why boring is beautiful horseback riding
Photo Credit: J. Boesveld

They say horseback riding, especially "flat work" is boring. It's like watching paint dry.

It's true that there is little excitement to be seen when the horse moves in a steady tempo, glides through the gait changes, and seems to be doing everything on his own volition. It's pretty dull to watch the rider that appears to be doing absolutely nothing other than staying on top of the horse.

Bucks and rears? None.

Harsh riding? Nope.

Now I'm not talking about the kind of boring that you might see if someone just sits on the horse and does nary a thing at all. That can, in fact, be quite boring.

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This kind of boring requires movement. You go places. The horse floats and glides. The rider is so quiet that we forget that she's there. The transitions happen, the figures come one after the other in perfect succession. While there is definite communication happening, it's subtle and refined.

This is the kind of boring that excites the educated observer. In fact, it is within all the calmness that one can see the true togetherness of the horse and rider. The respect and the compassion goes both ways. This is the stuff of dreams, the quiet that inspires and exhilarates the people who really know what they're seeing.

Why Is Boring Beautiful?


The opposite of conflict is harmony. In the riding sense, the horse and rider seem to connect in a way that allows them to "become one". While there is plenty of activity and movement, there is little stop-and-go, and rare bobbles. Negative tension in terms of pinned ears, gaping mouth, tight back are not apparent.

Freedom of Movement

The horse just flows. The shoulders reach, the body is round and the movement is bouncy. It looks effortless and powerful at the same time. The lack of conflict gives the rider so much more time to devote to staying with the horse, communicating and riding.


Both horse and rider seem at ease with each other. They can afford to trust in a way that results in a bold way of going that cannot happen if there is tension involved. The horse is allowed to be expressive and take initiative while the rider quietly stays in the movement.


Boring simply can't happen without a sophisticated level of communication. As soon as the "conversation" breaks down, there will be tension and all the associated problems. Of course, developing a language between horse and rider takes time and education on both parts. Therefore, you might notice your rides becoming more "boring" as you both become experienced in knowing what to do when.


There is a certain amount of care and attention that goes into a nice boring ride! Compassion comes in many forms. It is not necessary to be harsher in your aids when something doesn't work out - just take a moment to regroup and try it again. Appreciate the horse's efforts. Be encouraging, speak in a kind voice.


There's something purposeful about a pair that is moving together, in confidence, with that subtle communication. It looks like they both know where they are going, what they are doing, and what's coming next. There is no confusion or discord between them. 

All of these intangible qualities combine to make the overall picture of the horse and rider a thing of beauty. More importantly, the true beauty lies in the positive experience for both.

To those that walk away: you can keep your exciting rides - I'm going to work on boring!

Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!

Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions. 

This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.

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Read more from the blog:

The #1 Rider Problem: Riding In TensionThe thing is, tension happens all the time. The real problem is that too many riders don't address tension when it arises.

Get Rid Of That Tension: 4 Steps To Improved SupplenessSuppleness can be an elusive concept for many people as well as horses. Without suppleness, you and your horse are left to always ride in tension and with a counterproductive posture.

The Power Of Self-Talk While You Ride HorsesThis type of talking is not intended as a training tool for your horse, although it can surely become that too. It is more about training yourself.

8 Ways To Help Your Horse Achieve His Highest PotentialRegardless of what we want to do with our horses, our first responsibility is always to the horse.



  1. I actually really enjoy watching people work on the flat. It’s fun to observe how they’re communicating and watching for when the connection happens. I always watch with bated breath waiting for the connection and the moment when things click. It’s so beautiful to me. But, then again, I am a horse person.