Horse Riding: How to Ride a Horse Safely

No book, website, or video can teach you horse riding effectively. The ideal approach to learning horse riding is with a proficient instructor or coach, who can detect negative behavior patterns, correct the errors you may commit, encourage you, and counsel you on how to ride comfortably and safely. Although accidents are inevitable, safety is of utmost priority when learning to ride a horse as a beginner.

Nevertheless, you can acquaint yourself by learning about what you’ll be practicing on a horse. Here are vital things you need to understand before mastering the art of horse riding.

Before You Start Your Ride

Do you know that the first thing you should realize while undergoing horse riding lessons may not have anything to do with a riding skill? You may find some riding schools that ask you to get on a horse and start riding. Nonetheless, you should learn essential skills such as grooming, leading, and tying, which will help you to understand how horses behave and upgrade your enjoyment while staying safe. This is particularly essential if you plan on heading out on your own as soon as possible.

Saddle Up

After safely tying and grooming your horse, you can then saddle it up for a ride. Make sure to understand how to put on both Western and English bridles and saddles. Also, learn how to prepare the cinch on Western saddles.

Mounting Up

After grooming, saddling up, and readying your horse for a ride, you may want to jump on it. But it would help if you did not rush things. It’s vital to learn how to mount the horse and sit properly on the saddle while riding. As a beginner, you can use a mounting block.

Walk On

During the early stages of your riding practice, you may feel unbalanced and awkward. It may be tough to get your body parts to perform all that you need to do simultaneously. The muscles you use may not be familiar with the new tasks you demand, and it may be challenging to remember all you need to do. Practicing remains key.

Walking, Halting, and Turning

After mounting and sitting correctly, the next step is to cue your horse to walk. For safety purposes, you must learn halting before walking.


Hold the reins firmly and squeeze backward. Your horse should feel the backward pull and stop.


Hold the reins to feel the contact between the bit and your hands. Use the lower part of your legs to squeeze your horse lightly behind its girth area, while your upper legs remain motionless. As you cue using your legs, simultaneously cue using your seat by a slight forward push, using your seat muscles.

How to Turn (English Horseback Riding)

English riders typically turn horses by using a direct rein.

How to Turn (Western Riding)

Western riders usually turn horses by using a neck rein.

Learning to Trot, Jog, Canter, or Lope

As you improve in your riding lessons with more confidence, you can then learn how to ride at a quicker pace. Challenge yourself, but don’t rush it. Practicing to ride a horse should be fun, not frightening.

Trot or Jog

To get your horse trotting or jogging, pull the reins to make a slight pressure on its mouth, squeeze with your calves, adding more pressure than when cueing for a walk. Slightly move your body weight forward. As soon as your horse starts trotting or jogging, release the pressure on its girth.

Canter or Lope

To make your horse to canter or lope with balance, it must be on the proper lead. For instance, when the horse is circling to the right, it should be on the right lead.

Now, to get your horse cantering on the right, pull the reins to make slight contact with its mouth and apply pressure to its girth with your right calf. Slightly move your body weight forward, without shifting to the left.

Safety in Horse Riding

These are not riding skills, but the priority in riding is safety with horses. Your instructor may regularly bring the safety tips to your remembrance as you keep learning because remembering several new things can be tough.

Arena Safety and Etiquette

Just as road rules help to prevent traffic problems, arena etiquette also prevents equestrians from bumping into each other or getting too close to each other. Here are some of them:

  • Keep at least a horse’s length between you and the next horse (ahead or behind).
  • Beginner riders and green horses should have more space than more experienced riders.
  • Using your voice is a great tool for getting the attention of other riders and letting them know your next move.
  • Announce with a loud voice before exiting or entering the arena.

Safety on a Horseback Trail Ride

Horseback trail riding is an adventure that includes a few hazards. Therefore, understand the things you need to be cautious about.

  • Make sure your horse is familiar with bicycles, pedestrians, and other traffic you might encounter.
  • Don’t litter.
  • Always wear safety footwear and helmet.
  • Walk carefully around bends, corners, and when crossing trail junctions.
  • Don’t gallop, lope, or canter unless you can see a clear trail ahead.
  • If you go out in the dark or very early in the morning, ride on familiar trails.
  • Road traffic and horses don’t relate. But if there’s a need to ride your horse along a roadside, be careful.

Advanced Skills

The following horseback riding lessons go past the basics. Know how to dismount on emergencies and jump off under a knowledgeable instructor’s supervision. Always put on a helmet and safety stirrups or appropriate boots. Also, consider wearing a mouth-guard and a chest protector.

Rein-Back or Backing Up

If you need to maneuver from a tight situation (like suddenly discovering a large ditch ahead), you’ll need backing up or rein-back (where your horse moves its weight to its hindquarters).

Ride Bareback

This involves riding on horse’s bareback without using a saddle. This skill can be fun and warmer during winter.

How to Jump Off

Dismounting on emergencies and falling the proper way may be the best thing to do whenever your horse bucks, bolts, or misbehaves, though there’s no perfect way to prevent injury and accidents when riding a horse.

How to Perform Emergency Dismounting

Place your hands on the horse’s neck, with your weight on it, lift your left leg (if you’re dismounting to the right) across the horse’s back, and push away with your hands. Make sure to land with your legs (on a safe spot).

Take Care of Your Horse After Riding

You know an excellent horseperson by how they take care of their horse even after it’s done its job. Your horse should be comfortable; don’t make it feel like it’s all work without play. Here’s what you can do to reward your horse after riding.


Since we’ve got to do other things besides riding, we need to get off their backs sometimes. After riding, the first step to take is to dismount from your horse correctly.

Take Good Care of Your Horse

A good horseperson doesn’t only ride his horse well, but also cares for it. During your lessons, you’ll learn how to cool a horse and even groom it after riding.

Reward Your Horse with a Safe Treat

Reward your equine companion for a job done correctly, even in the horse stable, but make sure to do it safely. You can give your horse a good hug, offer them water, and take them grazing.

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