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Despite popular belief, riding a horse (if done correctly) is extremely physical, and hard. One must keep their heels down (with the sturrips at the ball of the foot), in line with their hips, which should be aligned with the shoulders, which should be alligned with the head. The back must be straight, not arched, rounded, but must be relaxed. The arms must be against the torso until the elbow, and the elbow should usually have about loose 90 degree curve, with the hands relaxed in a fist, but the reins go through the space in the middle and ring finger, the thumb like a tent on the index finger. During any gait (walk, trot, canter etc...) the hands must stay still, and the legs must LOOK still even when asking for a transition or lengthening of the gait, or collection of the gait, or even a transfer to another gait. If a rider is a VERY good rider, she or he won't look like they are moving at all. I can tell you, that is HARD to do! Relaxed tension is built up, and so is awareness of the body. When riding you are controling an animal that is MUCH bigger than you (my mare weighs 1350 pounds!) (613.64 KG) I weigh MUCH less than that! I still need to control her movements, which gets quite hard. Sometimes a horse will pull on you! Be prepared, don't pull back, but keep your hands anchored where they are supposed to be, raised about an inch a little in front of the whithers, and pommel of the saddle. If you give the rein to the horse when they are pulling on you, this will teach them that they can get what they want. They can get out of work. When riding you are training a horse all the time. Training it to do what you want it to, or training it NOT to do what you want it to, by allowing it to. Not to say that I'm perfect with riding. It takes a lifetime to be a GREAT rider, and NO ONE can be perfect with it. I have a friend who is so good, at 23, and she's probably going to be in the 2012 Olympics! Not to say I'm bad at riding either. I have handled the type of horse that wants you off their back, and was able to retrain it enough for it to be a very well behaved riding mount.

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Not at all
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I have ridden horses for over 14 years now and it has never been 'easy', even handeling a horse on the ground can be very physically demanding.
A great sport for fitness.
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I totally agree to all your comments, but I have one question. I've been horseback riding for almost 3 years now, but never quite as a sport or training, but now I'm training myself (and my horse) to jump and I'm riding much more now (every other day) and my jeans chafed two wounds to my buttocks near the groove. I was told to stop riding until my wounds cured, and use looser more comfortable clothing afterwards, so now I'm using these lycra pants when riding, but the problem remained. Did this happen to any of you? what did you do? Should I use other type of pants? and if so, which??
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It's actually quite frustrating how many people underestimate the physical demands of horseback riding. I actually wrote an informative speech about how competitive and demanding it is. But I think it's just that people are often misled by pony & trail rides compared to the actual sport.
I've been riding for 13 years now ...& it's still pretty demanding. I truly saw how much horseback riding effected my physical fitness when I quit taking lessons for a couple years and would just ride for fun on the side. I gained weight in a snap! But ... horseback riding is the only sport for me & I love it to death! ...I think it's because it's so original ...& defiantly more challenging than the typical sports out there today.

to MELIE I've never had that problem before. But I've never heard of it either ... I've heard of chafing on the legs. But I'm not exactly sure how to help or fix this ...but you might want to invest in some jodhpurs. Since they are designed for riding & not as thick as jeans. Hope this helps! :]
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I may have a different outlook on horses. I was a working ranch cowboy for many years, a farrier, and wilderness packer and guide. What most people don't realize, is just how dangerous horses are. I've had a broken hip, shoulder, back, ribs, and nose, the ribs and nose multiple times. Anymore, I don't even want to see a horse.
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