How To Ride A Horse

Horse riding is one of the most enjoyable sports you can do. It’s great for both your physical and mental health, provides unrivaled companionship, and lets you experience the beauty of nature.

But you should know that it takes a lot of training to learn how to ride a horse the correct way.

You’ll need to learn how to mount yourself and position yourself properly, communicate with your horse through different signals, and steer your horse correctly. You should learn how to train your horse and practice groundwork before taking it out for a ride.

How to ride a horse

Practicing groundwork calms the horse down and establishes your authority over them before you go out riding. So, if you would like to learn how to ride a horse properly, start by reading our handy guide.

Mount The Horse

How to ride a horse

First, you’ll need to complete groundwork with your horse. Then, you’ll want to learn how to mount your horse properly. Make sure to stay calm when mounting your horse so that the horse stays calm too. You can use a mounting block to help you if you’re a beginner.

Ask someone else to hold the head still while you mount the horse. From the left near side of the horse, mount carefully by putting your left foot into the left stirrup and pushing your body weight up and over the horse’s back.

Slowly place your right leg over the back of the horse and place your right foot into the right stirrup. You should pick a horse that has been properly trained if you’re just starting out, because they tend to stay calm and cooperate with their rider better than horses that haven’t been fully trained.

Get Into The Correct Sitting Position

How to ride a horse

After you’ve mounted the horse, it’s important that you take a little time to get yourself into the correct sitting position ready for a well-balanced riding session. You should sit straight up with your back and shoulders straight, with your body weight sitting evenly on your buttocks.

You should feel balanced and in control. Next, you’ll need to make sure your legs are in the right position too. Have your heels positioned straight under your hips with your legs facing inward.

It may feel more comfortable, especially as a beginner, to have your legs facing outward, but you should ensure that your legs are facing inward for proper balance and control of the horse.

It should feel as though you’re lightly squeezing the horse with your legs, but take care not to squeeze tightly. The toes of your feet should be placed higher up than your heels are.

Next, make sure you are holding the horse’s reins correctly by forming a fist and feeding the reins through the fist so the reins’ loop is facing up.

Take your two littlest fingers away from your fist and put them outside the reins. Put your thumbs on the top of the reins and keep them secure.

Riding The Horse

How to ride a horse

Now you have correctly mounted the horse and established a proper sitting position for balance, it’s time for the fun part – riding!

If you’re new to riding horses, take your time and practice until you feel comfortable with your control of the horse. Don’t try to do anything you’re not ready for, as this can be dangerous. 

Signaling To Your Horse

How to ride a horse

Learning how to signal your horse to move is very important. There are lots of different signals you need to learn in order to ride a horse correctly. To get your horse to begin walking, squeeze its side gently with both legs. Sometimes, a horse might not respond to this signal.

If this is the case, give it a light kick with your heels, but take care not to kick it too hard as this can cause the horse pain. Some horses also respond to verbal signals, such as tongue clicking, which you can find out by asking its trainer. As the horse begins to walk, follow the rhythm of its head movements with your arms and hands.

Steering Your Horse

How to ride a horse

Steering is a fundamental skill you need to learn in order to ride a horse. If you want to turn right, lightly pull the reins back with your right hand. To turn left, lightly pull them back with your left hand.

You can increase the pull on the reins if your horse doesn’t respond to light pulls, but make sure to do this gradually. If you make sure to look in the direction you want to move, your body will follow suit, which helps you to steer the horse.

Squeezing your legs also helps with signalling because the horse will move in the opposite direction of the pressure.


How to ride a horse

Once you’ve figured out how to signal and steer, you can begin learning to trot. Make sure to practice walking before trotting. Place yourself deep in the horse’s saddle and relax your elbows. Rise from the saddle when the horse’s shoulder moves forward, then carefully sit back into the saddle.


How to ride a horse

After you’ve mastered trotting, it’s time to start cantering. Move your outside leg back and squeeze the horse’s sides with your legs to canter. As you are cantering, the saddle will roll along with the beat of the canter. You should keep the position you usually ride in.

You should work with your horse to keep the natural three-beat rhythm of a canter. It might help new riders to hold the saddle or neck strap as they ride to keep their balance. To slow your horse to a trot, pull the outside rein gently.


How to ride a horse

You should only learn to gallop when you are confident with everything else in this guide. To gallop, lean forward while cantering with your body lifted up from the saddle slightly.

Squeeze your legs gently to increase the horse’s speed. Use your knees to keep balance, and hold the reins in one hand between your thumb and finger.

Release a short amount of the reins across the horse’s neck and hold them in the thumb and finger of your other hand. Keep your hands on the horse’s neck. To slow the horse’s speed, use your reins and return to sitting position. Keep sitting straight and gradually steer the horse into smaller circles until it comes to a stop.


Riding a horse is a great experience and a fun sport for adults and kids alike. But, riding a horse can be dangerous and can cause injury if you haven’t trained properly and lose your balance or control of the horse. That’s why it’s important to master all of the skills required of horse riding one by one.

The best way to become an accomplished horse rider is to take lessons at your local stables. The instructors will be experts in horse riding and will be able to show you the best tactics and how to make the most out of your amazing horse riding experience. 

Catherine McDowl
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