Horseback Riding Lessons: Ultimate Guide 2021


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Horseback riding is a pleasurable, relaxing way to deal with daily stress and anxiety.

The horse’s unique evolutionary journey has bestowed it with the ability to positively affect us in surprising ways. Because a horse responds to every move the rider makes,  the rider must shut off the mind and tune into the environment and the animal.

Additionally, there is an entire sports industry that revolves around competitive horseback riding and horse racing. If you are an animal lover and a natural athlete or know someone who is, equestrian sports are exhilarating and challenging.

Whether you are interested in competitive barrel racing or just wish to ride for the joy of it, investing some time and resources in horseback riding lessons is a smart thing to do.

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If you are looking to take horseback riding lessons for competitive horseback riding opportunities in your area, you might be overwhelmed with just how many different categories of competitive horseback riding there are.

Just about every style has its own official organization that sponsors events locally, regionally, and nationally.

Most competitive equine events have different challenges based on the rider’s skill level so that everyone can scratch that competitive itch as their confidence grows.

For anyone who enjoys an excellent physical and mental challenge, equestrian sports are the way to go.   

Based on what style of riding you are attracted to will determine what kind of horse-riding lessons you will invest your time and money.


Most likely, you are familiar with thoroughbred horse racing. Even if we haven’t attended a thoroughbred horse race like the Kentucky Derby in person, you have seen thoroughbred racing featured in films like Seabiscuit and National Velvet.

There are several distinct racing competition styles.

  • Harness Racing: the horse pulls a cart.
  • Chuckwagon Racing: a team of horses tows a loaded chuckwagon.
  • Barrel Racing:  a distinctly Western style of horseback riding competition. Barrel riders race for best time in an arena maneuvering around barrels set in a cloverleaf pattern. Racers compete one at a time, with the fastest time winning.

Driving is a horse racing competition where a team of horses pulls a carriage through a course. Driving includes several events, such as:

  • Dressage: highlights the horse’s training while executing a pattern.
  • Cross Country: the horse pulls a carriage through water and over obstacles, maneuvering around an obstacle course.

Much like the Westminster Dog Show, conformation is where a horse is judged by its breed according to standard. Adolescence and teens often enter conformation contests at state fairs and local rodeos.


This is a competition that highlights the relationship between the handler and the horse. The horse is led by his bridle or halter in a predetermined pattern in the arena.


Vaulting is an exciting sport for riders. It is a moderately dangerous competition as well. The rider is primarily performing gymnastic moves on the horse while it maintains an even gait around the arena.

Usually, the routine is set to music.


This course could be as much as 100 miles long. Only horses that are judged to be fit can compete in this horse race.

Competitive Trail Riding

In competitive trail riding, the horse must demonstrate abilities such as backing up, crossing bridges, opening and closing gates.


Dressage is an English and Western riding style that highlights the relationship between the rider and his or her horse. There is a set of patterns and gaits they much execute. Sometimes, a freestyle routine is set to music.

The judging criteria are:

  • Communication between the horse and rider.
  • Horse’s willingness to submit.
  • Rider’s ability to ride quietly and balanced.

This is a competitive equestrian sport that focuses on a horse’s ability to jump over hurdles.  If a horse knocks over a hurdle, points are deducted from the final score. This is a timed event.

Famed Superman actor Christopher Reeve became a quadriplegic after a tragic accident while jumping his horse.


This is an English style combination course event that includes a dressage test and jumping (cross-country and stadium jumping).  


This is a classic Western event that highlights a horse’s ability to stop quickly, start quickly, and execute patterns. It isn’t uncommon to have a freestyle musical routine during this competition.

Western Pleasure

The Western Pleasure competition category is designed to evaluate a horse’s unique characteristics as a riding companion. The characteristics of a horse that are evaluated are things like manner, gate, responsiveness and disposition.

Rodeo Events

There are many event competitions the make up a rodeo. Many competitions focus on a horse’s ability to control animals such as cattle and sheep.  

Rodeo event categories include:

  • Cutting.
  • Roping, calf wrestling, and penning.

Some rodeo events are individual while others involve pairs or teams of horses and riders. 

Drill Team

Drill team exhibitions are defined by a team of horseback riders performing choreographed routines to music. This is a typical Western-style event that is common at rodeos and special equestrian shows. Trick riding is often a part of a Drill Team show.

Whatever style of competition interests you, having a solid foundation of the fundamentals taught in horseback riding lesson is paramount to your success.

Every example in this article should serve as a gold standard for your research. We have rated these equestrian centers based on the total services they provide, accommodations for beginners, customer feedback, and quality of the training.

Top 3 U.S. Equestrian Centers For Horseback Riding Lessons

Here, I will feature three top-notch equestrian centers that offer horseback riding lessons from three states known for their horseback riding culture: Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.

If you are interested in taking horseback riding lessons, this list should get you thinking about what you are looking for in a local equestrian center.

These are all top-notch, five-out-of-five-star rated U.S. centers for equestrian training. Their services and standards should serve as a guide for you when looking for an equestrian center in your area.

The Cadence Equestrian Center, located in Edmund, Oklahoma, was started 2007 for young riders and adults.  Their mission is to provide horse lovers with a premier hunter jumper equestrian center that includes boarding, training, horseback riding lessons, equestrian camps, and shows.  

Since that time, the Cadence Riding Academy, alongside their Camp Cadence programs, has successfully introduced and trained equestrian riders of all ages and skill levels. They are a USHJA recognized riding academy.

What you can expect from Cadence Equestrian Centers in Oklahoma

  • Top-notch lessons in the fundamentals of riding and horse care 
  • Lessons in recreational or competitive riding  
  • Knowledgeable, professional instructors
  • Ideal programs for children ages 4 and up as well as adults
  • A safe, gentle school horse and all tack and grooming supplies are provided
  • A heated indoor arena and two outdoor arenas for training as well as trails

Prices vary based on skill level and instruction. For example:

  • Intro to Cadence ($ per rider): Includes 30-minute introductory riding lesson required for first-time riders to Cadence — orientation, evaluation, tour and consultation with an instructor. New riders will be assessed and adequately placed into beginner, group, or private riding lessons. 
  • Intro to Cadence Package ($$$ per rider): includes one “Intro to Cadence Lesson” and four additional beginner lessons (30 min, 1-2 riders included).  New students are given the opportunity to establish some of the basics of riding in a private setting before being moved into group or private lessons.
  • Beginner Lessons ($ per rider): 30-minute lessons with 1-2 riders for beginner riders age 4 & up. Designed for brand new riders who want to learn the basics of riding in a safe and encouraging environment.  After new equestrians can master start, stop, steer, and post the trot on the rail, then they may advance to group or private lessons (per the recommendation of the instructor).
  • Group Lessons ($ per rider): 1 hour with 3 or more students. non-jumping or jumping group riding lessons are available.

Private non-jumping lessons are offered at $ per rider for a 30-minute lesson. Jumping lessons are $$ per rider for a thirty-minute private jumping lesson.

The North Texas Equestrian Center is located on 50 acres about 40 miles from Dallas, Texas in the town of Wylie.

Whatever riding discipline interests you, NTEC has a training program that will meet your needs. They offer English horseback riding lessons, dressage riding lessons, as well as boarding for your horse. In addition to boarding horses, NTEC has a stable of horses for show and sale.

Horseback riding lessons are offered to all ages and all skill levels. You will love their school horses. They are gentle giants perfectly tempered for even the most unsure newcomer.

Impressively, NTEC is acknowledged as a United States Equestrian Federation Elite Training Center. They have earned multiple awards from the United States Hunter Jumper Association. 

If your dream is to compete in hunter or jumper competitions, this professional training center will help you reach your highest potential.

Because they offer so many options for horseback riding lessons in many disciplines, you should take a moment to visit their pricing chart based on your particular interests. Overall, the prices for their lessons are very reasonable.

The Platte Ridge Equestrian Center is located in beautiful Evansville, Wyoming.  This equestrian center is a full-care facility that takes pride in giving their patrons and students the best, personalized service available.

Their website boasts, “We are proud to say that we house some of the happiest most confident horses and riders. We do not believe in the typical “beat you down” approach that many training facilities utilize. We teach our students how to strengthen their weaknesses, build confidence, and at the end of it all, have fun!”

Facility features and horseback riding lesson include:

  • Full-care boarding facilities.
  • Short term and long-term boarding plans.
  • English riding lessons.
  • Western-style riding lessons.
  • Jumping lessons.
  • Horse exhibitions.
  • Lessons for children and adults of all skill levels.
  • Horse training and colt starting.
  • Camping.

The fees for horseback riding lessons are as follows:

  • $45.00/hour for new rider evaluation.
  • Private Lesson (beginners only) $ per half-hour lesson.
  • Private Lesson $$ per lesson
  • Group Lesson $ per lesson
  • They offer an eight-lesson package. $$$ All 8 lessons. These are group Lessons.
  • Private Lesson Offsite (under 25 miles) $.
  • Minimum age for beginner lessons is 7 years old. Students that have not ridden a horse before will require an initial private lesson until they are able to ride in a group setting.

Maybe competition horseback riding lessons aren’t on your agenda. That’s fine.

Recreational horseback riding offers benefits to you physically, mentally and emotionally, too.

Going forward, it is best to know how horseback riding will fit into your current lifestyle.  A good place to start is finding an equestrian center in your area that customizes their training based on the student’s riding interests and skill level. Also, look for a center that offers horses as a part of the training.

If you have a son or daughter interested in horseback riding, make sure that the training center is experienced with children.

Do your research — look at online reviews, professional organization memberships, and accreditations.

Horseback Riding Lessons: The Best Investment For You

Horseback riding promotes balance and improves coordination and motor function. Maybe competition horseback riding lessons aren’t on your agenda. That’s fine. Recreational horseback riding offers benefits to you physically, mentally and emotionally, too.

For many riders, a horse is a much-needed connection with nature. Riders find companionship and solace while training with their ponies. In times of great stress, a noble steed can be a quiet friend.

In the beginning, new riders may feel unsure. However, in a short time, riding becomes easier with many more challenges to overcome and opportunities to gain. It does not matter whether you learn to rise the trot or receive high marks in a dressage test, you will undoubtedly feel good about your growth.

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