Horse Riding Exercises for Beginners

Woman doing horse riding exercises on a mat

Horse riding is a sport that has been around for centuries, and it’s still going strong. It’s not easy to master, but with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to do some amazing things on the back of your horse. You can learn these horse riding exercises on your own at home before you even get on the horse so that when you finally ride for real, it will be easier to keep these poses in mind.


When it comes to horse riding exercises, the lunges are great. They help you develop strength, balance, and flexibility in the legs. You can make lunges with dumbbells in your hands or without weights.

Stand with feet hip-width apart and squat down by bending your knees until your back knee almost touches the floor. 

Make sure that both knees stay over your ankles throughout this exercise. Then rise again using your glutes to push yourself back up into a standing position as quickly as possible without losing the balance of leaning forward too much (it should be very minimal). 

Repeat this movement on each leg for a specified number of reps depending on what you’re aiming for: if you’re trying to build muscle mass, go higher than eight reps per set; if you want more endurance, then keep going until 20 reps is easy before adding weight/resistance through dumbells, etc.


Keep your knees soft and relaxed.

Focus on the horse’s movement and rhythm rather than on yourself. Staying in the saddle is a matter of staying with the horse’s gait, so keep your heels down and pointed at all times. Your toes should also be pointed to help you get into position quickly when needed. Keep your body straight so that you can ride comfortably for long periods without getting sore or tired. Finally, never let go of the stirrups; they’re there for balance!

Lifting the Legs

The lift is the first step toward achieving more complex gaits. The most important thing to remember when lifting your leg is to do it slowly and deliberately. You should be able to feel each joint extending, then flexing again as you move up and down. When you’re ready, here are some horse riding exercises that can help you improve your ability to lift your legs.


Lift one leg out of the lope, extending it straight behind you with no bend at any joint. Ensure your foot points forward or slightly inward (no outward pointing!). Then lower it back into the gait smoothly without rushing or bouncing; alternate which foot goes up first until you’ve completed all four beats of this exercise’s rhythm pattern.


Repeat what was done above but with both feet together rather than individually, making sure they point forward while lifting them.


Again, repeat what was done above, but this time only halfway; walk on three legs while letting one hang relaxedly off its hock/knee joint so that when you return that leg down into position next time around, it will land under yours instead between them.


Repeat this process for halting by lifting just one foot at a time out of whatever gait has already been established and is currently underway



This is a straightforward but one of the most effective horse riding exercises for beginners. You’ll want to start with a walk, then jog, and finally walk again. 

The pace should be the same throughout each exercise stage, and keep your stride length the same! When you get to the jogging part of this exercise, don’t worry about how fast you’re going or how far you’re running. Also, try to focus on keeping your stride consistent every step so that your body has time to adjust to its new pace. 

Finally, make sure that when you transition from walking back into jogging at any point during this exercise, there isn’t any difference in time between phases (i.e., between phases where one foot is touching down versus both feet touching down).

Posting Trot

Posting trot is the most common gait in English riding. It is a two-beat lateral gait, meaning that each foot strikes the ground twice before the opposite foot hits the ground. 

The posting trot rhythm can be thought of as: left hind leg, right hind leg, left foreleg, and right foreleg. Posting trot is also known as a “four-beat” gait; however, it’s not an even-stepping rhythm like gallop or lope because of how high you rise with every stride. The key to keeping your seat while posting is to anticipate your horse’s movements by getting out ahead of time so that his hoof lands directly under your heart rather than behind it (which would cause you to fall off). 

To get into position for posting trot, lower yourself over his shoulders while at a walk and then shift forward until he’s moving more steadily under you than he was walking at first.

Rises and Falls

Rises and Falls are an excellent exercise for beginners with a horse. They’re also a good way to build core strength, which will help you in other activities later on. You can practice Rises and Falls in any small space, such as your backyard or even the yard of your local stable.

Rises and Falls can be done on a horse that is standing still. Start by sitting straight up in the saddle with both feet flat against the stirrups. Then lean forward until both legs are parallel with the ground, then pull yourself back into position using only your arms (you should not lift your hips). Repeat this several times until you have mastered it, then try lifting one leg higher than the other at a time while leaning forward so that one foot hangs off each side of the horse’s backside. 

This exercise will allow you to work on balance and build strength in each leg individually without putting too much pressure on either one!

You can do these at home before you get on your horse

Using the wall

Stand in front of a wall, place one hand on a chair or bench and step backward until you feel the tension in your back leg. Slowly lower down until you are parallel with the floor. Your other hand should hold onto something for support, such as the chair or bench you placed against the wall. Hold for five seconds, then stand back up and repeat ten times on each leg.

Invite a friend

Get a friend to help hold your feet up while they gently push down on them so that they are straight out behind you at a right angle from your body (think Superman is flying). Please do this for five seconds, then lower and repeat ten times per leg with each foot held by someone else’s hand while they try to bring it back up again so that it remains flat against their body during this exercise! This is a fantastic way of working out those upper thighs!

In front of the mirror

Standing before an open wardrobe door or large mirror will allow us to see our posture and check how far we have come since starting these horse riding exercises!


You should be able to sit in the saddle comfortably and sit up straight. You should also be able to move your hips freely and your legs and arms without restriction. The bit shouldn’t make you uncomfortable or pinched while riding.

If there is a problem with any of these things, consider fixing it before starting lessons.


Keeping your hands relaxed is one of the most important aspects of riding. This not only helps you maintain balance but also prevents hand fatigue. When you have to hold onto the reins for an extended time, they can easily cramp up and make riding uncomfortable or even painful. 

So how do you keep your hands relaxed?

To begin with, don’t grip the reins too tightly! Your fingers should be loose enough that there’s some wiggle room between them and where they’re holding the reins. 

If there isn’t any wiggle room between those two points (i.e., tension), loosen up! There should be some slack in between so that when you clench around them without thinking about it (as we tend to do when we’re nervous, you can still get away with less tension than before.

Hand Behind the Back

  • Keep your hands behind your back
  • Keep the elbows bent
  • Keep the shoulders down
  • Keep your head up
  • Keep the hips forward
  • Keep the knees soft and relaxed, with feet flat on the floor or in stirrups (if riding a horse)
  • Make sure your heels are down and toe up as often as possible during this exercise to reduce strain on lower back muscles; also, make sure not to lift your heels too much, which puts too much pressure on knees and ankles!

Lose the Stirrups

Once you’ve mastered the basics, try this exercise:

  • Walk your horse at a trot
  • Pull on both reins until they’re taught when he’s relaxed and comfortable
  • Then, release one harness without letting go of it or moving it from its position in front of the saddle. You should feel a little tug as your horse tries to move away from that side
  • Try to keep the horse forward by pulling back firmly on both reins—but only for about ten seconds! Then let go of the second rein again, keeping hold of only one (the one that was already released).

Your horse will probably be confused at first because he doesn’t know which direction is correct. Still, suppose you have done this right and practiced often enough. In that case, eventually, he should understand what’s wanted and start walking nicely again across your soft hands while continually shaking his head up and down as if saying “no way”.


We hope this article has helped you learn more about beginner horse riding exercises. If you are just starting, it can be intimidating to think of everything you could be doing wrong on your horse. But, with these horseback riding tips and tricks in mind, we hope that you feel more confident in yourself as a rider and enjoy a more leisurely ride!