How to Ride a Horse (the Basics)

First riding lesson approaching, and you want to know at least the basics of riding? In this article the basic aids will be explained.


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    Mount your horse. This is done from the left side by putting your left foot into the stirrup and lifting your right leg over. You can also use a mounting block or a friend to help you up. Remember to always fasten the girth (a "belt" which keeps the saddle in place), otherwise the saddle may tip over. Land softly on the seat, so you won't startle or hurt the horse.
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    Adjust the stirrups. Your stirrups should be about the length of your arm. You can measure your stirrups by putting the stirrup irons basically on your armpit and making sure your hand comes close to the stirrup bars. Do this while you are dismounted.
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    Asking your horse to walk. Make a clucking sound and squeeze his sides slightly with both of your legs. The right place is just behind the girth. If he doesn't respond, you will have to squeeze a little harder.
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    Stopping the horse. It's very important to know how to stop your horse or tell him to slow down. This is done by leaning very slightly back, saying "woah",and pulling the reins. Be sure you aren't squeezing with your legs, so you don't give mixed signals.
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    Turning the horse. Your horse will turn left, when you squeeze with your right leg and slightly take your left hand to the left, to direct him. When you want to turn right, the aids are mirrored.
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    Asking your horse to trot. Trotting is easy, but you shouldn't progress into faster gaits until you're confident with your ability to control the horse. When you want the horse to trot, you simply squeeze him with both of your legs and cluck. Again, if he doesn't respond repeat your aids, but make them a little harder. You may also kick the horse with both of your legs lightly if it still doesn't respond.
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    Going rising/posting trot. There are two types of trots, the sitting trot and the rising/posting trot. Sitting trot is sitting in the saddle and absorbing the bounce of the trot, but rising trot is easier. In rising trot you go up in every second step and on every other step you sit down. Trot is naturally bouncy, so it gives you momentum to get up. You basically push yourself up with your legs and stand on the stirrups for one step. The pace of the trot is quite fast, so you will basically be going up-down-up-down and so forth.The horse's pace will let you be lifted. Just go with the flow and don't rise higher than the horse sends you.
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    Asking your horse to canter after a few lessons with an instructor. Never learn to ride a horse alone. It's dangerous, and instructors can teach you the correct way to canter. The canter is the second fastest gait of the horse, after gallop. Cantering is quite a bit faster than the trot, but some think it's easier to sit in canter than it is in the sitting trot. You should start practicing canter only when you're on a steady horse and under supervision. The aids used to ask for canter are simple, you push your outside leg backward, toward the horse's rear and keep your inside leg on the girth and use the inside rein to bend the horse to the inside keeping the outside rein firm. Then you just squeeze with both of your legs and make a kissing sound. Be sure you are on the correct lead. You can tell if you're on the right lead if the horse's inside hoof reaches farther than the outside hoof.


  • Learn how to tack and groom a horse before you ride.
  • Be patient. It takes awhile to learn and get the hang of things, but it's worth it.
  • The posting trot is also known as the rising trot.
  • The gait is a horse's pace.
  • Have an instructor when you ride! It's dangerous not to have an instructor.
  • Learn the parts of the horse, the parts of the tack, and even all of the gaits.
  • Be sure you at least somewhat know the horse.
  • Try to sit up straight in the saddle and keep your toes up.


  • If you're a beginner always ride under supervision, and ride only horses you know are safe and steady. Don't have bad habits such as rearing or bucking.
  • Never attempt jumping without someone watching you.
  • Use footwear with a small heel, because otherwise your foot could slip through the stirrup, and get stuck if you need to fall.
  • It's not a good idea to wear jewelry when riding, such as hanging earrings or necklaces. These can get caught to the tack if you fall. Also, shiny things can spook horses.
  • Always use a safety helmet approved the SEI, and it's a good precaution to also use a protective vest, even if you're not jumping.

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Categories: Riding