What Are Horse Riders Called

What Are Horse Riders Called?

Surely a horse rider is just called a horse rider? Or is it… The equestrian world is filled with a diverse range of horse riders. That is why there are different names to describe horse riders in various disciplines. If you are new to the horse world, the different terms can be confusing, and you may need some clarification of the terms.

From novices to advanced riders, some people ride horses competitively, others for pleasure. Riding styles and gender can sometimes affect the terminology used. There are sometimes different terms for male horse riders and female horse riders, such as horseman and horsewoman.

What is a horse rider called in different disciplines or geographic locations? Let’s delve deeper into the naming conventions to help you avoid any confusion.

What Are Horse Riding Disciplines?

It’s important to know what “disciplines” are in horseback riding to understand some of the names that a person who rides horses is called and their application.

A horse-riding discipline refers to a specialised area of horsemanship. Disciplines use specific skillsets and techniques, equipment, and goals. Riders within different categories may have specific names according to their specialised discipline.

General Names For Horse Riders

  • Rider, horse rider, horseback rider: A rider is anyone who rides on an animal, whereas a horse rider refers specifically to riding horses.
  • Equestrians: This is the general term for people who ride horses. It’s gender-neutral and covers most disciplines. Anyone who rides horses or competes in equestrian sports is an equestrian. The term comes from the Latin terms “equus” (horse) and “equester “(horsemanship).
  • Horseman, horsewoman: A horseman, or horsewoman, is an experienced and skilled horse rider. Each term is gender-specific and cannot be used interchangeably.
  • Bareback riders: Anyone who rides without a saddle rides bareback. If you have ever been to a circus, you have possibly seen this form of freestyle riding.

Specific Types Of Horse Riders

English disciplines and styles

For easy reference, these events are divided into Olympic and non-Olympic events.

Olympic events

  • Dressage rider: A dressage rider competes in dressage competitions. They focus on controlled movements and communication between the horse and rider. There are multiple levels and various tests at each level. Dressage requires highly dedicated training.
  • Event riders: Event riders, also known as eventers, participate in eventing, in which riders compete in a triathlon. The three events are dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Riders need to be well-versed in all three disciplines to compete.
  • Show jumper: A horse rider who competes in show jumping. The event is usually timed, and the rider jumps over various obstacles on a course.

Non-Olympic events

  • Saddle-seat rider: Saddle-seat riding is a style of horse riding where the rider sits quite far back and their hands are held higher than with other styles of horse riding.
  • Side saddle rider: A side saddle rider rides with both legs on one side of the horse.
  • Hunter jumper: Hunter jumping is a combination of hunting and show jumping.
  • Hack rider: A hack rider is a recreational rider who rides for pleasure, leisure, and enjoyment.
  • Equitation rider: An equitation rider focuses on specific skills such as balance, position, and communication with the horse.
  • Vaulter: A vaulter performs gymnastics on horseback. This is not the same as trick riding, as it’s literally gymnastics on a moving horse.

Western disciplines and styles

  • Barrel racer: Barrel racing is a Western discipline that is also known as barrel bending. A barrel racer races around barrels in a cloverleaf pattern.
  • Trail rider: Trail riding is something that recreational riders do for pleasure. Riders will ride over trails and explore hills, valleys, forests, or wherever the trail takes them. Trail riding is not a discipline, but it’s highly popular, especially for vacationers looking for a fun experience.
  • Reiner: A reiner is a horseback rider who focuses specifically on reining control.


Rodeo has a whole category to itself. Even though rodeos are primarily associated with bull riding, there are a few different types of horse riders within this Western discipline. During the rodeo, you can see bronc riding, calf roping, and team roping.

  • Bronc rider: Bronc riding horses are wild horses. They are untamed, and the bareback rider mounts and rides a bucking horse for as long as they possibly can. Also similar is the broncobuster, the difference being that a broncobuster focuses more on subduing the broncho.
  • Chute buster: Chute busters compete in chute-mounted bronc riding. The rider is mounted in the chute, and when the chute gate is opened, they are released on their bucking horse into the arena.
  • Pickup rider: A pickup rider ensures bareback riders dismount safely from their bucking horses.
  • Calf roper and team ropers: A calf roper ropes a calf from horseback. Two riders within the roping team work together to rope a calf. One is called a header, and the other is a heeler. The rider ropes a calf from its head and its heels, which is where the names originate.
  • Trick rider: A trick rider performs tricks on horseback. These tricks can include things like standing, hanging, and falling from a horse while at high speeds.
  • Trick roper: The horse rider who performs tricks with a rope on horseback is called a trick roper. They perform for entertainment purposes, and they are hugely fun to watch.


  • Rancher: A rancher rides horses on a cattle ranch.
  • Cowboy or cowgirl: Cowboys (and girls) are not just from movies. They often work on ranches.
  • Buckaroo: A buckaroo is another name for a cowboy or ranch hand.
  • Cowpoke: This is another term for a cowboy, which probably originates from the fact that cattle are poked and prodded as they are herded.


  • Endurance rider: An endurance rider competes in horseback riding over a long distance through various terrains and sometimes even harsh weather. The race tests both the horse and rider for stamina, strength, and endurance.
  • Jockey: A jockey is a professional horseback rider who is hired to compete in horse races. Jockeys are often associated with racing on a flat race track, but steeplechasers can also be jockeys.
  • Catch rider: A catch rider is a jockey who is hired for single races, sometimes on short notice.
  • Steeplechaser: A steeplechaser competes in horse racing across the countryside. The horses jump over fences and ditches, which requires a lot of endurance.

Horse riders in equestrian sports

  • Polo player: Polo players play polo on horseback. Polo is a team sport, with four players per team.
  • Fox hunters: Fox hunting is a sport that happens on horseback. There are specific roles like huntsman, master, field, and whipper-in.

Historical, Regional, Or Military Terms For Horse Riders

  • Hussar: Historically, in central and eastern Europe, a light cavalry soldier was referred to as a hussar.
  • Cavalryman: A soldier in a mounted military unit was called a cavalryman.
  • Cavalier or knight: Historically, the name cavaliers was associated with horseback riders who were soldiers or knights.
  • Mounties: Mounties is the nickname for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who do patrols on horseback.
  • Cossack: A cossack was a semi-nomadic Russian warrior who was known for horsemanship.
  • Mounted archer: Mounted archers were warriors who shot their arrows from horseback.
  • Samurai: In feudal Japan, Samurais were the only warriors allowed into battle while riding horses.
  • Bedouin: From nomadic Arab regions, bedouins were skilled riders.
  • Cabellero: Mounted Spanish noblemen were called Cabellero.
  • Dragoon: A dragoon was part of the mounted infantry, but they could also fight afoot.
  • Gaucho: A skilled South American horseman.
  • Vaquero or vaquera: A skilled Mexican or Spanish horseman or horsewoman, specific to their gender.

Slang Terms For Horse Riders

  • Hoof hound: A person with an exuberant love for horses.
  • Horse person: A person who loves or rides horses.


What do you call a person with a love for horses?

A person with a love for equines is called a hippophile.

What is the difference between a rider and a horseperson?

A rider is a general term for a person who rides horses. A horse person is someone who is usually very connected to the horse world and who loves and rides horses.

Is there a difference between a rider and a trainer?

Yes. A trainer usually focuses on training specific skills in the horse and the rider. A rider rides and controls the horse.

Final Thoughts

Different riders have different names, and it’s important to not make the mistake of thinking that all riders are the same. If someone rides horses for fun, it does not mean that they are a jockey or steeplechaser. Additionally, knowing the difference between a trick rider and a roper is purely respectful to the equestrian world.

You don’t need to be in horse management to know all the differences, but having a general understanding is great. And when you think about it, the naming conventions are fairly simple and apt for each style and discipline.

Similar Posts