How To Learn To Ride A Horse – Part 2

OK, so you’re not ready for this yet. But it sure is a nice picture!



More “Beginning Basics”



In lesson #1 on “How To Learn To Ride A Horse”,  I began to give you a list of “Beginning Basics”, and I really just focused on the proper posture, and position that you should try to maintain, while riding.  And I mentioned that this is important, because by being in the proper position, you’ll be able to maintain the proper control of your horse, at all times.  In this lesson, we’ll continue with more “beginning basics”.  But first…



A Short Review


images906TSM8NYou’ll be in a “balanced” position, sitting upright in the saddle, and will have your weight firmly in the saddle, through your butt and upper thighs.  Your hands are free to use as needed, and your legs also, will be free to be used to give “cues” to your horse, and also to aid you in your balance.  I mentioned that the ball of your foot should be in contact with the stirrup, with your heel down, and your toe slightly up.  Now I want to say something about that subject, that is VERY important.




Very Important !


imagesNW2WPWHEPlease, NEVER put your foot all the way through the stirrup, so that the stirrup is “locked” against the heel and the sole, of your boot or shoe.  If you were to have an accident with your horse, and you fell off;  It is very possible, maybe even likely, that your foot could get caught in the stirrup, and you could get dragged by the horse, if he should get spooked and run away.  I have not seen this happen, but I have friends who have, and the results are not good.







foot in stirrup 2 So, Please, do NOT ride with your foot all the way through your stirrup.  Put the toe of your boot, through the stirrup, and place the ball of your foot, ON the stirrup, with just enough pressure to hold your foot in position there.  PLEASE, don’t take this piece of advice lightly.  It could some day be the difference between simply falling off your horse, and the possibility of getting dragged, with a very poor outcome.  Remember, heel down, and toe up, and pointed straight ahead.  Resist the tendency to allow your toe to point outward.  Heel down, toe up, and pointed straight forward.  This is the proper position for riding.





Beginning Basics #2.


handsimages4KH1ZDGUNow lets talk about your hands.  The position of your hands is also very important.  There are proper ways to hold the reins, and there are improper ways of holding them.  Your hands should always be held with your thumbs at the top, and the back of your hand facing outward.



Imagine there’s a rope hanging down in front of you.  Reach out and grab hold of the rope with your hand.  You’d wrap your hand around the rope, and your thumb would be on top, right?  That’s how you should hold the reins.  The reins should come back from the bridle, and come up from the bottom, into your hand, and come out at the top, and then lay forward or to the side, just like in the pictures.


imagesBSAD1I2TI don’t want you to have the reins coming in from the top like in this picture on the left.  You will not have the subtle control that you want, if you hold the reins this way, as opposed to bringing the reins up from the bottom, and out the top of your hand, as in the pictures above.





(I realize that if you’re viewing this on a smart phone, the pictures won’t be on the right or the left.  So just look at the pictures and see which one applies to what I’m saying)


Let me show you the difference.  If you are holding the reins like in the picture on the left, how are you going to pull back slightly to put pressure on the bit?  You’re going to pull your whole arm back aren’t you?  But if you hold the reins as in the above pictures, you can simply flex your wrist downward and towards you, and you will create a little pull on the reins.  Just this slight movement with your hand and wrist, will accomplish what you want.


holding reinsIt’s such a natural movement to just flex your wrist, and create a little pull on the reins.  You’ll have a much more delicate and subtle control this way, than any other way of holding the reins.  You may want to bring the reins up between your little finger and the next finger for a little better “feel”, of the reins, and you’ll still have the same control.  (see the illustration on the right)





ReinsimagesZVN9ZE6TIn some Dressage riding, where a double set of reins is used, the manner of holding the reins becomes a bit more involved, by we surely don’t have to be concerned with this kind of stuff right now.  But I do want you to get used to holding the reins properly right from the start here, so that it becomes “second nature” to you.




For some advanced video lessons on how to hold double reins, click on the image on the right to be brought to “Equestrian Coach”.  Once you take a look around, you might just want to join.  Click here to join “Equestrian Coach”.



Beginning Basics #3.


images906TSM8NFor our third beginning pointer, let’s consider your leg position.  Your legs should hang comfortably down, without being “forced” forward or back.  Once again if you view this picture, you will see how the rider’s leg naturally hangs down so that the heel of the foot falls in line with that line drawn down from her shoulders, through the hip, and to the heel.





imagesIIXJUY6XThis is just the natural position that your leg will follow, when you sit upright on your horse.  Notice that the leg is hanging  just behind the girth of the saddle.  Your heel will be behind the girth, and your toe will be in line with the girth.  When you are in this position, you are “balanced”.  If your legs are too far forward, your upper body will be prone to lean to the back.  If your legs are too far back, your body will lean forward.  You can always “use” the position of your legs to create a little more forward or backward lean, if needed while riding.  But this “balanced” position, is the proper one to be in for starting out, and for most of your riding.




As I’ve said previously, if you are simply out pleasure riding, you will no doubt relax this position to a degree, but it will still be the most balanced position to be in even then.    Look at these pictures of me in three different riding situations, and check the leg position in each picture.




In this picture my toe is down simply because I’m just allowing my leg to hang with no saddle or stirrup. But the leg position is natural and comfortable.
Here I’m loping the horse, so I have a slight bit of forward lean to my body, but legs are straight and heels down.
Here we’re just walking slowly, so I have a very upright body position, with legs in comfortable position, heels down, toe up.


Are We Ready To Ride Now ?


So now we’ve talked about your upper body position, your hands, and your legs and feet.  Is that about it?  Well, that does cover how you’re supposed to “sit” on a horse.  But it occurs to me that all this “positioning”, is done after we’re already up on the horse’s back.  But how do you GET on the horse’s back?  Maybe you think that’s a “no brainer”.  And maybe it is.  But maybe I should just explain, the proper way to get up on your horse.


GoofyIs there a proper side of your horse to get on from?  Well, most of the time, you’re going to be told to mount from the horse’s left side.  In “English” terms, this is called the “near side”.  The right side is commonly referred to as the “off side”.  I guess that simply goes back to some early days of “horse etiquette”.  But I’m not much concerned with “horse etiquette”, so I’ll just tell it like it is, in the everyday world of horses.






Yes, the left side, is by far the most common side to mount from.  But there’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with getting on from the right side either.  As a matter of fact, I want you to purposefully, get on from both sides equally.  I want to train “you” to be able to coordinate yourself properly, so as to get on with ease from either side.  And I want YOU, to “train” your horse to feel equally comfortable, with you getting ON from either side.  You wouldn’t want to teach your horse to only turn to the left, would you?  Well, why teach him to only allow you to get on from the left?  Or to only feel “comfortable”, when you get on from the left?



Not the Right Way !


imagesBFNWQH9J imagesHNGPC8VQ












Now, while these all may very well be, ways of getting on a horse, none of them are what we’re going to call the “proper” way, at least not proper for our purposes here today.



Here’s some pictures of the “proper” way of getting on.



No, that’s getting off. We’ll talk about that later.
Seriously ?











OK, Let’s get serious


mounting 4


Above is a simple little series of pictures that really just about say it all.


#1.  Step up to your horse and stand at his shoulder.  Have the reins in your left hand (assuming you’re getting on from the left) and have the reins pulled just enough to take out the slack.  Just in case your horse decides to walk off, you’ve got a hold of him.

#2.  Put your left foot in the stirrup, and get it positioned so that the ball of your foot is resting on the stirrup pad.  Your left hand still has a hold of the reins, and with that same hand, you can also take hold of the front of the saddle, to steady yourself.  If you’re using a western saddle, you can grab the saddle horn with your left hand.

#3.  Using your left hand and arm, and left leg, lift yourself up into an upright position, so that in essence, you will be standing in the stirrup with your left leg.  At this same time you can take hold of the back of the saddle with your right hand, again to steady yourself.  Now your left leg will be standing in the stirrup, your left hand will have hold of the reins and also be holding the front of the saddle (or the horn), and your right hand will be on the back of the saddle.

#4.  You will now lean forward, over your horse’s neck, and swing your right leg up and over your horse’s back.  At this same time of course, you will take your right hand off of the back of the saddle, so it will be ready to take hold of the front of the saddle if needed.

#5.  As your right leg gets over your horse’s back, you will gently sit down into the saddle and allow your right foot to find the right stirrup.  You will probably have to look down on your right side to see the stirrup, but find the stirrup right away, so that both feet are in the stirrups, and you are sitting comfortably in the saddle.  Now you can adjust your weight in the saddle, and check again to make sure both feet are in the proper position in the stirrups.  Remember, the ball of your foot should be on the stirrup pad, heels down, toes up, and forward.



Here’s some more pictures of people getting up into the saddle. 

Follow the simple steps involved, until you can get up on your horse, from either side, in one fluid motion.













mounting 3images0IKL3CBW










right footposture




I Think We’re Ready To Ride Now


Yep, I think we’re ready to ride.  But, that will have to wait till next time.  In the next lesson, titled “How To Learn To Ride A Horse – Part 3”, we’ll do just that.  We’ll start riding.  Do you have any questions so far?  We’ve actually covered lots of ground, even though we haven’t started riding yet.  I’ve got to close for now though.


Please, if you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment area below.  And if you enjoy this site, please refer your friends to visit also.  For now though, “Happy Horse Training”, and “Happy Riding”, Jim.


Thanks so much for following along.




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18 thoughts on “How To Learn To Ride A Horse – Part 2

  1. Great tutorials so far Jim. I feel like I’m learning so much. And you have really great pictures to go along with your descriptions. It really makes it easy for a visual person such as myself to truly see how it works!

    I feel like I’m ready to get on a horse! Heels down, toes up, good posture, natural legs position, hold the reins properly, get on from the left or right. I’m good to start!!

    I’m really loving these tutorials. On to the next one 😉

    1. Wow, you are good to go aren’t you? did you remember all those things from my articles, or did you have to look back at them? I’m just kidding, I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read and to learn about riding. Let me know if there’s anything in particular that you are wondering about. You know, I really believe that if you keep reading and studying all the lessons, that you actually ill be ready to ride if and when a horse does come along. I know that I’d be anxious if I read and learned, and then had to wait to ride. That’s actually how It feels during the winter months here when the weather is too bad to be out with the horses. I’d watch horse shows on TV and clean saddles and bridles, just waiting for spring. One spring My wife and I went up the mountain just after a big snow came through. And we came to a big meadow that was blanketed with about a foot of fresh snow. It was amazing to go galloping through that untouched snow with the horses. I wish I’d have had a video camera. It was really cool. Keep me posted on your progress with your learning. What other things are your hobbies and recreation? I’ll look forward to hearing from you. Jim

      1. Hi again Jim. I actually remembered what they were 😉

        I agree. It’s like learning to drive a car; first you learn the theory then the practical. I WILL be ready to go…one day! It’s very interesting because you never know when you’ll ride a horse on holiday or something. SO why not learn at least the basics and be prepared. Now, to remember it all!

        I spend a lot fo time online as I also have a website. My website is about helping people start their online business off right. From what I see, you don’t need my help in that department! You’ve got it covered 😉

        I’m also in Network Marketing in the health industry. I’m an ESL teacher too. But on paper I’m an interior designer. I love to cook and bake and read. I do too much stuff!!! LOL

        What do you do in yoru free time? Assuming you have any!

        1. I really do hope that you can ride some time. You’d really enjoy yourself I think. What is an ESL teacher? You do have your hands in a lot of things, don’t you? That must keep you very busy. I like to bake a little, mostly cakes and pies. I love banana cream pies, and cheese cakes. My son like to cook too. He works in a deli where they make lunch specials every day, and all sorts of snack items. My wife and I don’t do much cooking at home any more though. We just like to relax at home and fix real easy stuff, or just nibble. My wife does like to cook a full meal sometimes on a Saturday afternoon, and then we’ll have our son over, and my wife’s sister, and we’ll all have a meal together. So, are the websites what you do in your “spare time”? Or is the cooking and baking done in your spare time? I’m not sure what I’d call my spare time. I work about 6 hours a day (no weekends) in town. Then when I’m home, I’m either working on this website, or I’m preparing a weekly religious article for the newspaper, or I’m working on bible class lessons or sermons. In the time that’s left over after that, from about 8:30 pm, till about 5:30 am, I sleep. Oh yeah, in the summer I mow the lawn in the evenings. We have a lot of lawn. How does your daily routine go?

          1. I think I would too!
            ESL is English as a Second Language. I teach adults and teens at the moment.
            I do keep busy. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way 😉
            I love banana cream pie and my absolute favourite is cheesecake!! YUMMM
            It’s cool that your son works in a deli. Hope he brings you and your wife some food once in a while! Especially since you don’t have much time to cook.
            In my spare time, I work on my website and related training, I also do training for my MLM business and work on that too. The rest, like cooking and cleaning and spending time with family and on personal growth like meditation and exercise are regular everyday things that are part of the routine. Wouldn’t call them things I do in my spare time. Once I’m done, it’s late. Life eh? So much to do every day. Luckily to have so many tasks!!
            So you also write religious articles and teach at bible school?
            I can imagine how much LAWN you have!!! lol

          2. What’s the main language there in Belgium? Since you’re bordered by Germany and France, and a couple others, which language takes precedent? I tried to learn Spanish for a while, but never got too good at it. I still have the study materials, so I can always go back to it. For a few years we were vacationing in Mexico, on the Yucatan side. I really love it there. it’s gorgeous.

            Are you familiar with the Basque people? They’re originally from the region of the Pyrenees Mountains bordering Spain and France. This area where I live was very heavily populated with Basque people. They ran the big family sheep ranches that were so prominent in this area especially a couple generations ago. Probably 50 % of the land around here was owned by Basque families.

            Horses have always been a necessary tool out here for running the ranches. Now thing shave changed a bit though. People would rather ride four wheelers to go check cows or gather, or to tend sheep. Actually more with the cattle ranches. Noisy things like four wheelers tend to frighten sheep. Horses here are like most other places now. they’re mostly for hobbies and recreation. Roping is a very big sport here where I live, and across the west. Team roping especially is big here, but so is calf roping. And of course at the brandings ranchers still rope the calves and drag them over to be branded.

            You know what’s really a lot of fun? going on cattle drives. The Forest Service leases mountain pasture to ranchers for the summer months, and so the cows have to brought up the mountain and then back down again. This all used to be done horseback. So you’d “drive” the cows and calves back and forth, up and down the mountain. Now it’s gotten so that there’s too many fences in the way, and so most people have gone to simply trucking the cows back and forth. That takes all the fun out if it though!

            Back to free time.. Bible class preparation, writing articles and preparing sermons do take up most of my time though. That is what I really care about at this point in my life. Anything else is just, well a little recreation, and then some “must do” work. Thanks for all your comments and for taking the time to look around the site. See you soon, Jim.

          3. There are three official languages in Belgium; Dutch, French and German. The people in the north speak Dutch, the south French and a small area near Germany speak German.

            I teach English and I can definitely say that learning a language takes time and lots of practice. Otherwise, it’s quickly forgotten. I see this a lot, and have experienced it myself with Portuguese. Since I don’t speak it as often, I tend to mix it up with French. Yikes!! LOL

            Isn’t Spanish the second language of the US? You should definitely learn it. Learning a language is great a brain exercise!!

            I’ve never been to Mexico though, so I can’t say anything about it. Love Cuba and Costa Rica though.

            Yes, I’ve heard of the Basque people. It’s very interesting…I didn’t know that about them. It’s a shame that most people aren’t riding anymore. I would figure that the 4-wheelers would scare the animals and so make it harder to get them to go where you want.

            Branding…ouch 🙁 Why is it necessary?

            Have a great day Jim.

          4. Spanish is so wide spread here, you’d think it’s the main language! But I don’t mind Spanish at all. It’s not that hard to pick up on if you do a little studying. But very true, that if you don’t use it regularly, you do forget what you’ve learned. Four wheelers don’t scare cows at all. Horses have to get used to them a little. So we used to pony our horses around, behind four wheelers here at the ranch. Then if we come upon them in the mountains on some roads, the horses consider it normal.

            There aren’t many people who brand horses anymore except for bigger ranches. But everyone brands their cattle. Believe it or not, people can and will steal your livestock if they’re not branded. There has to be a brand inspection done any time a horse or cow is transported across the county line. And if the livestock goes out of state, they also need a health certificate. One of our neighbors is the brand inspector for this area.

            Speaking of transporting animals, I’ve spoken a lot about the Icelandic horses. Did you know that in Iceland, if a horse leaves the country, it can never come back in. They have kept their breed so pure, because for at least a thousand years, no other horses have been allowed to come into Iceland. Isn’t that amazing? Well, gotta go for now. Talk to you soon, Jim.

          5. Wow Jim! That’s very interesting about the branding. I really had no idea that it was a way to keep track of the animals. I thought most people used chips or tags nowadays. Especially tags for cattle. But how interesting that it’s necessary for them to be transported around the country. And people will steal them? Seriously?

            It’s quite amazing that Icelandic horses cannot go back into the country once they leave…what if a person has to take their horse to a show or something? Does that count? I can understand about having a pure breed. I totally agree with it. But cannot come back…why?

          6. Have you ever heard of tattooing a horse? Since most people don’t want a brand burned into their horses hide, they have opted for a tattoo to be done under his upper lip. It’s for the same purpose though, to identify. The chips are probably used more in other parts of the world. Branding is still the most common at least in the west. Ear tags are used all the time, but that’s just for the rancher to identify their own animals. It helps keep cows and calves paired up properly, and it helps keep track of certain individuals in the herd. For instance maybe #65 is a “trouble maker”. Or maybe she has a tendency to refuse her calf at first. She’s probably going to go “down the road” in the fall. So you just cut that one out of the herd, by keeping track of her ear tag number.

            Iceland has simply always had that law regulating agriculture. Maybe it’s a health concern also, so that diseases aren’t brought into the country. You know how you can’t bring fruits and vegetables into another country without going through the proper regulatory procedures. The regulation on horses possibly stemmed from a heath concern too. So maybe it’s two-fold. Keeping their breed pure, and also keeping infectious disease from entering the herds. But I was told by an Icelandic breeder who lives in Kentucky, and who imports his horses here from Iceland, that it’s absolutely true that once a horse leaves the country, it can’t go back.

            Thanks for your comments Liz. Please come back again a visit. Jim

  2. I’ve got on a horse before and accidentally, because I haven’t lifted my leg up high enough kicked in the butt as I swinging my leg over. Sounds stupid but, you being an experienced rider know exactly what happens if you do this. I ended up on my back. Taught me a lesson though! Nice write up on how to ride/get onto a horse. I’ll be reading some more and moving onto the next lessons.

    1. Thanks for commenting Trevor. The first horse I owned was rather wild in the spring of the year. I was getting on her one day and she blew just as I was trying to swing my leg over. Well, I ended up flat on my back and got the wind knocked out of me. I didn’t even kick her or anything, she was just ornery. But, things do happen sometimes, that’s why I always recommend that people just starting out, get a very reliable horse. We’ve both learned the hard way haven’t we? Glad you liked the site though. I hope you do read some more. And let me know what other horse stories you’ve got. Your user name says something about Thailand. Are you from Thailand? I’d love to hear about it over there. Thanks again, Jim.

  3. Hi I really love your website on how to ride horses. I think that your website is very informative and interesting. A person like me always wanted to learn how to ride a horse and for me to feel like this website is a real online class says a lot about your website. Not only is this a great way to mentally learn how to ride a horse the teachings are also funny. Making the website very entertaining. I wish I had you writing skills.

    1. Hi Scott. Thank you very much for your kind words. I hope there’s more people like you out there. Really what I want to do, is just share my experiences with others, and maybe help them to enjoy horses like I have. Thanks again, and if you know of others who would like to read about horses, please send them over. Jim

  4. My 9yo daughter is desperate for a horse. (she is a daygirl at a country boarding school…..) wow! the way you have written the info and included pictures was very engaging for her. I expected to make multiple trips to google for this info but she is ready to saddle up! well…. tomorrow we will check out the video lessons first! xo

    1. Hi Sherri. I want to thank your for visiting the site and reading through the lesson. And I’m glad you liked it. If you really want to get the best possible riding instructions, please do visit These men and women are simply the best at what they do. I’d be very happy though, if you’d keep visiting my website and “take some lessons” right here. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask. Thanks again Sherri, and I wish your daughter all the best. Her excitement makes me smile. That’s what it’s all about, helping people to enjoy horses. Thanks, Jim.

  5. I have only ridden an horse a few times in my life, but I sure could have used this article for knowledge before I did. I’ve learned an awful lot reading this and will remember what not to do next time I get on a horse. Thanks for the information, it is very detailed and easy to read

    1. I appreciate your visit to the site Teresa. I’m glad you liked the article that you read. Do you know anyone else who might like this training also? If so, please send them by. Anyone can also check out for video lessons on riding. Thanks again for visiting and for your comment.

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