How to Ride a Horse

Horse riding is well past fun, and definitely a thrilling experience. It may be a hobby, or a sport, or simply a need for an exhilarating experience. Taming, when seen as adopting, shows us the biological connection that we ought to share, where “we” include all entities within the universe. Horse riding is a shared experience, it’s not just you experiencing the wind, it’s both you and the horse working together to make it all happen. So, ride with compassion for the animal, and respect for the bonding. Merely taming a horse to develop obedience towards your commands, would be a very narrow perspective, and this alone does not explain the connection. The horse is a close friend to the rider, and vice-versa.

If you have never tried riding a horse before then you might find it a bit scary, and it is likely to be hurtful for the horse. You might come across experienced rookies who would put a chain lead shank under the horse’s nose. Although it does take the horse from point A to point B, using a shank means a giveaway, and it is known as taming, and not controlling.

There are two ways to ride a horse, the English and the Western style of horse riding. Mostly we prefer learning the English style.

English Style of Horse RidingHolding the rein English style

  • In the English style of horse riding, both hands are used to navigate i.e. we use both hands to hold the rein of horse, and control it’s course
  • There is also difference in the seating arrangement. The seat of saddle in this case, is flat and light, and it lacks a saddle horn. Even the stirrups are thinner than those used in Western horse riding.

Western style of horse ridingWestern style

This style of horse riding was used mostly by the cowboys and the ranchers. It is not easy for everyone to learn the Western style of horse riding. Here, we use only one hand to control the ride. Riding a horse using one hand often makes it difficult to control the rein, due to which the saddles used are deep, and contain horns to facilitate balance

Instructions for riding a horse

Learning to ride a horse requires patience till your practice earns you perfection. If your horse starts acting up while riding, you will have to relax. Horses tend to sense the nervousness and tension and this automatically affects their performance. Even if you are tensed or nervous you must never let the horse know it. You must check your riding position as well. If you are clenching your heels to the horse, then this will cause the horse to go faster. If you are yanking or holding the reins of the horse too tightly, this will confuse the horse and agitate the horse as well. If you are doing anything of this, then you will have to correct your position. If your horse is still jumpy, then you will have to ride the horse in tight circles, or follow the course of figure eight. You need to impart obedience in him, but remember that you must never haul on his head. Your task in hand at such times is to make sure that all your actions are perfectly clear to the horse, and to make it realize that whatever the horse is doing will not get him anywhere.

Make sure that you have checked the horse saddle and there are no sharp objects embedded or rough edges on the saddle. If the horse is wearing a breast collar, then check if it is its too tight or too loose. Ideally, the breast collar should be put in such a way that you can fit four fingers under the collar. See if the bit is pinching near the mouth or is too strong for the horse. You can change the way of controlling the horse as well. Always remember that every horse will have a different behavior. If you are used to riding a horse, which needs strong cues for controlling, then you have got in the habit of kicking the horse to speed him up. In such a situation, you must consider that a different horse will not need such a strong kick. You must always use softer aids and never pull hard near the mouth. Take off the double bridle, spurs or crop before you use them. These things can scare the horse, annoy him or he may simply dislike it. The horse will never need artificial aids.

Getting Ready

  • Dress-up perfectly for comfort and to facilitate a smooth ride. Wear your riding boots, people mostly prefer wearing riding boots that are hard and can fit easily in the stirrups.
  • Wear a riding helmet. This is for safety as there is always a possibility of falling down at high speeds. Rookies are bound to pass through such a phase, so ride carefully and try to reduce the number of times you’ll fall.
  • Wearing riding gloves is a must; these gloves are made up of leather that will prevent your palms from slipping off.


  • It is very important to hold the reins of the horse properly, flip them around your hand and make sure that your thumb stays free, so that you can hold it tightly
  • As mentioned earlier, there are two ways of reining a horse, neck reining and bit reining, your method of reining depends upon the reining for which the horse is trained

How to Mount a Horse

  • Always mount a horse from the left side
  • Hold the reins in your left hand while putting your left leg on the stirrups. Then sit on the saddle of the horse. Now, hold the rein on the other side and put your leg on the stirrups on other side
  • Sit on the horse with your back straight and toes pointed


While mounting down from the horse hold both the reins in your left hand, and take both the legs off the stirrups. If the horse is moving forward while you are dismounting, then pull the reins slightly backwards.

Speeds of horse riding

  • If you want to walk, then pull the reins slowly or shake your legs slowly to touch the horse
  • If you want to trot, give another squeeze of legs, and keep a firm hold on the horse while you are doing so
  • Giving another squeeze to the horse will signal the horse to gallop. Horses will slow down or stop mostly when you pull the reins backwards.

Please be gentle.

Related Content:

  1. How to Ride a Gaited Horse
  2. How to Take Care of a Horse
  3. How to Ride Sidesaddle
  4. How to Teach a Horse to Dance
  5. How to Ride Dressage

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