Leave your troubles at the gate. If you’re anxious or sad or (especially) angry, then maybe put off riding until you can get your emotions in check. When I first started I was treating the horse like the elliptical at the gym, a place where I could let my mind wander – boy was that a wrong idea!
Be prepared. There’s a lot of stuff to haul around and take care of with riding. Not just your tack, but all the little things that you need to have at hand when you need them. More than once I’ve put a horse in the cross ties only to realize I didn’t have the right brush or a towel, so I had to leave the horse to retrieve the item.
A little goes a long way. This goes for almost everything from shampoo to your aids. You can always add more, but you can’t take back.
Be careful. If you’re lucky like I am you are around horses that are well-trained and love people, but they are large animals and it’s up to us to keep ourselves out of harm’s way – I’ve been stepped on a few times and it puts a real damper on your day.
If you fall, get up. Get up, but take your time. Take a minute to pull yourself together and make sure you aren’t injured, but if it’s at all possible, get back on your horse (assuming they are also OK).
Be respectful. At my barn there isn’t a lot of security and trust plays a huge part in our community. Never borrow someone else’s stuff without asking, even if you’ve done it in the past with their blessing. Keep your tack and other equipment clean and clean up after yourself and your horse. Get to know what's appropriate for each horse that's around you with regard to contact. Some owners don't like others just coming up and putting their hands on their horse, and its always a good idea to get to know a horse a little bit before you make contact.
Be aware of changes in your horse’s body and demeanor. I’m still getting to know my horse, and I rely on my trainer to let me know if something happened while I wasn’t there, but you should be the main caretaker for your horse, body and mind.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As I’ve said before, sometimes it feels like the learning curve I’m on is so steep I’m bound to lose my balance. Nobody ever learns everything there is to know, that’s impossible. There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
Get to know your neighbors. Both my human and equine neighbors at the barn are an integral part of my experience and I make a point to introduce myself and keep the communication alive. My horse is around these other horses every day and I should be comfortable with them if I expect her to be, ditto for their people.
Every day I learn something from other bloggers and from my general reading and my time at the barn. I hope some of these points have been at least a good reminder and perhaps a nice memory of when you were just starting out, how wonderful yet terrifying it can be.