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First Ride

Doing your first ride with SERC?

Here are a few notes to help you at your first Pleasure ride.
Once you get your map and talkround, either by post, or by downloading it from our website, under Library, study it carefully, read the talkround and mark up the map with any points you want to highlight. Most riders find it helpful to pick a target speed, divide the total distance by 4 and mark up your map with the target time & distance.  As you reach each point along the route check your actual time against the target time to check progress then adjust your speed accordingly. Ideally you want to try to keep at a steady trot. You will quickly learn your speed and capabilities.
The ride must be ridden at a minimum speed of 8kmph and maximum speed of
11 kmph for pleasure rides. You will learn more about times and speed after doing a few rides. Usually there are riders quite happy to ride with you if you want. Just ask at admin at the start or prior to the ride. If you wish to go at a faster pace you can enter a training ride where you nominate your speed category.
Riders should be dressed appropriately taking the weather conditions and expected time on horseback into account. Wearing a hard hat that meets the current standards that is fastened securely with a chin strap is a requirement at all SERC rides. A whip of not more than 75cm in length may be carried and spurs are not permitted. A tack inspection may be carried out at the Chief Stewards request.
You must always carry a first aid kit with you (ideally a bum bag not attached to the horse) plus personal identification, along with a note of any allergies or medical conditions you may have. The first aid kit should conprise of the following:- triangular bandage, whistle, vetwrap, glucose tablets, wound bandage and space blanket. Some bum bags may be available for hire at the admin caravan for a small fee for the day. Most riders use a waterproof map case to hold maps and talkrounds.
Aim to arrive at the ride venue in plenty time to give you and your horse time to settle into the surroundings. Go to the Admin caravan to let them know you have arrived. YOu must collect your numbered bib and check there are no changes to the route, or any other info you may require to know about. If you do not have a vet sheet ask for one. Check your starting time as there may be competitive classes to start before you.
Walk your horse around and then take it, untacked, along with the vet sheet to the Farrier if one on the day, and get your horses shoes checked to make sure they are adequate for the ride you are doing. Then, again with your vet sheet, go to the Vetting area where your horse's heart rate and general health will be checked. You will also be asked to trot up your horse to make sure it is sound. If the horse is sound your vet sheet will be signed off and returned to you.  
Tack up your horse, warm it up and go to the start. Make sure you take your signed vet sheet and give it to the timer who will then record your start time and send you on your way.
Go slowly at the start to give your horse time to warm up properly, check your map and talkround and follow the route. It will be marked with coloured tape tied to trees or posts. Make sure you know what colour you are following as there may be other distances with different colours! Markers should be on the left hand side. One marker means you are going the right way and two means that you should make a turn. Do not rely solely on the markers but keep referring to your map as sometimes unknown parties take markers down! Don’t just follow the horse in front as they they may go the wrong way, or be doing a different distance! Don’t let your horse get dragged along by a fitter, faster horse in front. Let them go ahead, keep to your own pace that is right for your degree of fitness.
During the ride you may pass through Check Points (marked CP on your map/talkround). Make sure they get a note of your number so we know where you are on the route. If you want to pass someone please ask “is it ok to pas?” and then do so slowly. The same applies to others wanting to pass you. At the end of the ride make sure you stay mounted to pass through the finish line where you will get timed in.
Once through the finish, dismount and lead your horse back to your box, put a rug over it’s hindquarters to keep his muscles warm, untack and cool your horse down by sponging it’s neck, underbelly and between back legs with water. Towel dry, rug him up according to the weather conditions and offer a drink Walk him gently around to relax and cool off. You have 30 minutes after your finish time to present him to the vet for a final trot up. Do not allow your horse to stiffen up as he may be lame and be eliminated even in a pleasure ride!
Take your horse back to your box give it a small feed and haynet then attend to yourself! Go back to admin, return your bib, collect your results, and hopefully your rosette. Then start planning your next ride!
We hope you have a lovely day, above all enjoy yourself and do not be afraid to ask for help or advice, or watch others to see how they do it. We look forward to seeing you & your horse enjoying yourselves.
Helping out at a ride is a huge learing experience and we always need heplers or our rides could not go ahead, so please let us know if you can help out at any rides.
Please remember we have to get permission to ride on some private land so please be courteous to landowners and respect their land/property.
Finally, please always tidy up and take home any litter, horse droppings or left hay etc.
Kind Regards
Karen Graham
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