How to Improve Your Horse Riding

Horseback riding is a sport that's both challenging and wonderfully rewarding. If you're passionate about riding and want to improve, this article will help you.


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    Learn through reading! Books can offer you tremendous insight into the techniques and methodology of riding, regardless of your experience level. If you're unsure about which books to start with, your instructor or other experienced riders may be able to recommend good books for your discipline and experience level. For the English rider, classic books like George Morris' Hunter Seat Equitation, Sally Swift's Centered Riding, or Erik Herbermann's Dressage Formula are indispensable.
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    Take lessons from a quality instructor. Lessons are essential for progression, especially if you don't have your own horse. Look for an experienced instructor with a good reputation - you can search online, or ask more experienced horse people for advice. Your instructor should always put an emphasis on learning classical technique, staying safe, and caring for your horse with respect and kindness.
    • Don't be afraid to be choosy while looking for an instructor! Look for an instructor that fits you - whether you're looking for someone to encourage and help you with confidence issues, or push you to improve in the show ring.
    • Another consideration is the quality of your instructor's barn. Look for an instructor that has a neat, organized barn with a positive attitude and good lesson horses. Remember that the quality of your lesson horse can have a substantial effect on your progress.
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    Don't rush yourself. If you're just starting out, don't expect to gallop over fences on your first day! Pushing yourself too hard is likely to give you confidence problems, not to mention leave you without good basics. Basics like your riding position, the use of the aids, and riding with balance and confidence are like the foundations of a house - good basics will set you up to succeed.
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    Learn from other riders! Try to make friends with other people at your riding stable - there's something to learn from every rider. Another great way to learn is by watching other people ride, especially if they're taking lessons. Seeing their strengths and weaknesses will give you insight into your own riding.
    • Watching videos can also be helpful. Look for instructional videos on YouTube, or watch professionals in prestigious events like the Olympics or Rolex.
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    Learn more about horses' physiological and psychological systems. Books about horse care (and veterinary books that discuss the horse's physiological system) will offer greater insight into how horses think and move. It's also important to learn about how your own body moves - books like Centered Riding and Susanne von Dietze's Balance in Movement are good resources.
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    Practice is essential. If your budget prevents you from taking lessons more frequently, try to find other ways to get in the saddle. You can offer to work in exchange for lessons, or ask friends if you can ride their horses for free or inexpensively. The best way to get more practice is to have your own horse - if you can't afford owning a horse yourself, look into leasing or co-ownership.
    • Try to ride as many different horses as you can. Like people, every horse has a different personality - some are lazy and bombproof, and some are energetic and nervous. Riding different horses will help you improve your confidence and control.
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    Stay positive. It's important to have a good attitude - how you deal with obstacles can have tremendous influence on how much you improve at riding. Every rider has days when improving seems like a hopeless goal, but it's important to keep working and stay positive. You can do it!


  • Aim for little amounts of improvement over longer periods, rather than completing an entire level in a short amount of time
  • Stay positive - you will have bad days, and good days, but the good will weigh out the bad!
  • Always have someone with you who can help - a friend, instructor, trainer etc


  • Don't overface yourself or your horse.
  • Always wear a hard hat and boots. Put safety first!
  • Never hack out alone, or attempt something new without another person present.
  • Carry a schooling whip or crop if necessary.

Article Info

Categories: Riding