I must start this off by saying that I don’t really believe any human can teach another human how to ride a horse. The horse must teach you that.

The very best advice I can give is to always allow your body to match the horse’s movement. Consequently, the motion of the horse will dictate and generate the movement of your body. 

That being said, there are some handy tips that every rider should keep in mind:

Before You Ride A Horse, Check Your Saddle

The configuration of your saddle will either help or hinder how you ride a horse. If your saddle prevents your shoulders, hips, and heels from being in a straight line it will be impossible to ride a horse in a balanced way. However, many saddles put your feet too far forward. But, there are adjustments you can make to your existing saddle that will help the stirrups hang more underneath your hips. We made a video titled ‘Trotting Secrets’ demonstrating how to do this on the Buckaroo Crew.

Don’t Balance With Your Reins When You Ride A Horse

Never, ever, never use your reins for balance when you ride a horse. If you find that this is happening, ride your horse in a pen without reins to improve your seat until your balance does not depend on holding the reins. More about rein management can be found here: https://carsonjames.com/rein-management/

Never Clinch Your Horse With Your Knees

There should be a gap between your knee and the saddle with your toes turned slightly out. If you clinch with your knees, it can pop you right out of the seat. So always resist the temptation to squeeze with your knees when you ride your horse. It will actually do the opposite of what you are wanting. 

Correct Stirrup Length For Riding

Your legs should have a slight bend, but only enough to allow you to barely rise out of the saddle when posting a trot. Many people have their stirrups too short, over-post the trot, and rise too far out of the saddle seat. As a result, this type of riding will wear you out in a hurry and make it hard to stay balanced.

Ride Your Horse Loose

Keep your spine loose and supple when riding a horse. Allow your hips to go with the horse in a left, right motion and don’t be too stiff. To further improve your balance, ride your horse bareback or over some rough country. In addition, going up and down hills and over obstacles will require you to develop a better seat.

Relax And Enjoy The Ride

The best advice is to RELAX and enjoy the ride. Close your eyes, loosen the reins, and practice feeling your horse’s movement to get in sync with him. When our body is tense, it’s impossible to ‘go with’ the horse. 

What If?

If your horse is mentally sound, then learning to relax and move with your horse should be a breeze, and a lot of fun. If your horse is unpredictable, there may be good reasons for you to be tense. You can use my mental soundness checklist to see if your horse can check off all the boxes.

Get it here: https://sp.carsonjames.com/mental-soundness-checklist


Carson James
Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship, and for the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. His knowledge comes from real life experience using traditional Buckaroo horsemanship to train horses and fix problems. He is now taking all of this knowledge and experience and sharing it with horse owners through his blog, his Insider list, and his Buckaroo Crew. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.