Frequently Asked Questions
Have a simple question like "Is my child too young to ride?" or "Should I bring or wear for lessons?" Get an answer to it here!
Q: What are some of the benefits of riding?
A: 1. The most immediate benefit is physical exercise, as anyone who has ever been "saddle sore" will tell you! Riding is actually one of the most intensive workouts around even at a moderate pace, burning more calories than swimming, sprinting, cycling and many other sports. Because riding is done on the back of a horse, it may also be easier for those who have physical disabilities to exercise this way than in a more traditional way.
2. Horseback riding builds confidence while also developing many other new skills, such as working with animals, physical coordination, flexibility, and 3D spacial abilities. In addition, many riders choose to take their lessons on the trail, or may later (when they are sufficiently advanced in skill) go to shows or camping expeditions, where a whole new set of skills are needed!
3. It gives children the opportunity to work with another person (their instructor) and another living "partner" (their horse) to meet and achieve their goals.
4. Having the opportunity to get away from everyday life and enjoy the outdoors, whether on a trail ride or out in the roundpen.
5. The possibility of discovering a life-long passion and developing career opportunities in the equestrian world.
Q: Is horseback riding a dangerous sport?
A: Like all sports, horseback riding does possess a degree of danger. Horses are their own creatures, and sometimes a horse who has never bucked or spooked in ten years may do something uncharacteristic. No one can predict these kinds of "freak accidents", which is why it's always best to be prepared even if the horse you're riding is the most gentle-tempered animal in the herd. Also rare but plausible is the infamous slipped girth or other equipment issues. Always double-check your equipment before getting on. (Or have your instructor do it if you are taking lessons.) Always wear a helmet even if you are over 18 and practice general safety rules, such as never standing directly behind the horse while grooming, to minimize the risk of accident whenever possible.
Q: How old should I or my child be to start riding? Is there an ideal age?
A: Anyone can enjoy riding a horse, from age 3 to 83; but in order to reach the kid-size stirrups and have the coordination needed to develop important skills, age 5 is the average. (If you have a little one who is absolutely in love with everything horses, we can still give them a pony ride!)
Q: What should I know before my first lesson?
A: Your instructor will explain the basics of riding on your first lesson, but a few good rules of thumb are:
A.) Don't surprise your horse by running up and yelling, especially from behind.
B.) Watch your feet! Because of the location of their eyes and material in the hoof, they can't see or feel their hooves, so they won't even know it if they step on you!
C.) Always listen to what your instructor says and immediately do it. If it doesn't make sense to you, you can ask questions later, but horses are big creatures and your instructor may be telling you to do something to prevent you, your horse or someone else around you from being hurt.
Q: Is there anything I should bring or wear to my riding lessons?
A: Yes! You should always wear some kind of closed-toed, heeled shoe or boot while riding. Riding boots are obviously made specially for riders, but any closed-toed shoe with a 3/4 inch heel will do. This is because if the horse were to ever spook and you fell off the saddle, without a heeled shoe your foot could slip through the stirrup, causing you to be dragged. (Fortunately this is an extremely rare occurance, but safety first!)
It is a good idea to wear jeans, riding breeches or full-length pants while riding so that you don't get chafed by the saddle, and if you have long hair you may want to put it up before your lesson so it won't be in your way. If it's hot outside, be sure to drink a sufficient amount of water before a lesson and bring a water bottle for a mid-lesson water break.
If you wish to bring your own saddle or other tack for your lessons it may provide better fit and comfort, however due to the possibility of ringworm, rainrot or other contagious skin conditions we would ask that you do not use brushes, saddle pads and other similar items on our lesson horses that have been used on other horses outside our stable. Thanks.
Q: Should I lease a horse or take lessons first? When is a good time to lease?
A: It is always best to take lessons with an instructor before riding alone, as you will often do with a leased horse. This way you can develop confidence and skill as a rider and know how to spot potential problems before going solo. How long you take lessons before you should lease will depend upon your personal skill. Different people develop skills at different rates, so you may be ready after a year or only a few months. Adults who have learned to ride as children often find themselves advancing at an astounding rate, as for them "riding lessons" are more like "memory joggers".
Leasing also depends upon the horses available and how those horses match your individual goals and skillset. E.g.: Some horses respond better to leg aids than to reins, so if a student rider who is very "hands-oriented" leases that horse they may find it more difficult to get the horse to respond. Before leasing a horse from any facility, it is a good idea to get as much information as you can about that animal before you sign the contract.
Q: Should I lease a horse before I buy one?
A: This depends a lot on your financial situation and the availability of the animal(s) in question. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to lease before buying, as you will learn a lot of hands-on skills about how to care for and maintain a horse that would be difficult to learn through private lessons. Horses are also an expensive animal to own, and leasing will help you become aware of those expenses beforehand so that you'll know just what you're getting into. (Too many horses have been abandoned at shelters because their owners did not bother to learn or research, and simply paid the up-front cost without being able to afford the maintenence.)
In addition, some places do offer "lease-to-own" or "free-lease" programs, where your lease contributes to the purchase price if you did choose to buy the animal. These are great opportunities to get a feel for the horse-world without diving headlong into the deep end of the pool.
Whenever leasing or buying a horse, always consider your goals, your needs and your abilities in comparison that of the horse. Some horses may be wonderfully tempered, well-trained, and all around great animals, and still be a bad fit for that specific rider. There is no such thing as the perfect horse just like there is no such thing as the perfect person, but a good fit between horse and rider should compliment the strengths of each, not exagerate their weaknesses.
Q: Can I let others ride my horse once I buy or lease him?
A: Anyone riding on the Graymour Stables premises will require a safety waiver before they may use our equipment or facilities regardless or their relation to the boarder or leaser. Boarders own their horse, and so once a waiver is signed may do as they please with their horses. Leasers must have any other riders sign a safety waiver and have the name of any additional riders listed as a guest on the lease contract. (Maximum of four allowed) For small children who just want "pony rides" (sitting on the back of a horse and being led around by an adult) and will be carefully attended, please ask our management.