Horse Riding For Beginners
What You Need to Know

Horse riding for beginners should be fun and exciting! If you are new to horses hang on for some of the most fun you’ve ever had.

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Choose what you want to learn about horses on this page!  

You'll find information on things like how to approach, stop and saddle a horse as well as proper grooming, haltering, bridling techniques and so much more!

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You can start by clicking on one of the images below of a topic you are interested in, or read on for horseback riding for beginners tips.

Riding horses is exhilarating, and will challenge you physically and mentally. Good horseman spend a lifetime learning how to improve their riding. You've got to start somewhere.

Safety First

When starting horse riding for beginners, safety should be your first concern. No one wants to get hurt.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of friends and family members that rode a horse and had a bad experience.

Whether you are headed out for your first trail ride or signed up for your first horseback riding lesson you can learn these basics to enjoy your ride.

In the Saddle

Proper Clothes and Shoes for Riding Horses

Come with the proper horse riding gear.

You should have the minimum attire of jeans and boots that have a heel.

  • If you don’t have sturdy boots, sneakers are the bare minimum.

You are best to have something with at least a 1” heel and good traction on it to help keep your foot from sliding around in the stirrup. They will protect your toes on the ground.

  • No shorts or Capri's should be worn because the skin on your legs will get rubbed raw by the saddle as the horse moves.
  • Do not wear open toed shoes.

You most definitely don’t want a hoof with a metal shoe on it that transmits several hundreds of pounds of pressure on your bare foot. Ouch!

Helmets are a Must!

Horse riding for beginners also should include a certified helmet that is made for riding horses. You can read more about helmets and why they are so important on my horseback riding helmets page.

Tips to Keep you Secure in the Saddle

Horse Riding for Beginners Tip #1

  • Riding is a lot more about balance on the move than gripping with your legs.

Try to sit squarely in the saddle, moving your body with your horse. The more tense you are, the more you will bounce. Stay in tune with how he is moving. It will be less likely that you will be to be thrown off balance.

For beginners I tend to tell them to sit near their back pockets but without slouching the upper body.

Having your weight set further back will help keep you secure if the horse stops suddenly. Think of driving in a car without a seat belt. If the driver suddenly hits the brakes you’ll go flying forward.

Same thing on a horse except you won’t have the seat belt to keep you in the saddle! The same is true if you are sitting too far back on the horse, if he heads off quickly you’ll be left behind.

Horse Riding for Beginners Tip #2

  • Always look where you are going.

Horses are very intuitive. They feel the slightest movements and are also great at reading our intentions. So look up and where you want to go and it will help you guide your horse there along with your leg and rein aids.

Horse Riding for Beginners Tip #3

  • The ball of your foot (the widest part behind your toes) should be where your foot sits on the stirrup.

You don’t want to have your feet in any further than that or you risk getting hung up in case of a fall. Point your toes to the sky while riding.

Horse Riding for Beginners Tip #4

  • Hold your reins evenly and don’t have too much slack in them.

How you hold the reins will vary whether you are riding English or Western. Western riders hold their reins in one hand and don’t have contact with the horses mouth because there is a small bit of slack or loop.

Western beginners tend to hold the reins too long making it difficult to make a correction with them if needed.

English riders hold the reins in two hands and with more contact or feel on the reins. Beginner English riders can tend to use the reins to keep their own balance by hanging on them.

This ends up hurting the horses‘ mouth as your hands bounce all over the place with the weight of your body too. If you are riding English, you will need to do your best to keep your body balanced with your hands level and still.

Horse Riding for Beginners Tip #5

  • Don’t forget to breathe while you are riding!

Beginners have a tendency to hold their breath especially as the horse moves up in speed and gait. This can give you a side ache, back ache and transmit emotional tension to your horse.

On the Ground

  • You’ll always greet your horse on the ground first, so knowing appropriate ground handling skills is essential for your safety.

Since horses are so big and sometimes can be unpredictable, you’ll want to know the following:

Do as Horses Do

When introduced to your horse offer the back of your hand to him to smell.

That is called a “horseman’s handshake” and it is how horses greet each other.

  • It seems like a small thing but in the horse world it is a proper introduction.

You can compare this to visiting another country. You may be accustomed to a handshake, but another culture may greet each other in a different manner.

  • Many instructors don’t teach this simple technique, but it will gain you points with the horse.

I hope you have enjoyed learning some basics about horse riding for beginners.

Most horses are very nice and like people but it is best to know how to stay safe.

The horse you are going to ride is probably used to beginners too, that generally makes him more forgiving of your mistakes.

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