How to Keep Your Balance on a Galloping Horse

The gallop is quite possibly the most amazing of a horse's four basic gaits, but it can also be one of the hardest to control. Before attempting this gait, make sure you've had extensive lessons from a regulated and qualified riding instructor. The gallop is the final gait an advanced novice will master and one which, as with all things horsey, ought to be approached in a controlled environment with the constant attention of an experienced rider. Under proper supervision and instruction, follow these steps to stay put the next time you bring your horse to a gallop.


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    Get comfortable with cantering. You must be able to control your horse and feel happy in a canter before attempting to gallop.
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    Practice standing up in your stirrups at a trot or canter. Learn how to ride in the 2-point position. Lean forward and hold the horse's mane (which helps you keep your balance without using the reins for balance). Keep your seat-bones pointing down towards the saddle, your abdominal muscles pushing your lower back out so your back stays straight rather than arching inwards, and your weight in your pelvis rather than your shoulders. The rider shown in this photo has their weight in their shoulders and is therefore not really stable over their feet. Your upper body and head will remain stable while your arms and legs will be absorbing the movements of the horse. Think of someone who is skiing down moguls. If you are doing this correctly and your horse stumbles, you will sit down automatically and get deeper in the saddle rather than pitching forward towards the horse's neck.
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    Adjust the stirrups (assuming you aren't riding bareback). You want to be able to stand up in the stirrups and clear the saddle. It may be counter-intuitive, but shorter stirrups actually provide a more secure position as they encourage your heels to sink down.
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    Ride the horse at a walk or trot for at least ten minutes before you allow the horse to begin galloping. This will enable it to warm up and stretch out. Also, you will be familiarizing yourself with the horse's personality and signals.
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    Slowly pick up speed (rather than forcing the horse to go up to a gallop immediately). That way, you can continually adjust until you can keep on perfectly.
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    Stand up in your stirrups. Go into the "2-point" position.
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    Ease into a gallop. Go to a good-sized hill (it is safer to gallop uphill, as it is harder for the horse to trip) and get your horse to canter in 2-point. Once it is steady, urge your horse to go faster into a gallop.


  • Wear all safety devices you have on hand. Helmets and pads can really help if you do end up losing your balance or are bucked off.
  • Verify that the area you are using contains nothing dangerous, because it can sometimes be hard to stop the horse while it is galloping, especially if it isn't extremely well-trained. Although most horses will stop on their own before the edge of a cliff or anything like that, you don't want to take any chances.
  • Always try to ride with a buddy. If something happens to you while you are riding alone, it can take a long time for anyone to find you. Although in movies it can show a horse dragging a human back to settlement, this doesn't happen quite as often in real life.
  • Try using the same horse every time you ride, or as much as possible. By doing this, you can get used to the horse and the way it handles, and the horse can also get to be more comfortable with you as well. At the same time, don't assume all horses are the same--if you've been balancing well on one particular horse, don't presume it'll be that easy with a new one.
  • When you gallop, your horse needs to trust you. If your horse doesn't trust you, it might not feel comfortable and try to buck you off (or if they don't know you well enough). You need to bond with your horse so you have already created a rider-horse relationship before you start riding.
  • Keep on trying. If the gallop doesn't turn out the way you would like, don't be discouraged. A perfected gallop takes balance and practice. Not to mention patience.
  • As said before, ease into the gallop. This way you know your limitations. A horse may be able to gallop for a long amount of time, but you must be sure you're prepared for this. Always remember that not only does the horse become exhausted, but the rider as well. It is just as dangerous to push yourself as it is to push the horse. You could easily lose control. Be sure to know both your limitations. This way the fun gallop around a field won't turn into a catastrophe. And remember to have fun!! Galloping is about being one with your horse.
  • Against the previous statement, do not always use the same horse, for first time riders it is good to stay with the same gentle ,well trained horse until you are good, then you should move onto tougher horses that way when you move up you can handle a wider range of horses and become a better rider. Different horses that are a bit difficult are the best trainers to make some one a better rider and a more controlled rider. This will also make you more capable of controlling horses and making it easier.
  • Never try to gallop the first time you ride a horse. Let more experience build up as galloping can be rather difficult, especially if you don't have much prior experience with horses. A gallop can very quickly become an out of control run. Make sure you're confident you can stop the horse if it loses its head.
  • Relax and stretch forward. Enjoy it or your horse won't.
  • Give your horse his head when he gallops. This means loosen the reins a little so he can stretch his neck out.


  • Remember to show respect to horses. They are much more powerful than you are.
  • Running uphill is difficult and tiresome for a horse, so don't expect it to keep it up for too long! Be aware of when the horse is getting tired.
  • Never be afraid of the horse. Horses can sense your fear and can make them nervous.
  • Never attempt to hold on by leaning forward and grabbing the horses neck. You will fall off in front of the horse and may be trampled. If your girth is tightened securely, you can also hold onto the pommel without your saddle slipping but never let go of your reins, the reins keep control of the horses shoulders and if you have control of the horses shoulders, even if the horse falls you will never fall off.
  • Be extremely careful around horses. Christopher Reeve fell off and was paralyzed until his death--this is a sport where even the best are at risk of severe injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Horse (a fit one)
  • Saddle, saddle pad, bridle, and other equipment
  • Riding clothes (padded clothing, or multiple thick layers can be good, jodhpurs, along with boots and a helmet)
  • Large open area

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