hard about riding

Well, it's not really that hard to ride horses.

In fact, one might say it's pretty simple to sit and be taken around from place to place. That's because once you can stay on with some balance, and move along reasonably with the horse, you'll be riding. All it takes is some tack and a willing horse. People have been doing this for millenia, long before we learned to drive cars or write a blog post or tap on our smart phones.

What is hard is much deeper and more profound than travelling à la equine. It involves much more than a simple stop, start, go left and go right.

Some of the learning can be physical. It's about sensing the slightest change in balance, position, or even thought (of the horse). It's knowing when to move and when to stay still, when to tighten your core muscles and how to maintain a three-point seat on a moving back.

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But it's more than that. The real learning can be personal. Riding can "exercise" your emotions, your mental stamina and even your very character.

Because horse riding is an interaction.

It isn't anything like blog writing or driving a car or texting on the phone. The horse is a living, breathing, self-determining participant in everything we do. The reason we call it a partnership is exactly why we are put in a position to learn - especially about ourselves.

This learning might be the most difficult of your life, because it is likely the most personal characteristics - those entrenched in your normal day-to-day existence - that are challenged to develop over time. The horse doesn't know it. He just goes on being a horse, doing his best to be with you, but nevertheless being a horse.

You, on the other hand, are put in a position that requires you to recognize what needs to change in you so that you can improve in your riding. For your horse. And that is the most difficult part of what horses really do for us.

What do you think is the hardest part about riding horses? Comment below.

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Horse Listening Book 3Read more here:

Dark Room Doors and Dressage: A metaphor for the learning process.

Riding is Simple, But Not Easy! Let’s face it – all we want is for the horse to do what we want, when we want, where we want, with suppleness and strength!

The Dynamic Dependency of Horseback Riding: Why is it that riding can become so difficult at times? In riding, nothing can be done in isolation.

When Do You Start Riding Your Horse? This question was being posed to me by a very respected and horse-wise mentor one day long ago, early in my riding development.

What you Ought to Know About Instant Gratification in Horse Riding: There is no such thing!


  1. I am a 58 year old woman who suffered a hip fracture last year from a riding accident. I have the luxury of starting “from scratch” on a reliable lesson pony so I can work up to my challenging mount. I think I have finally found the right trainer to assist me in my learning. And the learning never stops….but the horses are the real trainers.

  2. When your horse needs empathy. When she tries as hard as she can to give her all and some days just doesn’t make it. It’s ok. None of us are perfect every day, but if you have a horse that really tries and works with what she has, just listen, be with her and thank her.

  3. What I’m learning now is the hardest part is not about riding at all. My horse is recovering from an injury and we are hand walk only. So far, it’s been a month since our last ride. I’m learning horse ownership is not always about riding. I’m learning I have to put aside riding goals and focus on my horse’s recovery. Because of the x-ray results, I may have to reconsider riding altogether.

    “The horse is a living, breathing, self-determining participant in everything we do.” I wholeheartedly agree which is why my horse is my horse forever regardless of what I may or may not able to do with her in the future. Horses are not pieces of sports equipment to be thrown out when they don’t work right anymore and I’ve seen this time after time at my boarding barn. My horse is with ME forever, it’s a commitment and promise I made to her when I took ownership years ago.

    Riding is a big part of why we own horses, but it’s just one part of horse ownership.

  4. This blog entry has obviously been one of your most profound………which I can tell by reading the comments made so far! It has really touched a lot of people…….and that’s a GOOD thing! Thank you again, Kathy, for being who you are & being SO able to put things in words!

  5. I started riding 5 years ago at age 49. I started and stopped for 15 months or so, mostly on ponies or small horses. I came back and stayed when I was introduced to Willie, a 17 hand Hanoverian. I never “felt” his height. He never intimidated me with his power. I just knew he would keep me as safe as he could. He’s a bit broken. As a show jumper, he was over shown and came close to being put down prior to arriving at the barn where I ride. Nevertheless, he is beautiful, kind, and powerful.

    I learned very quickly that I can’t hide anything from him. Whatever emotion I try to stuff, in the name of a good ride, emerges without my permission. He is not a forward horse, so I’ve learned to be assertive and clear. As I reach new milestones, he throws in some tests to help make me a better rider. Sometimes we bicker like an old married couple. Sometimes one of us will give into each other’s moods. But, now I’ve learned to listen. Honestly, I think he has been teaching me his language all this time.

    This weekend I rode bareback and the trot was so magical. We worked in a bareback canter toward the end of the lesson and I got a little bit of distance in. I’m still trying to sort out that dance.

    My relationship with Willie mirrors my relationship with myself. It isn’t always easy, but so worth the time.

  6. I think the hardest thing for me was learning to trot. Being able to balance myself and hold the reins rather than the saddle’s pommel or horse’s mane while doing so was really difficult. I’d say the second hardest thing was posting. I have gotten to the point where I can do both fairly well, but still have a long way to go.

  7. I have loved and owned horses since I was 17 I’m 60 now and don’t own or ride anymore but I still adore them and old own another if I had the resources to do so . Confidence and trust has gone had some bad falls but I still get a sense of peace when ever I’m around them once your a horse lover that love lasts for a lifetime .