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Is Horse Riding Hard To Learn? Tips To Get You Started

Last updated: March 23, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

You find yourself watching young riders at an equestrian facility. A sense of excitement and nervousness wash over you as you contemplate – learning to ride a horse. You’ve always dreamed of participating in equestrian events. But you can’t help but wonder – is horse riding really as hard to learn?

Horse riding can be challenging to learn, but anyone can become proficient at it with the right mindset and determination. It may take time and practice to develop the necessary skills and confidence, but the rewards of horseback riding are worth the effort.

Where do you begin, and what should you know before starting on your journey? Like any sport or hobby, there are best practices and specific requirements. These will ensure your safety and that of your horse. So, let’s find out more about them and how to get started.

Getting started on your horse riding journey

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu

If you’re considering taking horse riding lessons but are feeling hesitant, you’re not alone. Many people worry about the difficulty of learning or feel that it’s too late to start. However, anyone can learn to ride a horse with the right mindset and determination.

Horse riding isn’t the easiest skill to learn, but it’s not the most difficult either. When learning to ride a horse, it is best to learn under the guidance of a trained instructor or skilled rider. They will teach you the best seating position and how to communicate with your horse in various ways.

The horse you learn to ride on will also determine how easy or difficult it is to learn to ride. If you’re on a feisty horse, it might make learning more difficult. A calm, accommodating horse is a much better option for beginner riders. Regular lessons will help you learn faster and develop a rapport with your horse.

Picture of a girl horse riding,

Benefits of horse riding

Horseback riding can be an activity enjoyed by people of all ages. We often ride with groups that include people from seven to seventy years old. In addition to being a fun pastime, horse riding can provide various physical and mental benefits.

For example, it can improve balance and coordination, strengthen core and leg muscles, and provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Riding a horse can also help reduce stress and improve mental clarity.

It requires concentration and decision-making, which can help improve cognitive skills and boost confidence. Overall, learning to ride a horse can be a rewarding and enriching experience that can bring joy and improve overall well-being.

Essential horse riding tips for beginners.

You’ve always dreamed of riding horses, but where do you start? With these essential horse riding tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of equestrianism.

  1. Find a reputable instructor: Look for an instructor who is certified and has experience teaching riders of all levels. They can provide you with proper guidance and ensure that you learn the correct techniques from the start.
  2. Start with basic riding skills: Focus on developing a good foundation of riding skills before moving on to more advanced techniques. This includes learning how to mount and dismount, steering and stopping the horse, and maintaining a good posture.
  3. Wear the right gear: Invest in a helmet, riding boots, and comfortable clothing that allows for freedom of movement. Proper gear will help keep you safe and comfortable while riding.
  4. Practice regularly: Consistency is key when it comes to learning to ride a horse. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become in the saddle.
  5. Stay patient: Horseback riding can sometimes be challenging, but it’s important to stay patient and not get discouraged. It may take time to build up your strength and confidence, but with practice, you will improve.
  6. Have fun: Above all, horseback riding should be enjoyable. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; remember to have fun while learning.
Picture of a person horse riding on a track.

Basics horse riding information

Before hopping on a horse and yelling “Giddy-up,” you should know a few things about horse riding. Knowing these basics can prepare you for your new venture.

What Horse Riding Entails

Maybe the most important thing to know about horse riding is that a horse is not an object. It’s a thousand-pound (or more) live animal letting you ride on it. You will work and move as a team and need to understand one another. The better you treat and respect your horse, the easier your learning experience will be.

The Basics About Your Horse

If you ride a shared horse at a riding school, your instructor will tell you more about the horse’s temperament. If you have your own horse, it will take time to discover its personality. Other things you will need to find out include the following:

  • Any special care needs,
  • The commands it is used to (clicking, whistling, command words, etc.)
  • The treats you can and shouldn’t give it,
  • How and when to groom your horse,
  • How long should you warm it up and cool it down after a ride,
  • Keeping your horse hydrated and healthy.

Knowing what goes into caring for your horse is essential to riding it. The riding school might have groomsmen to do the “dirty work,” but you should familiarize yourself anyway.

Picture of us tacking up a horse.

The Basics About Horse Tack

As a beginner rider, you will need to know the different names of the riding equipment (known as horse tack) used for caring for and riding a horse. It would be best if you also learned how to fit the tack onto your horse correctly – for your safety and your horse’s comfort.

Here is a list of the essential equipment you’ll use for “tacking up.”

  • Bit. A bit is a short metal bar that goes in the horse’s mouth. It is attached to the harness on either side of the horse’s mouth and controls the horse.
  • Bridle. A head harness for the horse onto which the reins or lead rope are attached. A bridle is also called a harness.
  • Girth. A girth, or cinch, is a broad strap around the horse’s barrel, keeping the saddle in place.
  • Reins. Reins are the long straps that are connected to the harness. The rider uses these to direct their horse.
  • Saddle blanket. A saddle blanket is a thick cloth that you place under the saddle to protect the horse’s back and extend the saddle’s life.
  • Saddle. The leather seat on which a rider sits.
  • Stirrups. Stirrups are the two metal footholds attached to the saddle, each with its own strap. These are for the rider’s feet.
  • Breastplate. A type of harness that keeps the saddle from sliding back or from side to side. A breastplate is not always necessary.
  • Hackamore. A variation of a harness that uses a noseband instead of a bit.
  • Martingale. Martingales control the amount of head movement of a horse, e.g., preventing it from rearing its head. It’s a strap that links the noseband to the breastplate.

This YouTube video explains how to tack up a horse using the English method to beginners.

YouTube video

The Basics About Your Gear

A rider’s personal gear is equally essential for their safety and comfort. If you start riding at a more advanced level and for shows, you might have to wear specific gear. However, you can wear casual riding gear and expect it to get pretty dirty. Horse riding is expensive so

The items of clothing you will need include the following:

  • Breeches. Also known as jodhpurs, breeches are tight-fitting and flexible pants with a thick weave. They have padding on the seat and on the insides of the knees. If you want to wear jeans, they should be tight-fitting and allow flexibility. Wearing baggy pants is risky as they can catch on buckles and other horse equipment.
  • Riding shirts. Ideally, riding shirts should be tight-fitting and not flap about. Since riding a horse can be a workout, wearing a riding shirt that is comfortable, stretchy, has water-wicking properties, and is breathable is ideal.
  • Riding helmet. You must wear a properly fitted riding helmet when you ride a horse. It will protect your head from excessive injury should you fall from your horse.
  • Protective vest. A protective vest is recommended for beginner riders. It offers an extra layer of protection for their ribs and shoulders in the event of a fall.
  • Riding gloves. Riding gloves protect your hands from the elements and allow you to hold the reins without being slippery.
  • Riding boots. The boots you wear for riding should have a slight heel and a bit of grip. Tall riding boots go up to your knees, or you can wear paddock boots with half chaps. Half chaps protect the inner part of your calves from rubbing and chafing against the stirrup straps.

Where Can You Buy Your Equipment?

Most tack shops will sell everything or most of the requirements for horse riding. Your riding gear should fit you well, so make sure you know the shop’s return policy if an item doesn’t work for you.

You can visit your local tack shop to view options or check out horse riding apparel online.

YouTube video

Can You Learn To Ride A Horse Properly By Yourself?

You could teach yourself to ride a horse with enough research and practice, but it is not advisable. Horses are easily spooked since they are prey animals, so it would be best if you had an experienced rider accompany you.

Additionally, teaching yourself to ride will only take you to a point. If you plan on competing in competitions, you will need the advice of an instructor to help you with finer details and learn from their experience.

How Long Should It Take To Learn To Ride A Horse?

An adult who is fit, healthy, and interested in riding a horse can learn to ride in as little as ten sessions. The lessons’ intensity, frequency, quality, and duration will affect how quickly a person learns to ride a horse.

Picture of teen girls in equine therapy program.

Can Anyone Learn How To Ride A Horse?

Learning to ride a horse has no age limit. However, beginner riders should be fit and robust enough to handle their horse and not be too overweight. Additionally, they should have the presence of mind to know how to ride a horse and what to do in various situations.

People with physical disabilities and people in wheelchairs can also learn to ride a horse. It may require extra supportive equipment and training for both the horse and the rider. Horses are used in equestrian therapy and work wonders to build muscle tone and confidence.


Horse riding is relatively easy to learn if you have the correct guidance and a horse with a good temperament. With intensive training, it can take as short as two weeks to learn to ride.

Before you start riding horses, you should familiarize yourself with the basics. These include understanding what horseback riding entails and how to protect yourself and your horse during riding. 


Is horse riding an expensive hobby?

Horse riding can be an expensive hobby because it requires purchasing or renting equipment, such as a saddle and helmet, and the cost of lessons or training. In addition, the cost of maintaining a horse, including feeding, grooming, and veterinary care, can be significant.

What does posting on a horse mean?

Posting on a horse refers to the act of rising up and down in the saddle in rhythm with the horse’s gait. This is typically done while the horse is trotting, which is a two-beat gait characterized by diagonal pairs of legs moving together.