Whether you're interested in Western- or English-style horseback riding, some simple information can help you learn to ride a horse fast.
Step 1: Outfit yourself Dress appropriately in well-fitting, sturdy shoes with a minimal heel, long pants that are comfortable but not too loose, and a riding helmet that fits your head.
Step 2: Gear up Outfit your horse with the right gear, or tack, including a bit, a bridle, a halter, reins, and a saddle. Use the appropriate saddle for your riding style: English riding requires a lightweight saddle with a shallow seat and no horn, while Western riding uses a heavy saddle with a deep seat and a horn.
TIP: It's best to approach a horse at its shoulder -- never approach from behind.
Step 3: Mount your horse Holding the end of the reins in your left hand, place your left foot in the left stirrup, grab the saddle's pommel or horn with your right hand, and spring upward. Swing your right leg up and over the back of the horse and land in the saddle as gently as possible.
TIP: Use a mounting block or a friend to help you mount your horse as you're learning.
Step 4: Prepare to ride Sit upright in the saddle with your legs flat against the horse. Keep a straight line extending from your ear to your heel, gripping the reins only as firmly as you need to.
Step 5: Start riding Squeeze the horse with both heels, and say, "Walk," to start going. Keep your chin up and look forward. Move up and down in the saddle gently, staying in sync with the horse's rhythm. Once the horse is moving, relax the pressure on the reins and in your calves. Repeat to move faster.
Step 6: Move with the horse Press your left calf into the horse to turn right and your right calf to turn left. Slow down by briefly squeezing your thighs against the horse and saying, "Whoa." Stop the horse by pulling back on the reins.
TIP: Don't yell instructions or pull strongly on the reins, as this may cause your horse to rear back.
Step 7: Dismount Hold the reins in your left hand, lean forward, grab the saddle's pommel or horn with your right, and take your feet out of the stirrups. Swing your right leg over the horse and bend your knees as you land to soften your impact and help keep your legs fresh for your next ride.
FACT: The horse that played Mr. Ed on the 1960s TV sitcom retired to a ranch in Burbank, California after the show's run ended, where his costar, Alan Young, rode him every morning.