All my life, I have always pursued freedom and I loved the things and places that made me feel free. I love to push my limits and always try to go beyond my comfort zone, even if it is difficult. What sets me free, I can 100% say, is the investments I have made in myself. I love working on myself; trying new things, doing something I’m afraid of, turning that fear into a skill, gaining experiences is amazing. For example, when was the last time you was afraid of doing something? Fear indicates a situation that needs to be worked on. Fear means innovation, it is the unknown, it is development. After all, you are not afraid of what you know, because you know what to do. But when you are afraid, you have to come up with new solutions, you step out of your comfort zone and adapt your body and mind. I have added a new fear to my life: horseback riding. It has been one of my biggest passions lately…
How it started..
Actually, it was always my dream, but when I went to Cappadocia, I went on a little horseback riding tour and everything started there. I really liked the communication with horses. As soon as I returned to Istanbul, I immediately researched horse farms. Finally, I decided on Çakırbey Horse Farm. What was important to me was that it was a place where the horses were well cared for and that the surrounding nature was also suitable for riding. After visiting the ranch and seeing the rancher’s passion for horses, I thought that I found the right place. And my adventure began…
I booked a package of 10 private lessons. The fear of falling off the horse, doing the right techniques, the balance, the muscles – all these can be quite challenging at the beginning.
The lesson begins with warming up the horse (walk). Then, the lesson continues from wherever you left off, the techniques are learned, and practical work is done. Finally, a few laps are carried out again to cool the horse.
In the trainings, you learn correct riding techniques in different gaits of the horse. First of all, you start with walk. It is the slowest gait of the horse. Correct sitting on the horse, calf and foot position, rein control, starting the gait, stopping the gait, such basics are trained.
After you are well up on these, the main training begins and you move on to the trot. It is a faster, 2-beat type of gait. The riding technique of the trot is different, you will realize it on the first try, from hitting the saddle hard.😄 Here you have to “stand up” to avoid those bumps: it is like doing tiny squats on the horse. That’s the rhythm. Knees and calves are tight and stable, heels press down, only hips rise and sit. And while you’re doing it, of course, you’re sitting upright.
If you can do the trot freely in the manege without the support of the longe, the controlling lessons begin. You take control of the horse with the help of the reins and the calf. What is taught: circles, serpentine, etc.
Finally, it’s time to canter/gallop. The gallop is the horse’s fastest gait. Again, practice is done under the control of the teacher in the longe. The technique of the gallop is different from the trot, this time there is no standing up, you put all your weight on the saddle and only your lower back moves. So think of it as your hip sliding forward on the saddle in harmony with the horse. You can lean back slightly to maintain balance. You can also gallop the horse in the main position, in which you lean forward slightly.
As you know, I am a person who works out intensely in my daily life, so my muscles are quite strong. But of course, riding was something new to me and at first I had a lot of soreness after the lessons. Especially when I push too hardly, my inner thighs still hurt, but it’s definitely not like the first time. I have uploaded a pilates video that strengthens the muscles used in horse riding, that would definitely help you.🥰
Do not forget that you are not doing equestrian sport alone, but with a living creature. Therefore, one of your days may not fit another day. For example, there were days when I could not adapt to the horse, and there were days when I could adapt perfectly. I was disappointed many times, but no difficulties discouraged me. I went to my training every week with discipline. By the way, I took 1 lesson a week and it was completely sufficient. Away from the chaos in the city, that day of the week I spend with the horses on the farm is like therapy for me and it clears my mind. That’s why I never miss this routine. I took a total of 15 lessons until my equestrian license exam.
Hello to the bruises! As I said above, your calves and inner thighs are putting pressure on the saddle, so think of it as if you are hugging the horse with your legs. Due to this pressure, bruising may occur on the legs when you ride for a long time. While I was preparing for the race, I was training intensely and my legs were bruised.🥰
Equestrian License & The Exam
The Federation for Equestrian Sports announces exams according to cities on certain dates. I was already ready and waiting for the exam announcement, when my teacher informed me. I immediately prepared the documents and made my application.
The exam has 2 parts: theoretical and practical. First, you take a written exam consisting of multiple choice and classic questions. These are general riding-related questions. In the exam, there are also questions related to your own category (endurance, show jumping, dressage, etc.). For example, since I took the Endurance category exam, questions related to this category appeared.
Those who pass the written exam are allowed to take the practical exam. In the manege, the examiner gives you instructions and you must do them quickly and confidently. What can be asked of you in the practical exam: walk, trot, canter, gallop, change of sides, circle, serpentine, getting off the horse and running next to it to make the horse go fast etc. According to my personal experience, it is most important to look confident while riding. If you seem to have full control, the examiner will not force you too much.
After you complete the exam, the examiner tells you whether you passed or not. It was an amazing feeling to hear the words “you passed”. I was rewarded for my hard work for months. Now my license was approved, my category was determined – I was a licensed and registered equestrian and would be now able to participate in the competitions! PROUD MOMENT!♥️ I shared the exam day as an Instagram reel, you can click here to watch.
Well, of course, fashion is something that raises the motivation of people and let’s admit that equestrian fashion is very cool.🙈 I will share what is needed and where I got my clothes from.
What to wear?
1. Breeches: You can also choose comfortable leggings/pants, but there are also special riding breeches. There is an additional fabric on the inside of the knees to provide non-slip in the saddle.
2. Boots & Chaps: You should wear suitable shoes for riding. I prefer to wear boots + chaps. Things to consider when choosing chaps: It should have a full grip and should be suitable for your calf height, it should not exceed your knee. Decathlon’s chaps are very good, I wear size S long.
3. Helmet: You will need a riding helmet to protect your head in the event of falls from a horse. I chose a velvet one, it looks very stylish.
4. Riding Gloves: It’s both stylish and safe. It prevents friction in your hand caused by the reins. It also prevents the reins from slipping out of your hands while riding in rainy weather.
5. Comfy Tops: I wear bodysuits with zip collars when I go riding because it is more comfortable.
Summing up, if you don’t want to spend much money, you can have a look at Decathlon. For more luxury equestrian gears, I can recommend Maya Delorez.
My Next Goals
Now that I have my license, I will be able to participate in endurance races. I already took part in my first race – the Endurance Qualification Competition (20 km). I want to raise my level within this year.🥰 I am also interested in show jumping and dressage, maybe not this year, but next year I want to train in these categories as well.
My biggest dream about riding is to buy my own horse. I hope I can make this dream come true soon.♥️
That’s all I can tell you about equestrian sports. I hope it will be useful for those who are interested and those who are just starting out. Hope you gallop towards your goals!