For many Malaysians who live in city (like I am), it is not common to have horses as pet. Therefore most of us do not have experience in riding horses. It become really important to take up proper riding lessons before going for more advanced activities with horses.
Riding lessons in Malaysia are offered in packages. You will often see riding schools offer different riding packages with different pricing and different number of session. However, generally you will find the packages as following:
Beginner Level package is usually short sessions from 20-30 minutes for each session. Reason why it is designed to be short session is to allow the student to get used to using specified part of their muscle to ride a horse. In Beginner Level, instructor will pay 1 to 1 attention to the student to ensure the student’s safety. The fee for this package range from RM350 to RM450. The number of session range from 5 sessions to 8 sessions – depending on package offered by different riding school. In this level, student will learn
- the correct posture to sit on horse
- different types of horse movements (walk, trot, canter)
- different aids to communicate with horse (leg, hand, sound)
- different terms for the gears on the horse (stirrup, rein, etc)
At the end of your Beginner Level, you should be able to comfortably ask your horse to move forward, bend left / right, and stop. If you are a quick learner, you will be able to trot comfortably as well.
Intermediate Level package is usually longer sessions around 45 minutes each session. In Intermediate Level, the instructor will pay 1 to 1 attention OR the instructor will coach a group of Intermediate Level student together. The fee for this package range from RM450 to RM500. The number of session range from 5 sessions to 8 sessions – depending on package offered by different riding school. In this level, student will practice
- consistently displaying correct posture to ride on horses
- riding on different horse movements (walk, trot, canter) and the transitions
- riding horses using different aids to communicate with horse (leg, hand, sound, whip)
At the end of your Intermediate Level, you should be able to comfortably ride your posing trot and sitting trot. If you are a quick learner, you will be able to canter steadily on different horses. Some student might need to take up more than one Intermediate Level package to be more solid on the riding skills. A good benchmark is when the student can confidently and effortlessly trot and canter on different type of horses.
How to spot a good instructor? I have taken up lessons with couple of instructors, some are harsher, some are friendlier and some just don’t really care. For me, a good instructor is someone who gives me constant feedback by telling me what is my problem and how to fix it. A good instructor should also have strict standard on his students. In other words, do expect a good instructor to shout to you across the paddock “YOUR LEG IS TOO INSIDE!”, “LEAN BACK!”, “OPEN YOUR SHOULDER!”. It might get embarrassing at times but this is the cost to being a good rider.
The number of sessions in the packages offered by riding schools could be a little too short for someone totally new. Do not be discouraged that you have finished up all the session yet you are not good with riding. It takes at least 6 months (which is 20-30 sessions) for someone totally new to be fairly comfortable with riding different horses.
Should you ride the same horse all the time or should you ride different horses? Unless you own a horse yourself, generally it is a good idea to ride different horses to learn the different rhythm in horse movement. It help you to develop your adaptability to quickly adjust your tempo for different horses, so that you can ride on any horses in the future.
One thing to take note is while riding ex-racer (horses which are retired from racing). They are often being bought and retrained to be used in riding school. Please be careful while riding an ex-racer. Although they have been retrained, they could still get pretty excited while cantering. If you are new to cantering or you are learning to canter, it is best to avoid ex-racer.