wikiHow to Prepare to Ride a Horse

Two Methods:Before You RideAfter you ride

It takes a long time to get ready even for an afternoon ride at the barn. The horse has to be well groomed so as to be ready to be mounted. Then, even when your ride is done, you are not done, because the horse still needs more care. Here are the steps you will need to take each time you go riding.

Method 1
Before You Ride

  1. 1
    Tie the horse up and groom it.
    • If it is Spring, and the horse is shedding, first use the shedding blade and sweep it along the horse's body in the direction of the horse's hair. You will have to stop and clean the hair off of it every few seconds. Do not use this brush on the head and legs and go lightly over the bony areas. Only use this brush in the Spring.
      Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 1
  2. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 2
    Go over your horse with a rubber (not metal -- see Warnings) curry comb. Move it in small circles, removing any loose hair and dirt next to the skin. It also massages the horse's muscles. Push harder over the major muscles such as the hind quarters. Go softer over the bony areas such as the spine. NEVER use a curry comb on a horses legs, unless they have mud or dirt crusted on. On the horse's head don't use this brush at all.
  3. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 3
    Use the stiff brush. Move it in the direction of the hair in long strokes ending with a flick of the brush. This removes dust and hair that the rubber curry comb brought to the surface. Again,go gently on the bony areas. You may use this brush gently if needed on the legs. Do not use this brush on the head, as it will be too harsh.
  4. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 4
    Use the soft brush next. Go with the hair in long strokes. Use the soft brush all over the horse's body and face. This grabs all the dirt and hair that the stiff brush could not.
  5. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 5
    Pick the horse's hooves. To do this, you pick up the horse's hoof and pick the dirt, manure and stones from the sides of the frog. Do not do this if you are inexperienced at it! If you are experienced you probably know what to do. If you are not, get help from an experienced horse person several times until you know what to do.
  6. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 6
    Use a mane and tail comb to gently ease out any tangles and burs in the horse's mane and tail. Start at the bottom of the hair and slowly work up to the top. You may have to use mane and tail detangler. When doing the horse's tail do not stand directly behind the horse, as the horse cannot see you. Take the tail and pull it to the side. Stand on either side of the horse's rump as you work.
  7. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 7
    As you were grooming you would probably have noticed any swelling or cuts. But, just to make sure, stand back and look at the horse from all angles. If there is any swelling in the legs or where the saddle and bridle would be, do not ride. If there is a major cut on your horse or a cut on the horse's legs or where the saddle and bridle would be, do not ride either. If there is only a minor cut or swelling somewhere else on the horse, you can still ride, and treat the cut or swelling later.
  8. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 8
    Next, take a quick look at the horse's tack. If it is frayed or severely damaged, do not use it and ride after the horse has new tack.
  9. 9
    Tack up your horse.
    • Put the saddle pad on. Make sure the pad is in the right direction. Put it on the horse's back, covering the horse's withers completely. Then slide it back so that the front of the pad is half on the withers, half on the back. You do this to make sure the hair on the horse's back is flat so the saddle and pad are not rubbing against the horse's skin, causing a sore.
      Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 9Bullet1
    • Gently set the saddle on the horse's back. You then, if you are using an English saddle, fasten the Velcro strap on the pad onto the keepers on the saddle on both sides. Then put the keepers through the strap on the bottom on both sides. If you are using a western saddle , just put the saddle on.
      Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 9Bullet2
    • Put the girth on. You do this by fastening it to the keepers on one side.Then you go on the other side, grab the girth and fasten it to the keepers on the other side. It should be tight enough so that you can snugly fit two fingers in between the girth and the horse. Then make sure the saddle has not shifted. If you are using western tack you may just need to cinch it up.
      Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 9Bullet3
    • Put on the bridle. Do this by first, putting the reins over the horse's head, so that after you take the halter off, the horse can't run off. Then remove the halter. Stand on the left side of the horse. Hold the top piece of the bridle in your right hand. Put your right hand, holding the bridle in between the horse's ears, so that the bridle dangles over the horse's face. Then with your left hand, Insert your thumb into the corner of the horse's mouth, so that the horse opens it's mouth. Use the same hand to move the bit into the horse's mouth, while pulling up with your right hand. Then put the top of the bridle up over the horse's ears, where it rests behind the horse's ears. Then situate the bridle so that it's comfy for the horse. If the bridle is not already fitted to your horse, have an experienced horse person adjust it. Don't for get to buckle up the nose band and throat latch.The first times you do this, I would strongly recommend you ask for help. Depending how tall the horse is and how short you are, you may want to have a stool or mounting block for this.
      Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 9Bullet4
  10. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 10
    Take the reins and put them back over the horse's head. Lead the horse around for a few minuets so that the horse will release the air that it has held in, expending it's tummy. Then tighten girth so that you can just barely fit one or two fingers between the girth and the horse. You should check the girth throughout your ride and adjust it accordingly. Now mount up and ride!

Method 2
After you ride

  1. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 11
    If the horse, is hot and sweaty, loosen the girth but not so much it could slide to the horses belly, then walk it around until it is cool and dry. An easy way to check if they are cooled of is to place your hand on their chest. If it is hot, keep walking your horse. If you don't your horse could get sick.
  2. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 12
    Then, untack the horse, beginning with the bridle.Put the reins, over the horse's head. Undo the nose band and throat latch buckles,lift the top of the bridle up and hold it there for a while until you can lower it without banging the horse teeth. If the horse doesn't release the bit, stick your thumb in the corner of it's mouth. Then, put the halter on, take the reins over it's head,and tie it back up. Now, you take it's saddle off. First take off the girth and drape it over the back of the saddle. Then undo the keepers from the straps and lift the saddle off the horse's back. If you are riding English, run up your stirrups first.
  3. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 13
    Curry comb the horse where the saddle and girth was.
  4. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 14
    If your horse has a sweat stain where the saddle was, rinse your horse off with a hose. Walk your horse around until it dries. Only rinse your horse if it is warm outside. If it is cold, don't exercise your horse so much it sweats hard. When you are done riding it,don't walk it as long and put it in it's stall with a cooler on it for an hour or two instead.
  5. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 15
    If your horse worked hard, don't let it drink much. Offer it a sip of water after you are done walking it, and a sip of water after you untack it. Then with hold water for 15-20 min. depending on how hard it was worked.
  6. Image titled Prepare to Ride a Horse Step 16
    Put your horse back into it's stall or pasture.


  • Pay special attention while removing mud from lower legs in order to avoid mud fever where the mud and dirt block the pores on the lower leg.
  • When hosing off the horse use a rubber sweat scraper to remover excess water.
  • In the UK the soft brush is called the body brush and the hard brush is called the dandy brush.
  • You need to always groom your horse before riding. If you don't have time to, you don't have time for a horse.
  • It's a good idea to clean the tack after every ride, by wiping it down with a slightly damp towel. It keeps your tack in good condition and makes it last longer.
  • Only lunge your horse before riding if you really need to. Lunging puts stress on the horse's joints and should not be done often.
  • Make sure all your tack is in order and that your horse/pony is ready.
  • Always check your riding helmet is safe and secure before riding, and use a correctly fitted body protector if you are jumping to prevent major injuries in the case of falling off. Gloves are always a good idea as well, as they prevent blisters and help you grip the reigns better.


  • Don't put a hot and wet horse right back into a stall unless the horse is overtired.
  • Never use a shedding blade on a horse that has shed its winter fur, as this may cause injury. Only use it for its intended purpose and remove winter hair.
  • Always wear a riding helmet, it's vital, you might think you know your horse but a sudden surprise of a rabbit could make your horse shy and you could end up possibly in hospital.
  • Don't go directly behind a horse, or it may become spooked and kick you because it can't see you.
  • You don't have to own a horse to go to Pony Club, if you have a really good generous friend they could let you use their horse for Pony Club, just ask your parents!
  • When jumping, never ever wear a jumping vest and/or gloves unless advised.

Things You'll Need

  • Curry Comb
  • Body Brush
  • Horse
  • Shovel
  • Bin
  • Tack

Article Info

Categories: Riding