How to Boost Your Confidence when Horse Riding

If you need to boost your confidence when starting to horse ride or are already a rider, then this how-to is for you.


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    Choose a horse that is very quiet to ride and handle.
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    If you take lessons, inform the instructor that you don't have a lot of confidence with horses yet, and you would like to start out on a very calm horse. DO NOT stay quiet or agree to take an ornery horse just because you don't want to look bad.
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    Spend time with the horse. Pet him, brush him and give him a bath. Do all the tack work yourself, or as much as possible if you are a beginner.
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    Learn about the signals your horse gives you.
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    Read up on horse riding with a good book. Especially focus on how to properly ride and how to read a horses' body language.
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    Get someone else (preferably the owner) to ride the horse in a walk, trot, canter and maybe even go over a small jump. Notice that although the owner may be more experienced than you, he can still handle the horse very well, and the horse will handle just as well for you if you don't get excited or rush him.
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    When you first get on, spend time finding a good seat and getting into position. Don't worry about getting out and riding quickly - be comfortable. If you notice anything odd, such as a crooked saddle or the reins look wrong, quickly get down and fix them .
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    Walk the horse first. This is important for you, so you can get yourself together, and the horse, because it warms him up so he doesn't pull a muscle. This is also a good time to find any problems with the tack, such as a bit that isn't working right.
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    Go slowly. If your teacher wants you to move on, say that you don't feel comfortable yet. Your teacher knows what he/she is doing, and if he says he/she is confident you can do it, trust him/her.
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    Ride as often as you can.
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    LEARN HOW TO FALL. DO NOT throw out an arm (you will probably break it), and move away from the horse as quickly as possible. Also, you can try to do an emergency dismount.
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    If you have taken a bad fall, or something happens to make you really afraid of horses, think back to everything before that. One bad fall after a year of riding is only one small event after a lot of hours on a horse. The chances that it will happen again are very small.


  • If a horse "crow-hops" or tries to buck, LEAN BACK. If he rears, lean forward.
  • Always focus on the positive things you did in a riding session for example; good upward transitions, my lower leg position was good etc. inexperienced or novice riders commonly focus on the negative things that happened, you need to try to change your mind set and make it more positive.
  • Unless you are actually injured, never stop riding if you fall. If you do not get back on the horse; you are teaching yourself that falling is a bigger deal then it really is and the horse will learn that throwing you off is a good way to get rid of you.
  • Every time you ride, practice something you aren't good at. For example, I am terrible at jumping (after 2 years of riding). I spent all last week jumping, and I'm beginning to improve. Last week was also the first time ever I fell off a horse, but I got right back on and kept jumping for another half hour or so.
  • Mount your horse with an open mind - don't think about what could go wrong, think about what WILL go right!
  • Don't be afraid of sharing your thoughts towards an activity. If you can tell your instructor WHY you feel uncomfortable, you will feel much better, and you will solve your problems easier.
  • If you're a beginner, after something big like your first canter, remember to take a long deep breath and go back to sitting deep in the saddle. Make sure you're going with the horse's movements; that way, if he canters off, you go with him. Relax, this is something that comes in handy which is why after a jump or a canter you should take a long deep breath, then concentrate on moving the same way as your horse.
  • If a horse is being badly behaved, try to find a reason why they are acting like this, it could be that the rider isn't giving the correct aids or that the horse is in pain. For example if a horse bucks or rears or displays other bad habits, it could be due to a problem with tack, and it is advisable if a horse shows continual bad behaviour, to get the horses back and teeth etc. checked, it can also be due to hormones for example an in season mare may behave differently than normal and be more sensitive or should never punish a horse for not doing what you ask just make alterations to your riding and ask again, if the horse still doesn't respond then back up your aid with a crop to get the horse listening, it's not a form of punishment and shouldn't be used in anger, as this won't enhance your confidence.
    • Always concentrate on riding properly. Keeping your heels down and your head up really does help with balance.
  • Make sure you stay calm because the horse can sense your mood so if your nervous then your horse might sense that and start crab stepping or even throw you off would could be very dangerous but don't forget to get back on the horse.
  • Take things slowly.
  • Ask for a quiet or older horse then when you start gaining confidence move onto a more spirited horse.
  • Find something you are good at, like trail obstacles or galloping, and always finish up with that.
  • Always have good control of your horse. Make sure the reins are a good length and your seat is right.
  • Analyze your situation. Be honest with your riding ability.
  • Once you have done something for the first time, it will be a lot easier the next time you do it.
  • Stay committed, if a horse refuses a jump, stop it as soon as you can and make it stand in front of the jump- maybe it hadn't seen it or something behind it spooked it? Then try again, but remember when jumping, sit back in your before jumping seat so when you jump, you can bend into your jumping position, also, if the horse does duck out, you've already sat back so won't get thrown forward as far and can stay seated more easily. Keep trying the jump, then after 4-5 tries, lower it at one side - the horse will jump the lower side, but try to get it in the middle, it'll think it's jumping lower, but in fact it's jumping the same height as before. This will also boost your confidence enough to put the jump back properly and then you can try again. Keep your legs on and never think it's going to dodge and out and give up, otherwise the horse will keep doing it and it will get away with it so it'll be harder to jump that jump.
  • A good way to boost your confidence when riding is when you ride find a good trustworthy horse just so you can practice emergency dismounts, trotting,cantering, jumping and all those of those horsey sport things. This way you will learn how to bond with your horse and how a horse can bond with you. Always make sure you and your horse get to know each other first just so you and the horse aren't nervous around each other. Relax in the horse and that makes your horse relaxed and you will have no problems but is you act tense an tight in the horse it can sense it and will be spooky and It will get stirred up and you will not enjoy riding. A spooky horse will not boost your confidence so don't make it be that way just relax.
  • Believe in your instructor, if you don't think you can do it well she/he does or she wouldn't have said it in the first place.
  • Believe you can do it, keep saying in your head, I can do it, I can do it, it really helps.
  • If you only ride Western, try English, and vice versa. You may feel more comfortable in one or the other.
  • Keep calm in the saddle and focus on the lesson ahead of you and just have fun♡.
  • Never let one bad experience put off riding for life, everyone falls of at some point!
  • Don't scare, prank, or bully other riders, the horse(s), or the instructor for any reason.
  • Be kind when using a bridle with a bit and don't pull the reins. To stop just squeeze because if you pull the reins, it can really hurt your horse.
  • Don't be worried about the lesson of you have had a incident or fall in the past, keep calm think positive and keep a open mind, take deep breaths and calm down.
  • If you have trouble doing rise trot, don't just do sit trot. Hold onto the mane with one hand and reins with the other. This will help you with your balance and you can still control the horse.
  • If your horse bucks sit on your butt and tell him firmly no. If your horse bolts try to circle him and when he /she tries to stop keep he or her going. I know it's hard but try thinking positive when riding.


  • Never become frustrated with the horse. If he is well-trained, it is probably YOU that is messing up, rather than him.
  • Always wear a helmet and boots when riding a horse.
  • If you lie about your true feelings towards a riding activity, you will be the one to suffer, and your fears will be harder to solve.
  • Never ride alone.

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Categories: Riding