rules vary from state to state.
Never rush past riders who are proceeding at a slower gait, as it startles both horses and riders and frequently causes accidents.
Instead, approach slowly, indicate a desire to pass, and proceed cautiously on the left side.
Ride abreast or stay a full horse’s length from the horse in front to avoid the possibility of being kicked.
You can tell if the distance is safe by looking through your horse’s ears.
You should be able to see the hind heels of the horse in front of you. 9
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