11 Beginner Horse Riding Tips [2023]: Learn To Ride A Horse

1. Get the right horse riding gear.

When starting horse riding, you’ll need a helmet, boots, and gloves and a pair of close fitting trousers.

Riding horses requires a combination of proper technique and the right gear to ensure safety and comfort for both the rider and the horse.

Riding Helmet

Among the most important pieces of gear are a riding helmet, boots, and gloves. A riding helmet is crucial for protecting the rider’s head in case of a fall or accident. It should fit snugly and be certified to the required safety standards. You can read about those by clicking here.

Riding Boots

Riding boots are also important for both safety and comfort. They should have a heel to prevent the foot from slipping through the stirrup, and they should also be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.


Gloves are also important for protecting the rider’s hands and fingers while also providing a good grip on the reins. They should be made of durable materials and fit well to ensure the rider has full control over the horse. In summary, a helmet, boots, and gloves are essential for horse riding, providing both protection and control.

Learn how to fit your riding hat by clicking here

Horse riding gloves and boots

A good pair of gloves and boots are essential, as well as a hat which meets the required safety standards

2. Choose the right horse.

Not all horses are suitable for beginners. Look for a calm and gentle horse that is easy to control.

What is the best horse for a beginner?

The best horses for beginners are:

  • Older

  • Well schooled

  • Not stubborn

  • Docile breed such as Clydesdale, Fjord or Cob

  • Not too sensitive

  • More slow than go

Older, well schooled horses give you confidence

When you start riding, you should ride a suitable horse with a calm temperament. This is the most important thing.  Riding is 90% about confidence and a calm experienced horse will give you the confidence you need.

Horses sense stress

A horse will pick up on your mood and the more agitated you are, the more agitated the horse will become. It’s important to find a horse which will walk and trot when you ask it to.  You don’t want one which is really stubborn or you won’t have a good experience. You will become frustrated and that frustration can stress the horse.

Beginner horses are best to be “Confidence givers”

They should be “More slow than go”  but they do have to go a little… a horse that is too stubborn and wont move will just lead to frustration.

It’s also important to find a horse that is not too sensitive. A well-schooled horse reacts to many signals from the rider, from having the right contact with the reins, to giving the correct signals with your legs.

Over-senstive horses will make you lose confidence

A horse which is very sensitive will make you lose confidence very quickly.  As a beginner, you will be making small mistakes with your leg, how you sit in the saddle and how you hold the reins.  A very sensitive horse will take these as signals to perform an action, and if you aren’t ready for it, it can give you a surprise and make you lose confidence.

Older horses tend to be better for beginners as they have “been there and done it” so they don’t spook or overreact to the wrong signals.  They have been on their horse riding journey, and can help you on yours.

Cold blooded horses make the best beginners horses

The best breeds for beginners tend to be the “Cold Bloods” so named for their temperaments.  Cobs, Clydesdales, Fjords or crosses with these breeds tend to have calmer nature.  That’s not to say an Arab or Thoroughbred can’t be docile, its just more common in the native breeds.

Horse riding lessons are a good idea. Going to a licensed riding school is a good place to start.

Click here to find out how much lessons cost here with our handy guide

Happy horse

A happy friendly horse is best for beginners

3. Make friends with your horse before you ride.

Say hello to your horse!  If you feel nervous, introduce yourself and give them a scratch behind the ear to make friends with them. Take a few minutes to walk your horse around the arena to let them get used to you.

Woman making friends with a horse

Say hello to your horse 🙂

4. Learn how to mount your horse correctly.

The most important thing for a rider to remember the first few times you ride is don’t try to mount the horse without you instructors help.

You will see from the list below that there are lots of little steps you have to get right in order to mount your horse. If you get any of these things wrong, you could end up slipping off, or worse being dragged around the arena!

It’s a LOT to remember which is why it’s so important to get your instructor to help

1. Check that the girth is sufficiently tight before mounting

This is imperative, and you need your instructors guidance for this. The girth will be loose when the horse is tacked up, and at this stage of your riding career, you will need the instructor to tell you how tight it should be

2. Use a mounting block instead of mounting from the floor

This may seem unnecessary, you might think you are flexible enough, strong enough and big enough to mount from the floor. However this is as much for the horse as it is for you. Pulling on the saddle, and pushing down on one stirrup can hurt your horse when the saddle twists. Repeatedly doing this can also damage the saddle.

3. Run your stirrups down

You will have to estimate the length you need, but don’t worry you can adjust them once you are on the horse. Don’t let go of the reins while you do this, or your horse will be off!

4. Prepare to mount the horse from the left side

5. Walk up the mounting block

6. Hold the reins in the left hand and place the left hand on the pommel of the saddle

7. Turn the stirrup clockwise and place the left foot in it

8. Mount the horse

With your left foot in the stirrup and your right foot on the mounting block, look through the horses ears and push off the block with your right foot and try to spread your weight evenly between your left foot and the pommel so the saddle doesn’t rotate. Swing your the right leg over the horse. Be careful not to kick the horse while mounting!

9. Gently lower your self into the saddle

10. Turn the right stirrup clockwise and place your foot in it

11. Sit up and take hold of the reins in the right hand.

12. Ask your instructor to help you adjust your stirrups

Loose girth will make you fall off

Tighten up your Girth!

5. Learn the Basics

Before getting on a horse, it is essential for any rider familiarize themselves with the basics of riding. Horse riding lessons really help with this. This includes learning how to properly mount and dismount the horse, as well as how to hold the reins.

Learn how to tell a horse to “walk,” “trot,” and “stop.”

The basic commands are “walk,” “trot,” and “stop.” These skills are important for ensuring a safe and enjoyable ride, both for the rider and the horse. By mastering these basics in a lesson, you will be better able to communicate with your horse, control its movements, and avoid any potential accidents.

Additionally, it will help you to build a better relationship with your horse and enjoy the riding experience more. It’s important to take the time to learn these basics properly when you have a lesson.

Communicating with your horse

To signal a horse to walk, you would typically use a combination of verbal cues and physical cues. The verbal cue for a horse to walk is to say “walk on” or simply “walk”. The physical cue is to gently squeeze your legs against the horse’s sides, near the girth area and release the pressure on the reins. This pressure on the horse’s sides tells the horse to move forward.

You should also give a slight forward movement of the reins to encourage the horse to move forward. It’s important to keep in mind that you should use gentle and consistent cues to avoid confusing the horse.

Be very gentle on the horse’s mouth. The horse’s mouth must not be pulled on too hard when riding normally. You should only be strong on the reins in a emergency.

Horse at School

Start by learning the basics with your horse

6. Hold the reins correctly.

Don’t let go of them in case your horse goes walkabout! Take hold of the reins with both hands, keeping your thumbs up and your fingers curled around them.  Imagine you are holding two steaming hot mugs of tea. In your riding lessons, you will learn lots of handy ways to remember all the tips and tricks

When trotting, the reins should be held in a slightly different position. The rider will still have a contact on the reins, but will also use their hands in a more active way to help the horse maintain a steady, rhythmic trot. The rider will also rise slightly out of the saddle on the rising trot. This helps the rider to absorb the horse’s movement and maintain their balance. This position is more active than the walk position and it’s important that the rider is balanced and in control of the horse’s movement.

Ride like you are holding two mugs of tea

Ride like you are holding two mugs of tea

7. Don’t Forget to Warm Up

Just like any other physical activity, riding a horse can be strenuous on your muscles and joints. That’s why it’s important to warm up both yourself and your horse before riding. Having a good stretch and a walk around the arena will do the trick.

Here are some warm-up stretches that can be helpful to do before horse riding:

  1. Neck stretches: To stretch the muscles in your neck, gently tilt your head to the left and right, and then tilt it forward and backward. You can also rotate your head in a circular motion.

  2. Shoulder stretches: To stretch your shoulders, interlace your fingers behind your back and lift your arms up and away from your body. You can also do some arm circles to help loosen up your shoulders.

  3. Back stretches: To stretch your back, gently bend forward and try to touch your toes. You can also do a backbend by lying on your back and lifting your head and shoulders off the ground.

  4. Hip stretches: To stretch your hips, do a lunge by stepping forward with one foot and bending the front knee while keeping the back leg straight. You can also do a butterfly stretch by sitting on the ground and bringing the soles of your feet together, pressing them against the ground and gently pulling your heels towards your body.

  5. Ankle stretches: To stretch your ankles, stand facing a wall and place one foot behind the other. Lean into the wall, keeping your back leg straight and your front knee bent.

It’s important to do these stretches slowly and gently, and to never push yourself to the point of pain. Remember to breathe deeply and take your time, stretching your muscles to the point of mild tension, and hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds. After you finish your stretches, it’s also a good idea to do some light cardio exercises to get your blood flowing and your muscles warmed up.

Horse doing yoga

Always stretch before riding

8. Start Slow

Once you’re on the horse, it’s important to start slow and let the horse get used to you. Begin by walking around the arena or field at a slow pace before moving on to a trot. If at any point either you or the horse feels uncomfortable, stop and take a break.

Stop for a break from horse riding

Have a break when you need one

9. Learn Rising trot

If you aren’t riding western style, you will need to learn the rising trot. Western style riding is a different discipline with differnet techniques and equipment. In English riding, the rising trot is essential. To start, gently squeeze your legs against the horse’s sides and sit up straight in the saddle. As the horse begins to trot, rise up out of the saddle slightly and then sink back down into it as their hooves hit the ground. Repeat this motion in time with their strides.

Rising trot

Rising trot is the next step after walking

10. Be Consistent With Your Training

If you want to improve your skills as a rider, it’s important to be consistent with your training. This means setting aside time each week to practice riding, whether it’s in an arena or out on trails. The more frequently you ride, the better you’ll become at it. Private lessons can help with this. Using the same riding instructor also helps.

By using the same riding instructor for your riding lessons, they will be able to monitor your progress and keep you improving. After a while, it can be a good idea to try a different riding instructor as they can see other things which need work.

Be consistent with your horse riding training

Consistency is key

11. Cool Down After Riding

After you’ve finished riding, it’s just as important to cool down both yourself and your horse. This helps prevent injuries and allows your muscles to recover from the workout they just had. Once again, a simple walk around the arena will do the trick.

Cool horse

Be cool… Cooling down after riding is very important for you and your horse


Horse riding is a fantastic, fun way to experience the beauty and freedom of nature, as well as to bond with an animal that has its own personality. It’s also a great way to stay active and healthy, both physically and mentally. But, for beginners, it can be daunting to know where to start. In this article, we have provided some beginner horse riding tips, to help you start your journey with confidence and ease.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that horse riding is not just about sitting on the horse’s back and being taken for a ride. It’s a skill that requires proper technique, training, and practice. Before you even think about getting on a horse, it’s crucial that you learn the basics of riding, including how to mount and dismount, how to hold the reins, and how to give basic commands.

It’s also important to find the right horse and equipment. When choosing a horse, consider its size, age, temperament, and level of training. The right horse will be one that is comfortable and manageable for you, and that will help you to learn and progress in your riding.

When it comes to equipment, it’s essential to have the right gear, including a properly fitted helmet, riding boots and gloves. This will not only help to protect you in case of an accident, but also make you feel more comfortable and confident when riding.

Finally, one of the most important aspects is to find the right instructor or coach. A good instructor will be able to teach you the proper techniques and give you the confidence you need to progress in this amazing sport. They should also make sure you have fun!

If you have more questions about Beginner Horse Riding, you might find the answers by clicking here on our Beginner Horse Riding FAQs

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