Am I Too Old To Learn To Ride A Horse?

We all have a list of things we want to do before it’s too late but if one of these things is to learn to ride a horse how old is too old? You might be surprised, and pleased, to know that you’re never too old to learn to ride, regardless of whether you’re 30, 40, 50, or even over 80! As long as you’re able to get on the horse you can ride. I once had a lady who decided she wanted to learn to ride and didn’t let anything get in her way, not the fact that she was 75 and certainly not the fact that she was registered blind! She was a true inspiration and if somebody like that can do it then anybody can regardless of their age, or even disability.

Is it difficult to learn to ride a horse?

The simple answer is no it’s not difficult but the longer answer, while coming to the same conclusion is more complicated. It’s easy for a horse rider to say to you that riding is easy and it’s always something I’ve been very cautious to avoid saying. What’s easy for one person takes a lot more practice for another person. Once you’ve mastered the basics then I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not difficult. When you first start it can seem like there’s so much to learn and that you’ll never get the hang of it but believe me if you really want to learn to ride then you will. You just need to practice and keep at it. I know you’ll probably laugh at this but, when I was young and started to learn to ride I couldn’t practice on a horse when I didn’t have a lesson so used my pedal bike to practice instead! I know that you’re not going to get any feedback from a bike but I would practice as much as I could, whether it was my leg position or my posture it all helped. Yes, my friends laughed but I wanted to learn so much that I just carried on.

It's never too late to learn to ride a horse

How long does it take to learn to ride a horse?

As with most things in life you need to practice and the more you practice the quicker you’ll be able to ride out on your own safely. While there’s no such thing as an average person we’ll imagine there is for this example. If you have one hour-long group lesson a week, every week then within two years you’ll be at a standard appropriate to riding out on your without anybody else. That’s not to say you’re doing it wrong if after two years you’ve not reached that level or that you’re a born natural if you’ve reached that level after 6 months. As I say it’s a guide for our fictitious average person. Your instructor will help by giving you regular feedback as to how you’re improving and if there are any areas you need to pay more attention to.

Is it expensive to learn to ride a horse?

The cost of learning to ride will vary on whether you have lessons with a group of other people or private one-to-one lessons. Whether you’re specializing in a particular type of riding (such as dressage) or just general riding will also play a part. Sadly there’s no universal price for riding lessons, nor is there a standard length of the lesson either. That said for a one-hour group lesson you’ll likely pay something between $30 and $70 ($40 – $90 in Canada, £25 – £60 in the UK, and $45 – $100 in Australia) and for a private lesson between $70 and $150 ($90 – $200 (Canada), £60 – £120 (UK) and $100 – $220 (Australia)). Some schools will reduce the cost slightly if you book a block of lessons in advance.

Are group or private riding lessons better?

Group lessons are usually much cheaper than private lessons but the advantage of private lessons is that you have your instructor’s full attention and each lesson is tailored to you and your level. Most people will have group lessons though, in part because they are cheaper than private lessons. Learning to ride a horse isn’t like learning to drive a car and some people prefer to learn at the same time as others. If you want to learn with some friends then group lessons are perfect for this.

If you want to specialize in a particular type of riding, such as dressage or eventing, then you’ll probably find that private lessons with an instructor who’s got experience in the field will help more. 

Does learning to ride a horse hurt?

No horse riding doesn’t hurt at all but when you first start learning to ride, or if you’ve had a long break, you’ll use muscle groups that you don’t normally use. After your first few lessons, you may find that your legs ache a lot but this is normal and will go off after a couple of days, having a warm bath after your lesson will help to stop the muscles from aching so much. 

After a few lessons, your muscles will have become conditioned to horse riding so you will no longer ache. You’ll probably realize after one lesson that your legs don’t ache and haven’t done for a while – congratulations you’re well on the path to becoming a fully-fledged rider now!

Do I need any special equipment before I start to learn to ride a horse?

If you’re not sure whether horse riding is for you and you just want to give it a go first then you’re not going to want to invest in a brand new outfit. That said though a riding hat or jockey skull is a must for beginners in my book. In some countries, it’s a legal requirement but if you are unlucky enough to fall off it’ll help protect your head from injury. Some riding schools will have a collection of hats you could borrow but if you want to have your own then your local tack shop will be able to advise you on the right size for your head.

Footwear wise you want to be wearing sensible boots (or shoes if you don’t have boots) with a slight heel to them. Stilettos and sneakers as well as being a very bad idea are actually dangerous. The reason your footwear should have a small is heel is so that your foot won’t slip through the stirrup. When riding you should have the ball of your foot in the stirrup and your heel pointing downwards, this position will prevent your foot from slipping right through but for new riders, this isn’t a natural way of sitting.

In terms of the type of clothing, you should wear it depends on whether you’re learning to ride English or Western style. If you’re riding English then you’ll want to wear pants or trousers that are snug fitting but not too tight. If they’re too loose then you’ll find that your legs will be pinched by the stirrup leathers. If however, you’re riding Western then those saddles have fenders instead of stirrup leathers so won’t pinch your legs. When it comes to your top you just want something that is comfortable but try to not wear something that will ‘flap’ too much as you don’t want to frighten the horse.

Do I need to have my own horse before I learn to ride?

Absolutely not! You don’t need to have your own horse if you want to learn to ride, riding schools will provide a horse for you to learn on. If you do want to have your own horse though then you definitely can and some schools will even charge a lower fee for lessons if you bring your own horse. If you’re thinking about buying a horse to learn on then you might find this article on buying your first horse helpful.


There you have it, you’re never too old to learn to ride so what are you waiting for! Horse riding is a wonderful thing where you get to make great friends and experiences, it’ll introduce you to the wonderful world of horses and you’ll wonder why you waited to get started. I hope that you thoroughly enjoy it!

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

Recommended products 

Over the years I have tried hundreds of different horsey products, from various blankets and halters to different treats. Some I’ve loved, others I’ve hated but I thought I’d share with you my top all-time favorite products, the ones I never leave the yard without. I’ve included links to the products (which are in no particular order) that I really think are great.

  • Horse Knots by Reference Ready – If you’re like me and enjoy pocket reference guides then you’ll love this knot tying guide. These handy cards can easily fit in your pocket or attach to the saddle for quick reference. They’re waterproof, durable and are color coded to make them easy to follow.
  • Mane ’n Tail Detangler – Even if you never show your horse you’ll need to detangle his tail from time to time (and possibly his mane too) which is always a challenging chore! I’ve found that if I run a little bit of detangler through my horse’s tails every few days it stops them from getting matted up and makes combing them easy, even if they’re coated in mud. I don’t know if I should admit to this or not but it also works wonders on my hair.
  • TAKEKIT Pro clippers – Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different clippers and while some were obviously better than others I found these to be by far the best. They are heavier than a lot of other clippers but for me, that’s a good thing, it makes them feel more sturdy and hardwearing. On top of that they have a range of speeds so are just as good for clipping your horse’s back as they are his face. I also like the fact that they come in a handy carry case but that’s not for everybody. The company that makes them is super good and incredibly helpful too, a real bonus these days. The only thing I wasn’t keen on was the fact that it doesn’t come with any oil, but that’s not a major problem as it’s not difficult to buy lubricant.
  • Shire’s ball feeder – There are so many boredom buster toys out there but I like to use these every day, regardless of whether or not my horses are bored. I find that it helps to encourage my horses to problem solve by rewarding them with treats (or pieces of fruit) but it also mimics their natural grazing behavior which helps to keep them calm and de-stressed.
  • Horse safe mirror – This is a strange one that many people are surprised about but I like to put horse safe mirrors in the trailers as well as in the quarantine stalls. It helps to prevent the feeling of isolation by giving the impression of other horses being around. Being herd animals horses can get extremely stressed when they feel that they’re on their own but with these stick-on mirrors, they believe that at least one other horse is with them.
  • Rectal thermometer – I know this isn’t glamourous at all but it’s vital for your horse’s well-being to be able to check their temperature and a rectal thermometer is the easiest way of doing this which is why I’ve added it to the list.

Shopping lists

I’ve also put together a few shopping lists of essential items that I’ve found helpful over the years. I’ve broken the lists down into different categories rather than put everything in one massive list 😉

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