Newcomer Laura Archer has a goal in mind!

People learn to ride for many different reasons - for Laura Archer it's so that she can join her friends on a beach ride for their 40th birthday celebration. Yet in doing so Laura will also be overcoming a fear of horses.
There's something else too - Laura's working to a very strict timetable so is likely to have just six lessons. Luckily she and her instructors at Newark Equestrian Centre in Nottinghamshire are up for the challenge.
“When I was nine I had my first experience of riding on an activity holiday. I fell off and it scared me - as I got older I didn't like being near horses but I didn't admit to it” explained Laura.
“I got on a horse again in my early 20s, in Antigua, when my now husband, who can ride, proposed to me. Even then I was really nervous of the horse.
‚Äö√Ñ√∫Three friends of mine are 40 this year and they are celebrating with a hack on a beach. They can all ride and are experienced. I thought to myself 'I'd love to go' so I came to Newark Equestrian for my first lesson. 

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“I didn't even think I'd actually get on the horse but I've surprised myself. Jo Leigh, who has been teaching me, has been boosting my confidence. For my first lesson I got to know the horse a bit before I got on, as I brushed him and put his saddle and bridle on him.
“Then we came into the arena and I had a step-by-step guide on how to get on. Then we went for a little hack in walk.'
Horse Answers Today caught up with Laura as she finished her second lesson. “I've just trotted for the first time, I can't believe it” she said. “I am quite amazed at how much I am enjoying this.”

If you want to give riding a go then here are some tips to think about before you get on a horse.

* Confidence is everything so it is vital you learn to ride at a proper riding school. You can find schools that are approved by the British Horse Society and/or by the Association of British Riding Schools. Both organisations have websites so you can find the nearest approved school in your area.

* Go to look at the school before you book a lesson. You should be made to feel welcome and the staff should be friendly, polite and helpful. If they are not, perhaps you need to find somewhere else! You are going to have to trust these people - and this is particularly important if, like Laura, you are nervous about taking up riding. You really need to feel comfortable and that your business is important to the school.

* Do ask how many people will be in your lesson. If it is possible you will find that you make much more progress if you have a one-to-one lesson. If you are expected to join a lesson with eight others it can be very off-putting and the chances are that you will not learn a great deal. Try to watch a beginner's lesson if you can - to give you an idea of what to expect!

* If you have any horsey friends ask them for recommendations of riding schools to attend. Perhaps one of them will accompany you on an initial visit to a school to give you feedback. 

* You can find out in advance from your chosen school what they advise newcomers to wear for their first lessons. You probably haven't got your own riding hat but they should be able to loan you one that fits reasonably well. You should also be advised to wear boots with a heel. Be wary if they are happy for you to ride in trainers as this really is not safe.

* Look out for our next set of tips for new riders, and find out about our second featured rider, who is returning to riding after a break of around 20 years! All this will be available on the website on Wednesday April 4th

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