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A guide to new riders

Shelby Ranch is a western riding facility that focuses on more than just riding—we mix education and fun. At our ranch, we teach about the animals themselves and their behaviour, plus feeding and health.

Shelby Ranch strives to provide a professional, yet fun atmosphere where all those who choose to join us can be themselves to learn in a welcoming facility. We promote health and wellness and dedicate ourselves to help our clients reach their dreams and goals.

At Shelby Ranch we believe:


We believe in the importance of achievement for all our riders.


We are committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages learning.


We are actively engaged in building a community of horse enthusiasts.


We are committed to infusing fun and adventure into everything we do.

What do you wear to your first Riding Lesson?

So you've booked your first riding lesson at Shelby Ranch. After the initial excitement, you may be left wondering what you should wear. While there are a few things you will need you will not be expected to have a fully stocked riding wardrobe at this stage.

At Shelby Ranch we supply certified riding helmets. This is the most important item that you cannot ride without. Approved riding helmets must be properly fitted to the rider so they do not slip on the head, and they should have a chin strap that prevents the helmet from coming off. Riding helmets are specifically designed to protect against the types of head injuries a rider could experience, without interfering with their ability to ride safely. If you decide to purchase your own riding helmet in order to be used at Shelby Ranch it MUST be a certified riding helmet.

Purchasing a pair of cowboy boots is a good idea, it's not essential for your first few lessons. However, make sure that the footwear you ride in has a half inch to one inch heel to prevent your foot from becoming caught in the stirrup. Also, make sure the shoes or boots you wear do not have a wide, thick sole, as these can make it difficult to remove your foot from the stirrup.

Jeans. It can be tempting to wear shorts during the hot summer months, but they offer no protection to your legs, which will be pinched and rubbed by the saddle. You should also avoid pants that could be slippery in the saddle.

Please avoid loose fitting clothing, hoodies, jewelry or scarves, which could get caught up while working around the horse or mounting and dismounting.

Some riders will wear other equipment such as protective riding vests, riding boots, half or full chaps. This additional equipment is something you may choose to purchase at some point, but is not required to start riding at Shelby Ranch.

Riders who follow these guidelines will have a safe and comfortable ride at Shelby Ranch - essential ingredients to have fun and learn new skills!


Arrival Time

Check with your instructor regarding your assigned horse. In most cases, you will be riding the same horse for lessons, but there may be times when that horse is unavailable.

We do not guarantee that a specific horse will always be available to a specific rider. Please groom and tack up your horse when you arrive.

Grooming and tacking up is an important part of horsemanship and all students are expected to learn how to do it by themselves. Students (except for leadline) are expected to have their horse groomed, tacked and in the ring when the lesson group goes to the arena.

Each horse has his/her own bridle which is tagged. Saddles should fit both the horse and rider, ask your instructor about the appropriate saddle for you, remember that the same horse may take a different size girth depending on the saddle used.

In some cases, your horse may be in the ring doing an earlier lesson. Check that the tack fits you before mounting. Your instructor will check the condition of your horse and tack prior to the start of a lesson.

If you are late you will miss that portion of the lesson.


1) Anyone mounted on a horse, at any time and for any reason age 18 and under must have an ASTM/SEI helmet on his/her head. There are no exceptions to this requirement. Bicycle helmets are not acceptable. If you do not have your own helmet, please use one of the helmets available for students in the tack room.

2) All students must wear shoes or boots with heels while riding. No sneakers. If you have any questions about your footwear, please contact your instructor.

3) All students must complete a release prior to mounting a horse.

4) Horses are lead to and from the ring, unless the instructor indicated otherwise. Mounting will take place in the ring.


Horses must be untacked, groomed and returned to their paddock at the end of the lesson unless your instructor has arranged otherwise.


Payment must be made prior too mounting. You may prepay for a package of lessons or pay per lesson.

Routine for Parents

Parents are welcome to watch their children ride. For safety and stable management reasons, only riders are permitted in the riding arena. Parents, relatives and friends are welcome to watch lessons. However we ask that the conversation be kept at a low volume as it is very difficult to have to raise our voices above chatter in order for the student to hear the instructor.


Our horses may be fed apples and carrots as treats. We recommend you feed them after your lesson.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What can I expect at my first riding lesson?

A: Riding lesson formats vary. Initial lessons typically focus on grooming and handling in order to teach the preparation of the horse for riding and safe handling techniques on the ground.

Q: How long do I ride for?

A: Riding lessons are one hour in length but not riding for the whole hour. You need to allow time for tacking & untacking.

Q: What should I wear to my first lesson?

A: As a new rider, you may not want to invest a lot of money into purchasing a full riding wardrobe until you are sure the sport is right for you! However, there are a few items you must have for safety. Shelby Ranch supplies certified helmets if you do not have your own. You will need footwear with a half inch to 1 inch heel. No wide shoes or thick soles they can get caught in the stirrup.

Q: Will I need to buy a saddle or bridle?

A: No, Shelby Ranch supplies bridle, saddle & equipment you need for the horse you will be riding.

Q: My child wants to ride and I'd like to try it too, but are lessons just for kids?

A: Riding Lessons at Shelby Ranch are for everyone! Regardless of your age or riding level, riding lessons will enable you to develop correct skills in a safe environment.

Q: I'm not interested in showing. Should I still take lessons?

A: Of course! Everyone has their own riding goals.

Q: How old does my child need to be to participate in riding lessons?

A: The age at which a child is ready to take riding lessons depends on the individual. Every child matures differently both physically and mentally which needs to be taken into consideration. Children ages 2-4 qualify for riding lessons but it is recommended they ride with a lead line under the control of a Shelby Ranch Horse Handler.

Q: How old is too old to take up riding?

A: Riding has no age restrictions. If you are physically capable of mounting and dismounting and are able to endure the physical challenges riding places on the body, why not give it a try?

Q: My horse crazy child is starting riding lessons. Should I buy them a horse?

A: Owning a horse is a big investment - one that shouldn't be taken lightly. While every "horse crazy" child dreams of having their own horse, it's best if they begin riding lessons or if they want more time in the saddle a riding package (lease). Before purchasing a horse you want to make sure you know what discipline your child wants to ride so you can ensure purchasing the right horse.

Q: What payment method does Shelby Ranch accept? A: Cash, Email Transfer, Debit & Credit.

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