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Top 5 Beginner Horse Riding Mistakes - And How To Fix Them!

Beginner Horse Riding Mistakes


When first learning to ride a horse, there are some common mistakes that most people make at least once or twice.

This is perfectly normal, but it is important to understand what to avoid as a beginner so that you can improve as a rider over time.

Continue reading for the top 5 beginner horse riding mistakes to avoid!

5 Tensing Up Your Body

beginner horse riding mistakes

While riding, our horses listen closely to both our physical aids and signals, as well as our body language. If you are giving off tense or stressed energy, your horse will pick up on this and quickly become tense or stressed as well, as they will begin to wonder what it is that has you feeling that way. 

It is very common for new riders to tense up due to nervousness. This tensing often causes an individual to hold their breath or tense up their entire body, which makes it difficult for them to effectively communicate with their horse through their body language.

When riding, practice taking regular deep breaths; sometimes even making a point to count your breaths in and out can make a large positive difference in your tendency to hold your breath. 

If you find that you have an issue with tensing up while you ride, make a point to do deep breathing, hum or sing a tune, or even count the beats of your riding out loud.

If you can, a really good idea is to have a friend record your riding on a phone or tablet. Afterwards, take a look at the footage and take notice of the difference between the body language of both you and your horse before and after practicing your relaxing techniques while riding.

4 Incorrect Riding Posture

beginner horse riding mistakes

Slouching or hunching over when riding makes it difficult for you to see where you are going, and it can make it quite difficult for you to control your horse. 

It’s important to sit up straight but remain relaxed. Many trainers will tell their beginner rider students to imagine a line that runs from the ceiling to the top of their helmet, just ever so slightly keeping them pulled up straight to maintain correct riding posture.

This is a very helpful visualization that helps riders remember how they should be sitting in the saddle while riding.

This is also another scenario in which having a friend or your trainer tape you during your ride can be extremely helpful. It is also a good idea to think about practicing riding in a closed arena with a mirror, so that you can see your riding posture in real time. This will help you identify what it is that needs to be corrected.

3 Mixed Communication Signals To The Horse

beginner horse riding mistakes

Keep in mind that the way in which you hold and use the reins is extremely important.

Your horse’s sensitive mouth tissue can make it quite hard for them to ignore your aids, especially when you may be jerking or pulling harshly on the reins.

Your trainer will help you learn how to keep a healthy and “light” contact with your horse’s mouth that will allow you to work together as a team without any miscommunication. 

Keep in mind that the contact you keep with your horse’s mouth should just accompany your leg aids; it should not be your main source of communication with your horse.

Horseback riding is a complex activity that takes years to master; there’s absolutely no shame in making mistakes as a beginner, and when riders are informed on how they can improve, they are able to maintain a safe and enjoyable riding experience. 

2 Reins Too Loose In The Hand

beginner horse riding mistakes

This is one of the most common and frustrating beginner horse riding mistakes. 

As you ride your horse the head naturally bobs up and down. This will pull the reins through your hands, and you will end up with your hands away from the horse, with little to no control.

The answer to this problem is to have your arms relaxed and down by your sides. Then, if you imagine your arms responding to the horse head movement, the goal is to allow them to move as freely as possible as the movement occurs; so you feel it but are not restricting it.

As you learn this technique you will need to collect more rein with your hands many times to shorten the distance to the horse.

This does take practice but once mastered becomes second nature.

Squeezing The Horse's Flanks With Your Legs

beginner horse riding mistakes

Quite naturally, this mistake is one that most new horse riders do, simply out of the fear of falling off.

Clenching or squeezing either the upper or lower leg or both will technically make you feel more secure on the horse, but the horse may understand this as a signal to move.

Another problem with clenching legs is that the horse will probably feel this in a negative way if it happens a lot, and this will impair your ability to ride as the horse will become skittish due to being nervous.

The answer to this problem is to let your leg hang down the side of the horse as naturally as you can, and ensure that it remains fairly straight as you ride, not swinging backwards and forwards.

Allow your weight to flow through your leg to the bottom to maintain this position.

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