Do Horses Like To Be Ridden?

The history of humanity can be written from the saddle of a horse, and that is because human evolution and history go hand in hand with horse riding.

Horses have been one of the most useful animal companions throughout history, all around the world, performing all sorts of jobs that have helped humans along.

From becoming a means of transport to helping us plow the fields, to even the bloody history of battles and wars. Horses put simply, are intrinsically linked to the human experience of life.

Do horses like to be ridden?

Nowadays, horses aren’t really needed as much, as technology has taken over. However, horses still remain companions, and many people take up horse riding as an activity. After all, riding a horse can be a lot of fun! 

But have you ever wondered how horses feel about it? Have you ever wondered whether they actually like being ridden or not? We can’t exactly ask them, as we can’t outright communicate with horses.

But horses do have a way of communicating things with us, and it is quite easy to tell when a horse is enjoying being ridden, and when a horse wants you off. 

As a general rule, and overall, horses do like being ridden. That is domesticated horses that are used to human contact, and that thrive with the bonding that being ridden provides.

Horses love to stay active, and when they get along with their rider, they can have as much fun as you! 

Of course, this does not apply to all horses. Some horses don’t like being ridden, but usually, it is pretty obvious, and they will let you know.

After all, horses are bigger and stronger than us, if they really don’t want you on their back, you won’t be able to stay on it for long! 

But since being ridden can be liked or disliked, depending on the individual horse, let’s go through some of the tell-tale signs, so you can learn to notice them!

Do horses like to be ridden?

Signs Of A Horse That Likes To Be Ridden

Most domesticated horses enjoy being ridden by their owners or usual riders, as it is an activity that strengthens the bond and trust between them,

and it can be a mentally and physically stimulating exercise in which the horse is able to challenge itself, learn new things, and put some skills to use! In fact, most horses would become incredibly bored without this form of daily activity! 

If you and your horse get along, and you go riding often, then your horse most definitely likes being ridden, and probably looks forward to it. But if you’re not sure, here are some tell-tale signs that confirm when a horse likes to be ridden:

You Can Catch And Saddle The Horse With Ease

If you are able to easily catch and saddle your horse when it is time to go riding, then this is a sign that your horse likes it.

If your horse didn’t want to be ridden, they would run away from you and would avoid getting caught and saddled. They would be fidgety, making it hard to be saddled up and prepared for the riding session. 

That being said, sometimes your horse might feel lazy, or might turn the running away into a game, and this doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like the riding!

It Is Easy To Mount The Horse

When you get on a horse, ideally your horse is standing still, so that you are able to take that tiny leap and climb on, without falling on your face.

Right? Well if your horse is patiently standing still, this is a good sign that they are allowing you to get on, and that they, therefore, like being ridden. 

If the horse didn’t want you on their back, they certainly would not be standing still as you try to get on! 

Do horses like to be ridden?

The Horse Pays Attention To You And Your Commands

A horse that doesn’t like being ridden will be unfocused, nervous, and fidgety. They will be looking for a way out, and will not be engaging in your commands or directions. 

So if your horse is paying attention to you, listening to your commands, and heeding your directions, then this is a great sign! This means that the horse is engaged in the activity, and eager to follow your lead.

Do horses like to be ridden?

The Horse Listens To You

An obedient and well-behaved horse, during the riding session, is a horse that likes being ridden. If the horse didn’t enjoy it, they would make that known, and would be doing the opposite of what you ask them to do! 

That being said, some horses are harder to handle than others, and this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like being ridden, it just means they need the right kind of rider. 

Your Horse Is Relaxed And Happy

If your horse seems relaxed and happy while being ridden, then trust the signs! If the horse didn’t enjoy being ridden, it would look sad, nervous, uncomfortable, or scared. Basically, you can usually tell what a horse is feeling by its posture and movement. 

Signs Of A Horse That Doesn’t Like To Be Ridden

Now that we’ve gone through the signs of a horse that enjoys being ridden, let’s go over to the flip side and talk about the signs of a horse that does not like being ridden. 

The Horse Is Hard To Catch And Saddle

If the horse keeps running away and tries to avoid being saddled, this is usually a sign that it does not want to be ridden. 

The Horse Is Restless And Uncooperative

If the horse seems restless and isn’t cooperating with your commands or directions, this is a sign that it is not having a fun time. The same goes for when the horse won’t stand still for long enough to allow you to get on. 

The horse Tries To Throw You Off

Remember how we said that if a horse doesn’t want to be ridden, you probably won’t be able to hang on for long?

Well, the horse trying to throw you off is the biggest sign of it not wanting to be ridden, and some horses can try in all sorts of creative ways! 

Ears Pinned Back, Flared Nostrils, And Swishing Tail

These are all signs of discomfort, and they could indicate that your horse is not enjoying the activity and that it does not like being ridden in that current situation or moment. 

Since most domesticated horses tend to really enjoy being ridden, a horse that doesn’t like to be ridden usually has a specific reason.

It could be that the tack and equipment don’t fit your horse well, and causes discomfort, or it could be that your horse isn’t feeling well and that something is causing pain.

It could also be down to the horse’s mood, or to past experiences that have made being ridden a bad thing. Not to mention that it could also be a specific rider that the horse doesn’t like! 

Basically, if a horse shows signs of not enjoying being ridden, you should try and identify the reason, because there is usually an easy solution.

And if the solution is not easy, then at the very least it is something to work on with the horse. Because eventually, that horse might learn to love being ridden, and it can become a way of the horse staying active, happy,  and healthy! 

Final Thoughts

So…do horses like to be ridden? Domesticated horses, as a general rule, enjoy being ridden by the riders they love and trust.

It is an activity that provides them with physical exercise, mental stimulation, and quality bonding time with the rider. Not to mention that horses love to stay active, and really enjoy a challenge as well as learning new skills! 

That being said, not all horses like to be ridden. Whether it’s due to past experiences, their temperament, or something being wrong,

some horses might not like to be ridden, and they will let you know by becoming difficult, showing signs of discomfort, and even trying to throw you off their back!

Catherine McDowl
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