Equestrian – How to Play?

Before Mounting

Before mounting a horse, make sure that you are mounting gracefully without hurting the horse with your leg onto its rump or saddle. Align yourself correctly over the saddle and start riding with a slight touch over the rein. Do more trotting or jogging instead of cantering or lopping. Instead of artificial aids (crop or spurs), use natural aids (hand, legs, weight and voice) to give a clear cues to your horse on movements.

Before Mounting


Start with little bit of warm up then go for mounting. This is because, cold muscles of the horse require gradual warm up for smooth functioning. Therefore, before canter/lope just move along with your horse in both the direction for jogging or trotting.


Different styles of mounting have different steps but all have some common steps that need to be followed −

  • Take your horse to an open location and make sure your horse is at fair distance from other horses.

  • Check the tightness of clinch/girth.

  • Rein should be evenly distributed over the horse to give a firm control over him. A good rein can help you holding your horse in steady position, so that it will not move while you ride.

  • If the horse is feeling shy or bolt, his eyes and ears can communicate with you. So before riding, look into his face for such signs.

  • Use a mounting block which will help in reducing the strain on horseback while you ride on it.

Western Style of Riding

If you wish to ride the horse in western style, then follow the steps given below −

  • Stand on the left hand side of the horse and start evenly distributing the rein through your hands over his neck.

  • Now hold the rein tightly in your left hand, restricting any further movement of the horse in forward direction before mounting and after mounting it can be released a bit.

  • Use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on the head of your horse and face either in the same direction or to the side of his face.

  • Now position your left hand in front of the withers by holding tightly the saddle if possible.

  • Use your right hand to hold the stirrup and place your left foot in it.

  • Hold the saddle horn tightly and push up off the ground with your right leg.

  • Keep yourself in a standing position and put your whole weight on left stirrup.

  • Pass the right leg over the saddle without touching the horse and sit over it gently.

  • Position your right leg into the right stirrup and adjust the saddle along with reins.


English Style Mounting

If you are going to ride your horse in English style, then use a mounting block and follow these below steps.

  • Keep the stirrup irons run up while mounting on a horse saddle with an English saddle.

  • Place the reins over the head of your horse.

  • Hold the reins with your left hand by standing on the left hand side of the horse. Reins should be evenly distributed and should be short enough to hold the horse in a steady position.

  • Face towards the forequarters and at the withers, grasp your horse’s mane with your left hand.

  • Now it’s time to turn the iron stirrup towards you in a clockwise direction with your right hand.

  • Place your left foot into the stirrup and right hand on the off side of the saddle.

  • Now lean slightly forward and mount the horse with your right foot making an arc over his saddle without touching.

  • Now sit down gently on the saddle by adjusting your right foot into the stirrup and adjust the reins with your hands.

English Style


Before landing, always make sure that your landing area is free from any obstacles. Those who are using western style of horse riding can use any of the following two dismounting methods.

  • Without using your left stirrup, gently slide down from the horse.

  • Leave your foot in the left stirrup and step down from the horse.

The size of the rider decides the method of sliding down from the horse. For example, a person having small height should use the first method instead of second.

If you are an English rider, then without using the left stirrup slide down from the horse or else do the vaulting. Like western styles, riders do not step down from the horse directly.

Position of Body Parts while Riding

If you learn how to mount and dismount from the horse, that is not going to help you in playing equestrian. Learning about various body positions is also equally important. Below we have discussed about some basic position of your body while sitting on the horse.

  • Head − Do not tilt your head with respect to your shoulders, rather keep it straight and keep your eyes on the destination. Put the weight out of your heel by kneeling forward and keep your chin in up position.

  • Shoulders − As soon as you position yourself on the saddle, try to maintain your both shoulders at same level. If not, they may indicate that your body weight is not balanced centrally. If you lean in a direction, it will make your horse to lean in that direction too.

  • Back − Keep your back always in a vertical position with respect to your base. Do not keep it rigid else it will affect your performance.

  • Stomach and Arms − Your stomach should be flat and arms should hang naturally not rigidly. Keep them soft and relaxed. In this way, your hand will move naturally when the horse will make any movement.

  • Seat − Keep your hips and pelvis in relaxed position because they are the real shock absorbers. Try to distribute your body weight evenly all over the saddle. Your thighs should remain in touch with the saddle.

  • Legs − Through your legs, you can actually communicate with the horse effectively. Legs can balance your upper body in a equilibrium position over the saddle. Stirrups should be of shorter height than saddle so that your legs and ankles can effectively act as shock absorbers.

  • Foot − Most part of your body weight is carried out by your heel. So, proper positioning of the ball of your foot over the stirrup determines how you are going to use your legs. The position of your feet should be nearly parallel with the side of the horse.

Changing Direction

To change the direction, you must use your hands, legs and the reins effectively. Let’s discuss some of the basics.

Turn right/left

Let’s start with a procedure for turning right. Turning left will follow the similar procedure with opposite aids. Put more pressure on the right hand side of the stirrup but do not lean over the horse. Then draw the rein little back. Now there is task to turn the horse in a direction you want to. For that you first turn your head, then shoulders and then hips, so that your horse can sense the movement through you.

Change Direction

As the horse starts turning, bump his girth slightly with your outside legs so that the horse will turn around more tightly. Here the outside leg will control the impulsion and the inside leg will control the bending of his ribcage.

Riding a Circle

Making a circle requires the bending of the horse at four points and the rider should be able to see horse’s inside eye all around the way. The steps for circling are as follows −

  • When you start to move around a circle, your horse will follow his nose and will look for where he is going.

  • Slightly tip his nose to the arc of the circle with your inside rein.

  • Use your outside leg to control the movement of the horse around the circle.

  • Your inside leg can make him move around the arc by applying pressure on his ribcage and spine in the same direction. Bump him at his girth in between if he does not respond.

  • Pull your inside rein slightly up of his mane so that the shoulder of your horse will remain in upright position.