Tips for riding a naughty horse

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

When you start horseback riding you have to know, at some point in your riding career you will ride a naughty horse. It just isn't something you can dodge. While riding a naughty/nervous horse there are some things you should know at all times. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks when riding one.

Always have the reins short

This is one of the most important things when riding a horse you aren't familiar with or even comfortable. Always, and I mean ALWAYS keep the reins short enough so if they tried to buck you could pull back and you would successfully be able to stop them. If your reins aren't short enough when you try to pull back the horse won't feel a tug. When you get to the point where you have pulled the reins back all the way to the hip and your wrists are curved, then you should start to panic because the reins must be REALLY long. Always have the reins short so you can deal with the problem safely, not just safe for you but safe for the horse.

Keep the balls of your feet in the stirrups, heels down

Keeping the ball of your foot in the stirrup with your heels down is essential for safety. If your horse tried to buck you off you could throw your feet forward and your feet would stay in the stirrups. Nothing is worse than flying off your horse because your feet weren't secure in the stirrups. Remember to always have your heels down so you can press down hard and stay in the saddle.

Hold the reins tightly

This has got to be the most important thing when riding a naughty horse. Always hold the reins tightly with your thumb and pointer finger. Your other fingers can be soft but the thumb and pointer finger have to be clutching the reins. If the horse would to buck or raise on their hind legs you are relying on the reins to keep you from sliding off. Also, if the horse were to trip and the reins would fly out of your hands, they would then be on the ground just waiting for an accident to happen.

Always remember to say "Whoa"

You would think that people would say "Whoa!" to stop their horse but a lot of times they get nervous and can't think and they try to stop their horse just using the reins but that never works. The first thing they teach you in horseback riding is to say "Whoa!" to stop. However, when you are nervous and scared you can't think straight and you forget to say whoa. Always have "Whoa!" on the tip of your tongue, just in case.

If you feel uncomfortable, stop

If you riding along and you feel uncomfortable, or like the horse is on the verge of a buck, stop. Tell your coach you feel like the horse is going to buck and move to someplace quieter for the horse. Don't risk getting hurt, just stop if you feel uncomfortable.

Pick a spot that is quiet and distraction-free

Maybe your horse isn't trying to be naughty, maybe it just gets distracted and goofs off or it gets nervous. Pick an arena that is quiet and distraction-free so the horse doesn't try to do anything harmful.

Make sure all the tack is nicely fitted

Make sure the tack is in a good position. Your horse may just be acting up because they are uncomfortable with the tack. Double-check the tack before you ride.

Get your horse earbuds

Earbuds for horses is a great idea. Like I said before, a lot of horses get scared about what is going on around them. They don't want to buck but they hear a loud noise and suddenly they feel like the world is ending. Earbuds for horses are great. They block out background sounds and noises so that your horse is focused and behaved during your ride. Just remember to say "Whoa!" a little louder in case your horse doesn't hear you to clearly.

Don't jump right away

If it's your first time riding the horse don't jump right away until you understand your horse's behavior. This goes for cantering or galloping, or anything challenging that you would do. Until you are more familiar with the horse don't work on difficult stuff.

Don't use spurs or a crop

This is very important when riding a jittery horse. DONT wear spurs or a crop because when you do a squeeze too hard or do a light tap with your crop, chances are the horse will take off or get nervous and try to jump. Make sure you are not wearing spurs or carrying a crop during your lesson.

Bond with your horse before you ride

This tip can help you a lot to get your nervous horse to trust you. Before you ride go up to your horse and give it some kisses or pets, maybe bring it some treats. Get it to trust you so it feels comfortable with you when you ride. You can also spend a couple of minutes with your horse when you are in the arena, just calming it down, making it feel comfortable.

Understand your horse's behavior

If your horse bucks or does something that isn't the nicest never get mad at the horse. Lots of times your horse isn't trying to hurt you, they are just confused or scared. Instead of kicking the horse get off and give it some pets and kisses to assure them they are safe. Try to calm the horse down instead of hurting it. The horse didn't want to hurt you, they were probably just scared. And if you feel like your horse did do it on purpose end the lesson. Tell your coach you don't feel comfortable getting back on and put the horse back in the stall.


I hope these tips help you when riding a naughty horse. My coach gave me a lot of these tips when I rode my first nervous one and they helped a lot. Riding a horse like this isn't a bad thing, its a great way to become a better rider and have better control when riding. Have you ever ridden a horse like this or has something like this ever happened to you? Make a post or start a discussion about it on the social board. Also, feel free to share in the comments below.





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