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GSUSA created a new Horseback Riding badge in 2015. This badge is featured on the back of the Girl Scout S'mores cookie.

Riding a horse is one of the most exciting things a girl can do. But ask any good horseback rider her secret to success and she’ll say that understanding a horse is as important as learning to ride one. Get clued in to horses, and get ready to ride!

Step 1: Know the basics of horseback riding Edit

You want to learn how to ride a horse. Start with the basics: riding styles—Western or English—what kind of gear you and your horse need, and how to talk like a rider.

To understand horseback riding, here’s what you need to know:

  • The difference between Western- and English- style riding. Find out which style you’ll ride.
  • Types of horse riding equipment. What are a saddle, saddlecloth, bridle, and bit? Find out how to make these comfortable for the horse and rider.
  • The best riding gear for you. Learn about the type of pants (long are recommended to avoid pinching or scraping on the straps and buckles), shoes (boots or closed-toe shoes with a smooth sole and at least a half-inch heel to prevent feet from sliding through stirrups), and a safety helmet designed for horseback riding.

CHOICES - DO ONE:

Interview a horse expert. This could be someone at an equestrian store, riding stable, Girl Scout camp, or horse ranch. Ask about the di erent styles of riding and the gear you’ll need for you and your horse.

OR

Invite an expert to talk to your troop. How about a trainer from a riding stable, a groomer, or someone else who knows about horse equipment and gear? Ask about the di erent styles of riding and the gear you’ll need for you and your horse.

OR

Take a horse workshop at a Girl Scout camp or community center. Find out when workshops are hosted so you can learn about the di erent styles of riding and the gear you’ll need for you and your horse.

Step 2: Take care of a horse and learn about safety Edit

Horses are beautiful animals, but they are large and powerful. Some people even think they’re a little scary. They can be, especially if you don’t know their habits and needs, or how to be safe around one. Caring for a horse is a great way to get comfortable. To guide you through this step, see the box on the left for what you need to know about horse care and safety.

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Spend time with a groom at a riding stable. Assist someone who grooms horses. Brush and feed a horse. Ask if you can help clean a stable! Practice makes perfect, so do these things more than once if possible. And don’t forget to ask about horse safety and anything else you want to know.

OR

Spend time with a large-animal veterinarian or horse trainer. Join her while she works around horses and learn how to brush and feed a horse. Ask if you can help clean a stable! Practice makes perfect, so do these things more than once if possible. And don’t forget to ask about horse safety and anything else you want to know.

OR

Spend time with a groom at a Girl Scout horseback riding camp. Assist someone who grooms horses. Brush and feed a horse. Ask if you can help clean a stable! Practice makes perfect, so do these things more than once if possible. And don’t forget to ask about horse safety and anything else you want to know.

Step 3: Prepare for your ride Edit

Before you even begin your ride, you should know certain things, like how to get on and off your horse, not to mention how to tie her so she can’t wander off.

To complete this step, learn how to:

  • Lead your horse. What side should you be on? How close should you be to the horse? How are you holding the lead rope?
  • Mount and dismount your horse. Find out how to get on and off your horse. Walk your horse to a mounting block if you use one.
  • Tie a horse. After you ride, learn how to tie your horse, whether at ringside or in a stable.
  • Work with an adult to saddle and bridle a horse.If your horse is already saddled, nd out how to check the leather or nylon halter equipment that goes over her head and that is used to lead and tie a horse. Make sure it’s strapped tight enough to be secure but not uncomfortable for the horse. Find out how to check the saddle—is it in the correct position and properly secured? Finally, check that the stirrups are adjusted to the right length so that your feet comfortably slide into the correct position.

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Take part in horseback riding at camp.

OR

Take lessons at a horseback riding stable.

OR

Ask a local horseback-riding expert to give you lessons.

Step 4: Practice your ride Edit

Now you are ready to mount your horse, take your reins in your hands, and get moving!

To complete this step, learn how to do these four things and practice them:

  • How to coax the horse into motion. Use your leg squeezes and voice commands.
  • How to use the reins to steer your horse to walk around a ring or on a trail. Make sure you are holding the reins correctly and using the right amount of pressure.
  • How to turn a horse and how to stop a horse.
  • What it means to have good form. 

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Take part in horseback riding at camp.

OR

Take lessons at a horseback riding stable.

OR

Ask a local horseback-riding expert to give you lessons.

Step 5: Go for a ride Edit

If you’re a beginner, it may take a few lessons to get comfortable on a horse. Once you have the basics down, though, it’s time to ride! You can ride your horse in a riding ring or a trail—no matter where you go or what level you are, you’ll experience the ultimate thrill of riding!

To complete this step, learn to do the following, which will help you become a skilled rider:

  • How to walk your horse with control. Keep your walk smooth, and if your horse slows, know how to nudge it with your heels. What commands are you using? How do you get the horse to turn left or right using your reins and leg squeezes?
  • How to trot with ease. Once you’re comfortable with walking your horse, try a trot. This may not happen at your rst or even second lesson. If you’re a rst-time rider, your instructor will know when you’re ready.
  • How to control your horse’s speed. If you’re advanced enough to go into a canter or even a gallop, do so. If not, walk, trot, slow, and stop your horse on command.

CHOICES – DO ONE:

Take part in horseback riding at camp.

OR

Take lessons at a horseback riding stable.

OR

Ask a local horseback-riding expert to give you lessons.