Horseback Riding Tips: Part II

By developing your riding skill and your knowledge, you can greatly enhance the pleasure and safety of horseback riding. Communication between you and your horse is one crucial aspect of riding skill. Last week we presented a post with riding tips 1-3. Below we wanted to give you tips 4 and 5:

Riding Tip #4

It is helpful to understand horse behavior and the similarities between humans and horses:

  • Horses are social animals, just like people. They act based on a peer structure is observable and identifiable.
  • Humans and horses both benefit from early nurturing experiences, which translate to an enhanced ability to learn new things.
  • Horses react to pressure. Humans under pressure react first and then think. Horses simply react.
  • Humans and horses both generally respond well to positive reinforcement. We both like stroking whether verbal or physical.
  • We both respond negatively to aggression and pain.
  • All horses and most humans have a keenly developed sense of fairness. If I step on your toe accidentally and you react by striking me, that is not fair. By understanding how the behavior of the horse is similar to that of a human, you can communicate a lot more effectively.


Riding Tip #5

Things to remember when out on the trail:

  • Keep your heels down, one of the most important things. Doing so not only makes you more stable, but it also stops your foot from getting caught in the stirrup if the horse spooks and reacts unexpectedly.
  • Keep your head and shoulders up, sit straight, and lean slightly back and forth as you move with the motion of the horse. This puts you in the most secure position for riding, and allows you to handle any unexpected movements of the horse.
  • If the sport you are engaging in requires speed (ie: games, races, etc.), it is best to choose nylon-backed stirrup leathers (for English saddles) as these can stand a lot of wear and tear and are very tough.
  • Wear riding breeches when you’re riding English. Jeans are OK for Western riding… but not such a good idea for English. Jeans make you slip extremely easily..especially on a leather saddle. Also, the seams can be very uncomfortable and not well suited to long rides.
  • Some horses are troubled by moving through water. Have a friend ride a more confident horse ahead of you to show your horse that there is nothing to be afraid of. You can also gently lead your horse through the water if it isn’t too deep. Both of these methods can help your horse to overcome his fear of water.


Spend some time studying and practicing these tips and your riding skill will improve noticably!