How to Ride a Horse For the First Time (Kids)

Three Methods:Tacking Up Your HorseHaving Your First Riding LessonUntacking Your Horse

You’re finally about to ride a horse for the first time. There are lots of things to remember when you ride a horse, especially about safety and technique. However, horseback riding is a fun sport that you’re lucky to do, so enjoy your time riding!

Method 1
Tacking Up Your Horse

  1. 1
    Make sure you’re dressed appropriately. When you go to the barn for your first ride or lesson, you should be dressed appropriately for handling and riding horses. Here are some things that you should remember to acquire and wear before your first trip to the barn:
    • Long pants (jeans or breeches)
    • Closed-toe shoes, such as boots with a small heel or sneakers
    • A helmet (many barns provide helmets, but you should check to make sure)[1]
    • Gloves (optional, but sometimes helpful if you have sensitive skin)
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    Get acquainted with your horse. One way to make you and your horse more comfortable with one another before you ride is petting it. Always approach your horse from the side, preferably the left side. Scratch your horse’s neck gently. Different horses like affection in different ways, but almost all horses love a good neck scratch.[2] You can also ask whoever is helping you tack up your horse for the first time (such as a barn manager, riding instructor, or the owner of the horse) if you can feed your horse a quick treat before you ride. Keep in mind, however, that it might be a good idea to wait until after you ride to reward your horse.
  3. 3
    Groom your horse. At most barns, you will have to groom your horse before you ride it. You will have to use several different brushes to take good care of your horse before and after you ride.
    • First, you curry comb your horse. Using the curry comb, brush your horse’s entire body, travelling from front to back in small circles. The curry comb is used to bring up dust and dirt out from the horse’s coat.
    • Use a hard brush next. Use the hard brush in short, firm strokes that go with your horse’s hair. Go from the front of your horse to the back of your horse. Do not use the hard brush below the horse’s knees or on its face.
    • Finally, use a soft brush. You can use the soft brush everywhere on your horse, including below its knees and on its face.
    • You should also pick your horse’s hooves with a hoof pick. Stand at your horse’s side, next to one of its hooves. You should be facing the opposite way that your horse is. Run your hand down your horse’s leg. When you get to the area below the knee and the hoof, pull gently. Your horse should recognize this nonverbal command lift up its foot, exposing the underside of its hoof. With the metal hook of your hoof pick, pick out dirt and rocks from your horse’s hoof. However, the “frog,” or the soft middle part of the hoof, is often sensitive, so be careful not to pick at that.[3]
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    Tack up your horse. Depending on whether you ride hunt seat, western, or dressage, you will have different types of saddles and bridles. If this is your first time riding, someone will help you tack up your horse. Pay close attention to how this person puts on the saddle pad, saddle, girth, and bridle, so that you can do it by yourself next time.
    • Make sure that the girth it tight enough. You should be able to put one finger between the girth and your horse, but no more than that.
  5. 5
    Learn how to lead your horse. When you lead your horse to the ring, you should be standing to the left side of it. The reins should be in your hands, not over the horse’s head. Your right hand should grip both reins near your horse’s mouth. Don’t hold them too tightly. Your left hand should hold the excess reins. Do not loops the reins around your hands.
    • When you walk forward, your horse should follow. If it resists, do not look back at the horse. Say something like “Come on,” and tug the reins lightly.

Method 2
Having Your First Riding Lesson

  1. Image titled Ride a Horse For the First Time (Kids) Step 3
    Mount your horse. Find a mounting block; it’s hard to get on a horse from the ground, especially your first time riding. Stand to the left of your horse. Put the reins over your horse’s head; hold them with your left hand and grab a chunk of mane, too. Stand facing your horse, and put your left foot in the stirrup. Stand up off of your left foot and swing your right leg around. Try not to land on the horse’s back too hard. Put your right foot in the stirrup, and take the reins in both hands.[4]get on the normal way.
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    Put your feet in the stirrups and your hands on the reins. Make sure that the balls of your feet are in the stirrups. You should put your heels down throughout your ride to provide stability and balance. You should also make sure that your reins are not twisted; they should be in a straight line from your horse’s bit into your hands.
    • Your instructor can also help you adjust your stirrups to make them longer or shorter.
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    Follow your instructor’s directions. If you are riding a horse for the first time, you should definitely have an adult with you to supervise you. Whether you’re taking a riding lesson or going for a pony ride on a friend’s horse, you should always follow the directions of your instructor.
    • Make sure that you can hear your instructor, even from across the ring.
    • Be sure to tell your instructor if you feel nervous, uncomfortable, or scared. This is normal, and your instructor can help you get over your fears.
    • When you’re done riding, you will probably be asked to walk your horse for 10-15 minutes until it cools down. When its neck is about the same as the air temperature, you can dismount.[5]

Method 3
Untacking Your Horse

  1. Image titled Ride a Horse For the First Time (Kids) Step 6
    Dismount your horse. Take both of your feet out of the stirrups, hold the reins in one hand, and swing off onto the left side of your horse. Put the reins over your horse’s head so that you’re holding them again, and roll up your stirrups and loosen your girth.[6]
  2. 2
    Groom your horse. When you untack your horse, you should first take off all the horse’s tack and put it to the side. Then, repeat the same grooming steps that you completed while you were tacking up your horse. If your horse is sweaty, you might need to rinse it off with a hose in an outdoor “wash stall.” You could also sponge off its back with a large wet sponge.
    • However, since it is your first time riding, you should listen to what your instructor says. Different barns have different rules for taking care of their horses, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  3. 3
    Clean and put away your horse’s tack. Cleaning your horse’s tack is really important, especially if you’re sharing tack with other students or borrowing someone else’s tack. Put your saddle on a saddle rack, and hang your bridle up somewhere where you can easily clean it.
    • Find some saddle soap, a sponge, and a bucket of water.
    • Rub the sponge on the saddle soap. Dip it into a little bit of water (less is more). Squeeze the sponge to rid it of excess water.
    • Clean the leather parts of the saddle and bridle with the sponge. You should get all the dust and dirt off of your tack.
    • Clean your horse’s bit (the part that goes in his mouth) with water. Scrub it with a wet toothbrush to clean off all the grass and debris that was in your horse’s mouth.
  4. 4
    Praise your horse. Give your horse a carrot, an apple, or a horse treat. Make sure to give it to the horse with your palm flat so that it doesn’t nibble your fingers by mistake. Pet him again, especially if you had a good ride!
    • Your instructor will help you lead your horse either back to its stall or to the pasture where it lives.


  • Keep your heels down while you’re riding!
  • If you are small or afraid of heights, you may want to ride a pony instead of a horse.
  • Spend some time with the horse first so you know you can trust it (and it knows it can trust you!).


  • When petting the horse, make sure you stand to the side of it and not right in front of it. If you stand directly in front of it, the horse cannot see what is in front of it and may spook.
  • Do not scream or make sudden movements near the horse. Even a very well trained horse may spook.

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Categories: Riding