Horse riding tips for beginners to help you feel like a pro

  • Whether you’re thinking about learning how to ride a horse, have recently started horse riding lessons or have been riding for a while, we’ve rounded up some horse riding tips to help you out. These tips will help help you ride better and get more enjoyment out of your time in the saddle.

    Horse riding tips for beginners

    1. Get kitted out

    Wearing the right clothing for horse riding – especially a riding hat – will help keep you safe, which will in turn make you feel more confident. Specialist riding clothing is designed to make you more comfortable and secure in the saddle, so swapping your gym leggings to a pair of the best riding tights with a sticky silicone seat will offer you extra security and prevent you slipping in the saddle. Looking the part will help you feel the part – much of riding is about confidence, and feeling the part is the first step to better riding.

    2. Find a good instructor

    If you’re a beginner, find a riding school that caters for those learning to ride. The instructors at these establishments will regularly teach riders of your level and will have a wealth of experience teaching children and adults with a wide range of abilities.

    3. Watch some videos

    Spend some time browsing instructional horse riding videos on YouTube. Watching and listening to other riders learning and explaining will be great background information to take in when you’re not in a lesson where you’re more likely to get overloaded with new information. You’ll become more familiar with lots of equestrian terms you’ve not heard before, too.

    4. Ask questions

    When you are looking for horse riding tips for beginners, it’s good to ask as many questions as you need. If you’re unsure what your instructor is talking about or you can’t feel what they’re describing, ask them to explain in another way – it might be that they just need to adapt to your learning style.

    5. Get familiar with horses on the ground

    If you’re new to horses and horse riding, it’s a good idea to spend some time with them on the ground. The more time you can spend with them, the better you’ll understand them and be able to read their cues. You’ll also feel more comfortable and relaxed in their presence, which will help you relax when you’re on board, too.

    6. Be confident

    Confidence comes from trust – trusting yourself, trusting your horse and trusting your instructor. If your instructor isn’t correcting you, have confidence that you’re doing the right thing. Trust your horse – he needs to feel this to trust you in return, which will build your confidence. Trust your instructor to help you progress at the right pace.

    7. Sit up straight and keep your heels down

    Having a good position on the flat is key when it comes to horse riding – and the best place to start is sitting up straight and keeping your heels down. This will help you adopt a good position in the saddle, which will help you stay secure in the saddle and in balance with your horse.

    8. Look where you want to go

    There’s a saying often used when you’re learning to ride – “if you look at the floor, you’ll end up on the floor”. Always look where you want to go – your head is the heaviest part of your body, so is a key part of letting your horse know where you want to go and keeping you balanced.

    9. Develop a good position

    Improving your position and working towards in independent seat in each pace will raise your riding game and help you become more secure in the saddle. This will help you when it comes to maintaining a good jumping position and dealing with unexpected situations, such as spooking.

    10. Gain confidence in each skill before advancing

    Don’t run before you can walk – or, in this case, canter before you can trot. Ensure you’re sufficiently confident in each skill before you try learning a new one. A good instructor will help you navigate through learning, practising and perfecting the skills you need.

    11. Stay relaxed

    It’s easy to say and not so easy to do, but do your best to keep calm – even when you’re not. Your horse will look to you for reassurance that everything is okay and will pick up on any nerves if you have them. Roll your shoulders back if you feel yourself starting to stiffen up and focus on maintaining a good position. If you often feel nervous, read our tips for nervous riders. What horse riding tips for beginners have worked for you?

    Even the equestrian world’s biggest names look up to people, and key pieces of training advice have helped them win

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest horse riding tips for beginners news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

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