Do Horses Like To Be Ridden?
Whether you ride or not, I’m sure you’ve seen a horse and asked yourself “do horses like to be ridden?”.
To an equestrian, it may be obvious when your horse wants to work and when they don’t. Does your horse move away from you when you head toward it with your saddle in arms? Does your horse act up as soon as you get on? There are definitely signs of whether a horse is not comfortable and isn’t enjoying the ride. But, it really depends on the horse.
Plenty of horses seem to enjoy being ridden and are fond of the attention they get from their riders. However, there are definitely horses out there who do not like it. They’ll be more stubborn while you’re on and maybe agitated while being tacked up.
Though, riding does benefit the horse. It allows the horse to be active and burn off energy which helps them maintains their health. Horse riding can help build muscle, improving their strength and stamina. But, this doesn’t mean the horses actually like it.
How Do You Know How Your Horse Feels About Being Ridden?
It may not seem like much to you, but every time you get in the saddle, you ask a lot of your horse. Not only are you asking the horse to carry you, but you’re also looking for trust and that the horse will follow your commands.
Knowing how your horse feels about being ridden isn’t always known. All horses are different. Some horses visibly enjoy it, while others might find it annoying or even scary.
Whether or not your horse enjoys it usually depends on a few things. How/when they were trained and conditioned and the relationship with the rider. Also, their health status is a big factor. An athlete doesn’t train if they are injured, and a horse probably won’t enjoy being ridden if they are lame.
Reasons Why A Horse May Not Like Being Ridden
Just because you feel comfortable and relaxed on horseback, doesn’t necessarily mean the horse is enjoying it. There are several reasons why a horse may not like being ridden. Understanding each reason can help you become a more aware equestrian which can help ensure your horse is enjoying the work they are doing.
Improper or Ill-fitting Tack
One of the most common reasons a horse is uncomfortable is ill-fitting tack. If the saddle or bridle doesn’t fit properly, it can cause discomfort, chaffing, and pain. It is vital that you check the tack and ensure it fits properly.
Saddles aren’t one-size-fits-all. Most horses need something custom to ensure maximum comfort. If you can’t afford a custom saddle, take measurements of your horse to your saddlery. Also, include the breed of your horse. This can help them determine the best fit. Make sure you ask questions about the types of saddles and the type of riding you plan on doing to help guarantee it is the right one for your horse.
When it comes to bits and bridles, you want your horse’s comfort and how you communicate with it in mind. Are you a dressage rider? Maybe, your horse is working on a cattle ranch. Depending on the activities you plan on doing, you will need a specific type of bit and bridle.
Have you asked yourself if you are preparing your horse properly before you get on? Carefully grooming your horse first is always important. Make sure you get any hair pinched in between the tack. During the preparation, you also be able to see any issues that could cause injury while riding.
While you brush where the saddle goes, monitor for any reaction. Flinches can indicate a pain reaction that might require investigating. You can then run your bare hands over the horse’s back to look for bumps, sores, and heat that could tell you that your horse shouldn’t be ridden. Then, inspect your saddle pad for debris before placing it on your horse.
Additionally, an ill-fitting saddle pad can also cause discomfort and chafing. They must be in good condition and put on correctly. Before you tighten the girth, make sure the pad is resting against the horse evenly and isn’t pinching it.
What you do after a ride is just as important as what you do before a ride. You should think of the post-ride routine as a treat for your horse. This is when they get rewarded for their hard work. After all, you want your horse to think warmly about being ridden.
After a hard ride, it is important to wait until your horse cools down before you give your horse water. Once are off the horse, start by removing the saddle and walk them for a few minutes, then you may give them some water. You can repeat this as many times as you need until you feel your horse is sufficiently cooled down.
Once the horse is cool, you can begin grooming. After riding, sweat can build up and dry. Once the sweat is dried it can get itchy. Brushing your horse feels good and helps remove any dried sweat and debris. This is also a good time to look for injuries. On hot days, giving your horse a nice bath will also be helpful.
When you are grooming, be sure to check the hooves as well. Dirt and rocks can get into the frog, which can be very painful. Additionally, you can scan for any injuries to the hoof.
After grooming, rewarding your horse with a nice edible treat will further help them think kindly toward being ridden.
Yea, one of the most critical parts of this question is whether or not it’s about the horse or the rider.
Did you know that the most painful bit, is actually when the rider is heavy-handed? The most-mild bit available will still hurt a horse’s mouth if the rider is too aggressive.
It is also important to note that size matters. Some horses cannot carry their riders. A large person shouldn’t attempt to ride a small horse – it is uncomfortable for both of them. You’ll enjoy riding a horse that fits you better and the horse will better enjoy being ridden by someone who fits them.
Additionally, how you ride and treat your horse is the most important. Riding a horse is a partnership built on trust and communication. Having a good coach can help you as well. Being too dominant and aggressive will only make your horse fear you. Which isn’t always conducive to a healthy working environment?
General Horse Care
The overall health of your horse is important when considering whether or not your horse likes being ridden. A horse that is sick or injured will most likely not like to be ridden.
Make sure your farrier visits every 6-8 weeks. Trimming the hooves and replacing shoes can help with the horse’s comfort. If your horse does not have shoes, it is even more vital you have regular farrier visits. They will ensure whether or not shoes are needed.
Also, vet check-ups are important. Immunizations’ help protect you and the horse from illness. Some owners give the injections themselves, but you can call your vet if you aren’t comfortable.
Additionally, dental care is another essential. A dentist will look at the horse’s teeth and decide if any need to be floated or if there are any other corrections to be made. Ask your equine dentist what the best timing is. For some horses, it’s twice a year while for others, it’s once a year.
So, Does Your Horse Like Being Ridden?
While there is no definitive answer to whether a horse likes being ridden, you can find evidence based on your riding routine.
Most horses seem to enjoy companionship and attention from their riders, but some may find being ridden uncomfortable and even scary. It is up to the individual horse to decide whether they like it.
There are things you can do as a rider to help your horse feel more comfortable while being ridden. Ensuring their tack fits properly and is in good condition as well as your pre and post-ride grooming routine. Additionally, riders should be aware of the horse’s body language. Avoid putting too much pressure on its back or pulling too hard on the reins.
The main key to knowing if your horse likes being ridden is by monitoring how well you take care of your horse.