How to Ride an Ex‐Racehorse

While ex-racehorses are a wonderful find, learning to ride one can take time and effort, as your horse will be used to a fairly different riding lifestyle than the one you're now offering. It may take weeks or even months to get an ex-racehorse used to a different pace and way of riding but you will be able to do so with care and attention to the details, provided you're already a good rider.


  1. 1
    Be a confident and solid rider. A beginner rider should not be the first one riding an ex-racehorse. If you don't know how to ride, have someone more experienced train the ex-racehorse first, until it is proven calm and safe enough for a beginner rider.
  2. 2
    Begin slowly. Check to see whether your ex racer knows what an English/western saddle feels like. If it doesn't, then you'll need to get a trainer in. Alternatively, if you are experienced and confident, you can try to put the saddle on slowly:
    • Put on a saddle blanket first. Walk the horse around with this on for a time.
    • Put the saddle on if the horse is fine with this sitting on its back. Then walk it around. If the horse isn't fine with it, then keep trying to put it on over time. If the horse gets fidgety, take it off and put it back on later. Talk gently to the horse each time.
    • Do up the girth. Don't make it tight thought and undo it if the horse gets upset. Do it up once the horse is happy walk it around again.
    • Keep doing the girth up and walking the horse around. If the horse starts getting fidgety, take the girth down a hole and walk around, then do it a hole up once the horse is used to the prior hole level.
  3. 3
    Attempt a ride. Once you have got the saddle on with success and you're confident that the ex-racer is okay with it, try to hop on. If the horse is fine with this, then ask a friend to walk you around.
    • If the horse isn't fine, then hop off walk it around before attempting to hop back on.
  4. 4
    Walk around calmly once the horse accepts you on its back. If it gets upset, take a step back.
  5. 5
    Add in some rein work once your horse is responsive. Try trotting, do some figure eights or something similar. Make sure that you can slow to a walk easily. Try cantering as well. Teach your horse things like leg yielding and even fancy dressage moves. If your horse is good at control, then it is possible that you can ride jumps too.


  • Always wear a helmet.
  • If jumping, wear a body protector.
  • Do basics to such as lunging.


  • Ex-racehorses have more energy; they always want to go, go, go, so you must be a good (and confident) rider.

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Categories: Horse Showing and Competition