How to Teach Someone to Ride a Horse

Teaching someone to ride is an incredibly rewarding task. If you can ride well and have a good knowledge of horsemanship, all you need is a keen student!


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    Find your student. Your student can be anyone from a curious friend to a failing rider at your stable. Don't be shy; they'll appreciate help! However, don't pester people who don't want to ride. If you do this, you'll only annoy them.
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    Observe or participate in lessons by many different teachers. After the lesson, you can chat with the teacher - (s)he probably won't mind sharing a few tips!
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    Put emphasis on safety! Require your student to always wear an appropriate riding helmet, and teach basic horse safety before starting on riding. Remember to choose a slow, sane horse for a beginner - even if your student loves him, your ex-racehorse Thoroughbred is hardly a good fit!
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    Start by teaching your student the basics. Show him/her how to groom, lead, and tack up a horse. Include information on horses' history, breeds, and behavior; the names and purposes of tack; appropriate clothing for riding; and various other basic information.
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    Continue on to riding! Always begin by teaching your student how to safely mount and dismount and how to stop before teaching him/her how to ride. It's best that on your student's first tries you put a halter over the horse's bridle and lead him to give the student a sense of security while (s)he learns how to walk, trot, whoa, turn around, etc. Remember, however, to push your student towards riding independently once the basics are covered - don't allow comforting actions such as holding onto the horse's mane or riding while the horse is being led by another person to become habits.
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    Consider riding a horse yourself while you teach. Though this isn't advisable on the first lessons, and on other occasions on which you might need to lead the horse, it can be helpful while teaching correct posture, rein grip, etc. Whenever riding while teaching, make sure to ride a quiet horse that won't spook and alarm your student's horse.
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    Teach fun exercises! Exercises such as "Around the World" and riding without stirrups are fun for the student and can help improve his/her riding. Whenever your student is doing exercises like these, however, it's important to keep the horse under control by attaching him to a lunge line, or putting a halter over his bridle and leading him. If your student has an issue you want to address or there's a skill you want to teach him, you can even make up your own exercises.
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    Give plenty of praise and encouragement! Your student will enjoy the lessons more, and praising your student when (s)he does something right is much more effective than criticizing him when (s)he does something wrong. For more on teaching using praise, read Karen Pryor's book Don't Shoot the Dog.
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    Have fun teaching! An upbeat teacher enjoying him/herself is going to be much more successful with teaching than a grouchy one. Just have fun teaching, interacting with horses, and feeling the sense of accomplishment you gain when you watch your student proudly riding!


  • Encourage the student to spend as much time around horses as possible so they can learn other important skills such as stable management, and how to control a horse from the ground.
  • Planning lessons in advance is helpful, but have a plan in place for an emergency (upset rider, bolting horse, etc).
  • Include some variety! You don't want to do the same boring old thing every time - you could teach your student how to bathe a horse on a hot day, or have a egg-and-spoon race if your student is a kid.


  • Always speak with the parents of the child if teaching one to check that the child is taking lessons with the permission and full knowledge of the parents.
  • If you're not a qualified riding instructor, always inform your student!
  • Check with your insurance whether your student will be covered; and ensure that you won't be held responsible for any injuries.

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Categories: Horses | Riding