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While I don’t profess to be able to tell you in a short article how to be a first class rider, I can make you less anxious about sliding onto a horse’s back. Also I can tell you what you must know about being around horses. From the basics to the more complicated, it is covered here. So open up your ears and throw away the wives tails!

The basics:

A horse’s ears contain expressions much like our mouths. If the two ears are up and together the horse is happy, if they are both back the horse is mad, and if they're floppy and in different directions the horse is thinking.

If you are in close quarters with a horse it is better to be up against his rear-end than a few feet away. A horse’s kicking range is approximately four feet, so unless you can get that far away from him stay up close so that he knows you are there.

Their stomachs are very sensitive, for they can’t throw up! Make sure to never feed a horse anything that strays from an equine diet. (Horse feed, apples, carrots, alfalfa, and sugar.) Do not feed a horse any plants other than grass unless you are sure it is not harmful.

Now you have the basics of being around horses, now you need to know how to ride them! Well first of all you always get up on the left side, that is how horses are taught and you wouldn’t want to confuse them. Once on the horse, pet him gently on the neck to explain that you are a friendly person. Next pick up your reins and put your feet in the stirrups. Slowly close your legs in a constant motion and squeeze gently, this signals the horse to walk forward. Try never to kick a horse but only squeeze your legs.

When you are ready to increase to the trot or canter cluck with your mouth, lean forward, and squeeze your legs together. In order to stop, slowly pull on the reins. If the horse tucks his head down when you ask him to stop release the reins then pull them again, repeat this till the horse stops. If you are ever on a runaway horse take one rein and pull it as hard as you can, attempt to get the horse's nose by your foot. A horse cannot run with his head to the side.

Remember, a horse can sense your emotions, so stay calm, breathe, and be confident! Practice makes perfect.