how to ride a horse

how to ride a horse

Horseback riding may be enjoyable. To ride a horse correctly, however, requires a lot of instruction and practice. If you want your horse to move correctly, make sure you know how to saddle, steer, and signal. Prior to riding, you must also understand how to teach your horse and work with them on the ground. The most crucial aspect of horseback riding is groundwork, which you must always do before mounting your mount. Before you go on your horse, groundwork may calm them down and let them know who is in charge.

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    Mount your horse . When riding a horse, getting the ground under you is the first thing you should do. You don’t need to do heaps and make your horse tired, but you only need to do a little bit of groundwork! The next thing you should do is carefully mount your horse. Many people are intimidated by the idea of mounting a horse but if you stay calm it should be fun and easy.

    • It’s not a terrible idea to utilize a mounting block if you’re a beginner rider. This is a small wooden structure that you can use to stand on in order to mount the horse. [1] You should also ask someone to hold the horse’s head as you mount. #* From the animal’s left near side, mount it. Put your left foot in the left stirrup and raise yourself over with your torso. Next, lift the right leg gently over the horse’s back and insert your right foot into the right stirrup.
    • If you’re a newbie, choose a horse with experience. Younger or less experienced horses may wiggle and shift when being mounted. Select a mature horse that has a track record of being mellow and agreeable when being ridden. [2]
    • When mounting, hold the reins firmly in your left hand, but not so firmly that the horse backs away from the pressure if someone isn’t holding the horse’s head.
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    Position yourself for balance. Once in the saddle, take a moment to make sure you’re in the proper position for balance. Maintain a straight back. Remember that you should be able to draw a straight line between your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel while you are riding a horse. Keep your shoulders even and straight as well, with the bulk of your weight resting on your seat bones in your buttocks. [3]


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    Get your legs in the right position. Position your legs correctly once you feel completely balanced. For new riders, this may be especially challenging, so take your time to place your legs correctly. Put your heels just under your hips.

    • Your legs need to be bent inward. Many beginning riders have their legs turned outward, as this can feel more natural, with their knees sticking out. Keep in mind that you are essentially embracing the horse with your legs. You shouldn’t squeeze the horse too tightly, but have your legs curved inwards towards the horse. [4]
    • Your heels need to be lower than your toes. An easy stretch or practice for this is to stand on something higher than the ground or even a staircase and push your heels down keeping the balls of your feet on the staircase. [5]
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    Hold the reins properly. Make sure you’re gripping the reins correctly after your legs are in the correct posture. How you hold the reins depends on whether you’re riding English or Western.

    • For English style, make a fist and then pass the reins through the fist so the loop of the reins faces upward. After that, take both of your pinky fingers out of the fist and set them on the outside of the reins. Your thumbs should be on top of the reins to hold them in place. [6]
    • The reins are not looped in Western. The reins of the western bridle are tied in a knot at the top. Always keep the reins slack and hold them in your fists. [7]
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    Learn the various motion signals for your horse. There are several methods to ask your horse to move while riding English-style.

    • Starting off, try gently squeezing your horse’s side with your legs. Your horse should start to walk as a result. [8]
    • If your horse doesn’t react to this, he could need further prodding. You may use your heels to softly kick your horse. But be careful not to kick too forcefully. Despite having thick skins, horses may feel pain if you kick them too hard. A gentle tapping is generally all it takes to get a horse to walk. [9]
    • Sometimes, verbal hints are also helpful. A horse’s reaction to noises and other sounds will depend on how he was taught. If there are any sounds the horse reacts to, ask the trainer. [10]
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    Your arms should move in sync with a horse’s head. When a horse walks, canters, or gallops, his head moves back and forth with the rhythm of his body. As the horse’s head bobs back and forth, let your hands do the same. It may harm the horse if you don’t move with it. When starting a canter, let the horse have a lot of rein because they stretch out their neck when cantering. [11]

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    Learn to steer. It’s crucial that you master horsemanship. Steering in English style if fairly self explanatory.

    • When you ride English, you maintain closer touch with the horse’s mouth. To signal the horse to turn right, very lightly pull back with your right hand. Lightly pull back with your left hand to tell the horse to turn left. If the horse does not respond to the lighter pulling, you can gradually begin to pull slightly harder until the horse responds. [12]
    • To tell a horse to move, you need also utilize your legs and body. It helps to look in the direction you want to go. Your seat bones moving may be felt by horses. You should also gently squeeze your legs to signal a horse to change direction. Squeeze your left leg, for instance, if you want your horse to turn right since the pressure will cause the animal to flee. [13]
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    Learn how to trot . Once you feel comfortable walking, gently push your legs into the sides of the horse to signal the animal to trot. Maintain touch with your legs while sitting firmly on the saddle. To avoid jerking on your horse’s lips, be sure to maintain your elbows relaxed. [14]

    • As opposed to a sitting trot, some riders like a “posting trot.” Given that the trot is a bouncy gait, this may be more pleasant. To do a “posting trot” simply rise when the horses outside shoulder moves forwards, and gently sit back down in the saddle, as to avoid bouncing heavily on the horses back. [15]
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    To canter the horse, step back with your outer leg and squeeze. All horses naturally canter at a faster three-beat pace. When you canter, your seat will roll with the canter and you stay in the position you normally ride in. Before you canter, make sure you are comfortable with both posting trot and sitting trot as both of these are major key points. It takes time to perfect the timing necessary to get a horse to canter.

    • Avoid tensing up. Most beginners will find it beneficial to hold onto a saddle or neck strap while learning to canter to help with their balance so they don’t fall.
    • When you ask your horse to canter, if instead of doing so, he just accelerates into a quicker trot, ask him to walk instead of trot. Make sure you are familiar with posting trot and sitting trot before beginning to canter. Before cantering, gently squeeze your outside rein to slow your horse to a half halt in a trot before using your inside leg by the girth and then soon adding your outside leg behind the girth to give your horse a bit of a push forward.
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    Practice more advanced riding as you feel ready. Learning English-style galloping, jumping, and dressage maneuvers is enjoyable. However, you should hold off until you’ve mastered the basics. Spend at least a few months practicing the above techniques before trying anything new. Inexperienced people should particularly avoid galloping and leaping. [16]

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    Learn to neck rein. Steering is slightly different in Western style than it is in English style “Neck reining” is a technique used while riding Western.

    • Neck reining is the practice of loosely holding the reins while lightly touching the horse’s neck to indicate movement. [17]
    • Move the reins over the horse’s neck to the right to make a right turn. To go left, move the reins across the horse’s neck to the left. [18]
    • Always use your left hand to grasp the reins. Keep your right hand on your right thigh. [19]
    • As with English riding, make sure you use your full body to steer as well. Use your hands, as well as your seat bones and legs.
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    Direct rein during emergencies. It is advised that you briefly switch to English style steering if you need to guide your horse fast. Take hold of the reins with both hands if your horse is not reacting to neck reining. To turn to the left or right, gently draw or grip the left rein. [20]

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    Walk your horse. Begin by moving slowly. You may also squeeze your horse in Western to make him walk. You should follow the motion of his head again, but as you hold the reins looser you might not move your hands as much as you would in English. [21]

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    Jog your horse. While your horse is walking, squeeze his sides gently to signal to him to jog. Western-style riding often excludes trotting from the equation.

    • Jogging is a slow, even gait. It’s a little quicker paced than a walk but not as jaunty as an English trot. [22]
    • You can easily sit in a Western jog. Western riding does not need posting trot. [23]
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    Take lessons at a stable. It may be incredibly challenging and requires a lot of time and patience to ride a horse. Look in your neighborhood for a respected stable and enroll in lessons with a seasoned instructor. When starting to take riding lessons, it’s a good idea to have supervision in case you or the horse are hurt. [24]

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    Learn to groom a horse . Horses are groomed somewhat differently, depending on whether they’re kept indoors or outdoors. Always follow the directions and specifications provided by the horse’s owner. But there are some broad guidelines. You should usually groom a horse before riding him.

    • Use a body brush to brush the horse’s fur all over its body, removing the dust, sweat and loose hair from the horses coat. Apply the mane-and-tail comb as necessary to the mane and tail. [25]
    • Next, use a dandy brush on the body and legs of the horse, removing mud and sweat. Because of its tougher bristles, this brush shouldn’t be used on the horse’s face, mane, or tail.
    • To clean the horse’s hooves of mud, grime, and stones, use the hoof pick. If this is not done before you ride, your horse may get a sore foot and go lame.
    • Use a rubber or plastic curry comb on the body of the horse for removing loose hair and mud from the horses coat. Horses who are heavily losing hair are combed with metal curry combs to remove the loose hair.
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    Learn to tack and bridle your horse . A horse must be saddled and bridled before you may ride him.

    • To saddle a horse, position the saddle blanket above the horse’s withers and push it back toward the hind-legs to smooth the hair. The blanket should be tucked into the space left by the front of the saddle once the saddle has been placed behind the shoulder.
    • Attach the cinch or girth and tighten it gently, allowing the horse enough room to exhale comfortably. No more than two fingers should fit beneath the girth or cinch.
    • Make sure the bridle you have is the right size for your horse. Put the bit gently close to the horse’s mouth. Most horses will open their mouths as they’re used to bridles, but if your horse doesn’t gently push your fingers into the sides of the horse’s mouth. Slowly insert the bit, then place the bridle’s top over the horse’s ears. All the straps and buckles should be fastened securely, with the buckles buckled so that you can only comfortably fit one finger beneath the straps.
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Add New Question

  • Question

    How can I ride a horse safely while I’m just starting out?

    Kate Jutagir

    Kate Jutagir is an Equestrian Specialist, Hunter/Jumper Trainer, and the Owner of Blackhound Equestrian, a premier training barn located on 65 acres in Castro Valley, California. Originally designed to be a riding school used as a springboard for dedicated students into careers in the sport, Blackhound Equestrian has grown into a hunter/jumper training program for all levels focusing on providing a solid foundation needed for personal advancement in the sport. Kate has over 25 years of expertise in equestrian training and coaching. Her emphasis on fostering relationships between horses and riders offers both beginning and experienced riders a comprehensive equestrian education.

    Kate Jutagir

    Equestrian Specialist & Trainer

    Expert Answer

    Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer.

    Take advantage of someone mentoring you who has expertise. You should read certain books and thoroughly research horse care and behavior. Buy protective headgear and try setting yourself up to work with a horse that has experience so that they can help guide you. The more interaction and the more time you give yourself with the horse, the more skilled you’ll become.

  • Question

    When a rider quits using horses, what age should he be?

    Community Answer

    However, the majority of healthy individuals can do it for their whole life. It would all rely on the rider.

  • Question

    How do I turn a horse with their mane instead? as if I were riding bareback.

    Community Answer

    When your riding bareback you normally just steer with you legs and hold on to the mane, however, you could gently pull left or right. If your horse is disobedient, it may not work, but it’s worth a go.

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  • When you are frightened or anxious, the horse can tell. When you feel nervous about the horse you are riding, talk to your instructor, they might be able to help. [26]

  • If you’re a novice rider, get a horse that is mature and well-trained. [27]

  • Have a more seasoned rider nearby to provide guidance and coaching if you are a newbie.

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  • Have a knowledgeable rider with you if you’ve never mounted a horse before so they can show you the ropes.

  • Some places have helmet laws. It pays to be knowledgeable.

  • Being prey animals, horses are terrified by crowds of humans approaching them all at once. It is advisable to just have two or three calm individuals approach you for assistance if anything goes wrong. It should be enough to have one for you and one or two for the horse.

  • Helmets can prevent some brain injuries, but will certainly not protect against a broken arm or bruised rib. They may even inspire riders to do things they would never do without a helmet by giving them a false feeling of security at times.

  • A helmet functions similarly to other protective equipment. They may be a help in certain circumstances, but a horse is strong enough that they are certainly no force-field. They may also foster unusual levels of overconfidence.


Article SummaryX

Start by mounting the horse in the stirrups that are located on each side of the saddle. When you get on the horse, sit up straight and tuck your feet so that your legs are embracing the animal. Then, while still holding the reins in both hands, touch the horse’s back softly with your heel to get it moving. Pull back on the reins slightly on the side you want the horse to turn to steer. Gently press your legs into the flanks of the horse when you’re ready to go forward more quickly. Continue reading to discover more from our co-author, a veterinary expert, including the distinctions between riding in the West and Asia.

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