Horse Riding Skills Checklist

People ride horses for various reasons ranging from recreational purposes to competitive sports. Horse riding is also a great form of exercise as it helps you to be active. Being active can help to lift your mood, will drastically reduce your anxiety and stress, will help you to burn calories, will build your muscles, energize you, and will help with your overall physical health.

Also, this activity will serve to build your confidence, reasoning, memory, and analytical skills, providing a good source of mental workout.

Horse riding can be a source of great fun, but it also requires a lot of work. Regardless of why you decide to ride a horse, one thing is sure. You must be ready to devote enough time to acquiring the necessary skills to ride a horse properly. You do not necessarily have to attain perfection, but then there are some basic skills that you will need to master if you are to carry out this activity.

Mounting and riding a horse requires confidence and you can only attain this confidence by learning the skills that you need to learn.

After mastering the basic skills in horse riding, you will need to master advanced skills. These advanced riding skills will allow you to control the horse and will make it easier for the animal to carry you. You cannot easily learn how to ride a horse from a video, websites, or a book. You have to learn this activity by physically being there to give it a go.

Learning to Horse ride

The process is gradual and there is no point in trying to rush through it. The first thing that you will be taught about riding may not be the actual riding skills. Learning to groom, lead, and tie a horse are essential skills that help you learn to understand the horse, stay safe, and increase your enjoyment. You will be taught these things first.

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The best way to learn these skills is to hire a competent coach/instructor, or you can just enroll in a riding school. Horse riding can be risky and so, you should never attempt to learn it by yourself. An expert must be there to guide you until you have mastered riding a horse.

Your horse riding coach can teach you all the safety tips that you need to know and he will remind you of them as you ride. It will not be easy for you to remember all the new things that he has taught you at first.

When you decide to learn how to ride, it is a great idea for you to enroll in a riding school. The school will guide you through everything that you need to know, even if you are totally new to horse riding. A riding school will also provide all the necessary equipment you need to learn how to ride properly and will also provide the horse with which you are to learn.

After finding a school which you think is suitable for you, visit it and check out everything to make sure it meets your demands. If you don’t have the time to visit, call the instructor at the riding school and provide necessary information about yourself and your previous experiences, if you have any. This information will guide the instructor in selecting the best horse for you.

Once you have made the decision to hire a personal coach or enroll in a riding school, it will be a great idea to make a checklist that will ensure you do not miss out on any of the horse riding skills you are being taught because of the limitation of memory. It also helps you to master these skills quickly as it keeps you fully focused. Making a checklist is very easy, but it requires discipline and determination to follow it through. Below is an example of a horse riding checklist:

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Basic Beginner Skills

  • Identify basic colorings and markings of horses.
  • Learning horse anatomy
  • Learn how to catch a horse in the field
  • Learn how to bath a horse
  • Learn how to braid a horse’s mane and pleat the tail
  • Leading the horse properly
  • Grooming the horse with the various brushes:
  • Curry comb
  • Shedding brush
  • Hard brush
  • Soft brush
  • Hoof pick
  • Sweat scraper
  • Mane and tail comb
  • Identify tack parts and types, cleaning, disassembling and maintaining
  • Learn to saddle a horse properly
  • Mounting the horse correctly
  • Practice balancing on the horse and balance games, including “around-the-world.”
  • Dismounting the house correctly
  • Memorize the walking, sitting, and posting trots.
  • Maintaining speed at trot using hands, legs, weight/seat
  • Supporting and steering a horse at the trot using hands, legs, seat/weight
  • Learn to stand in your stirrups during the walk.
  • Learn to walk without using the stirrup irons.
  • Practice halting.
  • Attend a meeting with the youth group.
  • Practicing steering basic maneuvers such as circles and reverses
  • Work on the walk-to-trot transition
  • Identify diagonals

Intermediate level skills

  • Master how to canter.
  • Master trot-to-canter transitions.
  • Master walk-to-canter transitions.
  • Know how to differentiate between and identify the incorrect and the correct diagonals.
  • Do a serpentine while you are at the trot.
  • Do a posting trot without using stirrup irons.
  • Pick up and hold (address) the reins.
  • Practice one rein halt at walk, trot, and canter.
  • Do personal workouts.
  • Partake in a stable show.
  • Wear jodhpurs, boots, gloves to all lessons.
  • Carry a whip with you during all lessons.
  • Clean every equipment after rides.

Skills for Advanced beginners. 

  • Performing changing diagonals.
  • Practicing halt-to-trot and trot-to-halt transitions
  • Standing up in the stirrup irons while doing the trot.
  • Performing a reverse while doing the trot.
  • Sitting the trot without the use of stirrups
  • Adjusting the stirrups from the ground while using your arm to measure.
  • Backing up your horse accurately.
  • Beginning to learn the elemental canter starts.
  • Attending a stable show.
  • Canter without using stirrups.
  • Carry out simple lead changes.
  • Stand at the canter.
  • Ride with an iron one at a time.
  • Practice riding bareback.
  • Memorize everything about collection and headsets.
  • Learn to ride with your full bridle.
  • Carry out workouts
  • Participate in outside shows or academy shows.
  • Lease or purchase a horse.
  • Continue to attend youth group activities.
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Master-level skills

  • You should be able to do a serpentine while cantering.
  • You should be able to speed at canter using your hands, legs, seat/weight.
  • You should be able to do a change of leads in a straight line
  • You should be able to master small jumps
  • Also, master jumping on trails and hunter pacing
  • Riding correctly in a western saddle.
  • Riding correctly in an English saddle.
  • You must have ridden with the drill team.
  • You should be able to cue a horse to relax and lift through the back
  • You should be able to put a tail set on.
  • Identify every part of the English saddle.
  • Identify every part of the western saddle.
  • You should be able to know and identify all parts of a driving harness.
  • You should be able to ride a horse that is gaited.
  • You must have worked with an equine veterinarian for some time, like over a summer.

Horse riding is a very interesting activity as it offers a lot of benefits (both psychological and physical) to those who engage in it, and although there are so many skills involved in horse riding as in other sporting activities, learning these skills is not impossible.

With this checklist, you can fully appreciate every lesson taught in the riding school and develop into a professional horse rider in little to no time.

In whatever way you choose to learn these skills, whether by enrolling in a riding school or by hiring an instructor to teach you, remember to make a checklist as it will encourage you to remain focused and organized.