Get Inspired: How to get into horse riding

Riding student Justice Ratau: ''I feel like a different person''

How do I start?

Hoofrideexternal-link is a great place to find out about local riding schools and information for total beginners.

What is horse riding?

You don't need to own your own horse or pony to start riding, however you do need specialist instruction to find the right horse for you.

Once you have mastered the basics there are a number of equestrian disciplines and equine sports you could specialise in as your confidence, skill and knowledge grows.

You may have seen equestrian sports at the Olympics. Riders compete in dressage, showjumping and eventing.

  • In dressage, the horse and rider perform a set of movements that gives the impression they are dancing together.
  • Showjumping is where horse and rider jump over coloured fences, obstacles and water jumps. The horse and rider with the fastest time and the least amount of faults win.
  • Eventing is a combination of dressage, showjumping and cross country. Cross country is the muddy cousin of showjumping, with solid fences ridden over uneven ground. The aim is to be the horse and rider with the fewest points after completing all elements.

Vaulting is gymnastics on horseback. The horse is led by a handler and kept at a steady rhythm whilst the rider performs movements on top of the horse.

Horse racing is the simply a sport in which horses and their riders take part in races, either on a flat course or over hurdles or fences,

Is it for me?

Whether you are an adrenaline junky or looking for a way to relax and relieve stress, horse riding is a great way to get fit in the great outdoors.

Your riding instructor should provide you with a fitted hard hat and if you decide horse riding is for you, you can invest in your own boots and jodhpurs which are soft trousers designed for riding in.

What to expect when I start?

  • Horse riding is a great workout for your arms, legs and bum and helps build muscle tone and strength.
  • You can burn as many calories trotting on horseback as you can from a lunchtime workout at the gym - walking around the arena can burn 236 calories and just 15 minutes of jumping can burn 140 calories.
  • If you have a disability, horse riding can help improve posture and strength. Riding for the Disabled Association provide support and accessible riding lessons on specialist trained horses.
  • It's an effective form of stress relief as horse riding stimulates the hormone serotonin, a natural mood enhancer.
  • Horse riding naturally appeals to children and is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family together.

To get you in the mood...

Kai's ambition is to be a professional show jumper

Are you inspired to try horse riding? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the activity by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,external-link visiting us on Facebookexternal-link or email us on

All clubs need a chair, secretary and treasurer to help things run smoothly as well as officials, coaches and judges. Whatever role you're interested in, Join Inexternal-link has opportunities to volunteer in your area.