Horse Riding for Absolute Beginners

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

While incredibly fun and exciting, horse riding can also be challenging. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of preparation, and a special connection between the horse and the rider. More often than not, it takes years of patient work for riders to become professionals at riding. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere, and all beginnings can be challenging. If you are a beginner horse rider, don’t rush into things. Getting too far ahead of yourself can lead to accidents, injuries, and potentially fatal situations. Horse riding accidents are no joke, so before mounting a horse, follow these tips and tricks reserved for horse riding for absolute beginners!

What to Know Before Riding a Horse – Step By Step Process for Beginners

It would be silly to think that absolute beginners can’t ride a horse. It is not logical to think so, since everyone was an absolute beginner at one point. Still, you should not rush into it unprepared, or without professional supervision. There are many aspects to horse riding, from the abilities of the horse, to the environment, and then to you personally. Only when everything is in balance, can riding begin. 

First and foremost, is the safety equipment. When riding horses, safety is paramount. These are magnificent and powerful animals you are working with, and such power carries with it plenty of potential danger. Before you get up on a horse, put on your safety helmet, designed for horse riders especially. You should never mount up without your helmet on, even after years of riding. Remember that once astride, you are several feet up in the air. If you happen to fall off a horse at high speed, and from such a height, hitting your head on the ground can be fatal. It goes without saying that helmets should always be on. If you can, secure your riding boots and other horse-riding equipment. Every bit counts, not only because of safety but because of easier riding as well. 

Once the equipment is secured, it's riding time. Of course, if you never rode a horse, you should not begin without supervision and all on your own. Do it with professionals and on specially trained horses. But even so, you will want to stay alert at all times and composed. Don’t get too excited or relaxed, but stay on your toes mentally. Keeping on top of the situation can help you master the basics faster.

When mounting up on your ride, you will want someone to hold the horse and keep it steady. A fidgety and scared horse can make mounting difficult. Now, supposing that your saddle is all hooked up and secured properly, you can proceed to climb up. Place your left foot into the stirrup while standing at your mount’s side. Don’t push your entire foot into the stirrup – just the front part. Keep the reins loose in your hand, gently rise up on your stirruped foot and swing your free leg (the right one) over the horse and onto the other side of the horse. With that, you should be able to gently sit down into the saddle and place your other foot into the other stirrup. Simple as that, you are on a horse. Of course, if this procedure is too challenging for you, you can use a special mounting block or a step ladder.

Now it is on to the riding. Your horse riding instructor should tell you all the details, and the “riding” will probably be a light walk or a slow trot. Nevertheless, you should be as relaxed as possible, and not frightened. If you’re cool and collected, your horse will be calm as well. Keep the reins loose in your hands at all times and sit straight, tall, and firm. When it is time for your mount to move forward, you should give them a gentle nudge or squeeze with both of your heels. If this signal is too soft and the horse does not register it, you can bump with the heels instead, albeit gently. This is the classic cue for beginning to walk. Any other instructions from your riding instructor should also be taken into account. 

While walking, you can simply turn into a light trot – or a “horse jog”. Just bump the horse lightly again, in the same way as before, and they should take the cue to speed up. You will notice that the movements are different, and a lot bumpier as the horse jolts up and down. This might be odd at first, or even uncomfortable, but remember that it is all about practice and getting used to it. Listen to the instructor’s tips and rules, and you’ll be good. In time, you should be able to learn galloping, canter, and all the other paces of horse riding. Be perseverant! 

Follow the teacher’s instructions about stopping the horse. Slow the movement down to a slow walk, and gently pull on the reins. This is the signal for stopping, and can be accompanied by a low vocal command: “Oooh”. Once halted, you can slowly dismount. Again, keep the reins loose in your hands, and then complete the mount-up procedure, but in reverse! It shouldn’t be too challenging, especially with your riding instructor by your side. 

And that’s that! In a few simple moves, you can complete your first beginner’s horse ride. Again, do not do it unsupervised, with an untrained horse, or with other beginners. Injuries can occur in such situations. But in a supervised environment, you should be ok. Everyone can learn to ride horses if they are able: just be patient, confident, and take things one step at a time!

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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