Does riding as a child make you a better rider


With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
or just more confident.

I did not ride as a child I got on my very first 4 legged beast as a 21 year old having no love or even liking of horses. It was a birthday present from my then boyfriend to this day I still do not know why as I never once mentioned that it was something I ever wanted to do.

This meant that I never got that brave pill, that I will get on anything as I am unbreakable vibe that kids seem to have.

It was meant that I had no bad habits that needed to be changed as an adult and also that ability to listen to RI's instead of messing around and thinking I know best.

But I here about people that where all but born in the saddle went to pony club or just had summer of wild fun and I feel I missed out.

I also wonder if my life would have taken a different path as I am often told by others that I have a way with horses when riding them and no I know that I am actually an OK rider would of riding younger made me that much better have I missed out?


Apr 29, 2002
I rode as a child but basically had to relearn as an adult as ideas of riding changed dramatically as in back then when I learned in the 1950/60s most riding was 'get on, stay on and go out hacking', in my case it would have been better to start later.

I think learning as a teenager/young adult is easier in many ways as you say but learning later in life brings other issues such as a sense of responsibility to take care of yourself to look after your family.


Well-Known Member
Jun 21, 2000
think learning as a teenager/young adult is easier in many ways as you say but learning later in life brings other issues such as a sense of responsibility to take care of yourself to look after your family.



Grumpy old nag
Aug 5, 2009
No I dont think it does really. I have ridden since the year dot and now I am pretty crap TBH!:giggle: I think that perhaps you acquire a good 'seat' and stick ability if you start out as a toddler and that probably lasts for a good many years. If you start later in life then your star will probably be ascending whilst the life time riders amongst us will be on the decline due to old age, injury and general can't be bothered with all the fancy stuff attitude.:giggle:

But at the end of the day tis like everything, it is all just a big loop back to the cradle and the nearer we get to the latter end of the loop the less able and competent we become. In my case anyway, I am sure there are lots of older riders who would disagree with me and still feel they are as great as they were in their younger days. But I am most definitely NOT!:eek:


Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
You can be good either way. Think its more about the time you spend in the saddle and what you do, than when you start.

For example a child who rides fortnightly in lessons at a maybe not great riding school, not going to progress that fast

And then an adult who has never sat on a horse, but suddenly rides every day and has frequent lessons etc may become good very quickly

After a week the child is still probably going to be better than the adult, but give it a couple of months the adult will probably be excelling the child.


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
You have missed out on the fun. One RI was quite cross with me one summer afternoon when I said I wanted a happy girl with pony ride through the fields and woods - He said he was there to do serious teaching and if I didnt want that, I was wasting his time. If you have had a very proper rider education as an adult then you have missed out.
But I think you are a high achiever and like to do things right, so fun and just messing about and bare back might not be be something you would enjoy.


Active Member
Dec 30, 2006
I think that as a parent, it's my job to give my child as many different experiences as is possible to open her eyes to the world.

I know that as an adult, I'm much more fearful, reticent, considered etc about learning new skills.

So I've found it no great shakes to return to things I had experience of as a child, but if I have to Lear something new I'm not as open to it.

They say that a child benefits in weaning from getting as many flavours introduced to it as is possible and I think that's true of most things in life.

No, I don't necessarily think that riding as a child makes you a better rider, but possibly that as a returner to riding I was more relaxed and open to riding and these are very important in our riding.


Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
I don't think the 'brave pill' necessarily lasts into adulthood anyway lol.

I rode in riding schools as a child and we did learn to 'stick on' as EML says and have fun as Skib points out. My best friend had a pony and we used to build jumps out of all sorts in her paddock and she'd let me have a play over them on her pony. We jumped logs out hacking, went up and down railway embankments etc. Nowadays I'd have to inspect each obstacle with my Health and Safety hat on before I'd let Raf go anywhere near it!

After a long break from riding until I started again in my 40's, I now find that my position is terrible and my muscles seem to have set themselves in this crap position. I'm having to unlearn all my old techniques and often feel I'm just too old. I once complained to my RI that I was too old to get my legs into a certain position. She replied that I was only the same age as her, but the difference is that she has been riding all her life and already has the muscles in place. I'm starting from scratch, or possibly even worse because I've already learned to ride in a chair seat, albeit many years ago. OH on the other hand didn't ride at all until he got Jack a couple of years ago. He has a smashing position because he was taught it from the word go. Unfortunately it hasn't stopped him falling off when Jack stumbled a couple of times.

I remember when I first started riding again the instructor shouting 'left leg on!' My brain shouted 'left leg on!' to my left leg, but my left leg was completely incapable of carrying out the instruction and nothing happened. I can do it now, but it took a good year or two.


Apr 29, 2002
In my case anyway, I am sure there are lots of older riders who would disagree with me and still feel they are as great as they were in their younger days. But I am most definitely NOT!:eek:

I think one of the main problems of riding all your life is that you look back on what you have done and are more frustrated by what you cannot now do than someone who has not ridden for so long.

I have reached what I call 'Brain vv body watershed'. My brain knows what I need to do in any circumstance ( hence why I can still teach!) but my body no longer obeys or responds so slowly the moment has passed.

I used to compete at a reasonably high level both in SJ and dressage, now I would just about make a good job of a walk and trot test and a course of X poles!!


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
I learnt to ride as a kid, I still have fun even as an adult-my trip to camp being a good example.


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
I think eml is right. I contrast the things I have totally loved doing with the regrets of people who rode well when young. But note the words compete and test. I don't compete. I don't do tests. And that goes for everything in my life. Not just riding.
It could be argued that people who already ride Western, do NH or who hunt are able to ride far longer and with more infirmities than those who compete.But it is hard for those already expert to re-learn new ways.
One significant problem is that prizes and passing tests reward and give a distinction to the rider. Contrast that to my amazing time on horses when it is the horse who astonishes people by what it will do for me.

The truth is that I was given my share because at my lowest point after my op, I told her I simply could nt ride her. She understood and a few seconds later gave me such a floating walk canter transition, unsolicited that my RI handed her over to me.
When I went for my recent lessons I had to explain after the assessment that I wasn't as good a rider as it might appear. Just that the horse had done all the things, I had no idea how.
If you look at accounts of horsemen who have ridden into old age you will see that it is all in the mind. All they did was to sit and think. Mark Rashid has written about the way he needed to change both his life style and his riding in middle age. But simply to continue. Not to shine. After all if you have almost died, you feel blessed simply to be alive. You don't compare yourself to fellow competitors who want the rosette. You compare yourself to contemporaries who have died.
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New Member
Mar 23, 2012
Gateway to europe
I don't think it makes much difference although learning as a child does have its advantages, falling off doesn't hurt for one thing.

I tend to believe good riders are born and not made, so the age you go into it doesn't really count except for the obvious physical advantages.


Well-Known Member
Feb 20, 2000
Dorset, UK
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With me, it's been the other way round; when I was a child I rode at a riding-school, and I think that gave me an understanding of how horses are, how they smell and feel and the sort of things they do and don't do. I also read books and books and books about horses, and I'm glad of all that; it's provided a sort of background for my horsey life as an adult.

But I was a nervous rider and scared of most things; it was only when I returned to riding as an adult, in my forties, that I finally gained some confidence, after buying my first pony, a common little cob called Tristan who was to me like all the horses in the world rolled into one. I started competing at the local riding school - not so much out of a desire to be "better" than other people, but because it was so good doing things together with a horse and wonderful when together you could do something well, even if it was only a handy pony course, or a round of 2 ft jumps... It was fun, too, to be out with other horses and their people.

Even then, I think I was riding better and more confidently than I had as a child; much later, after i bought Hebe and met my wonderful RI, I began a new journey of re-learning from the ground up how to ride and how to communicate with a horse. That has taken years, because it's hard to learn new things when you're old, and it takes body and brain much longer to acquire new habits when you have years of old habits to overcome. And even the years of riding not brilliantly still leave you with instinctive reactions that help when everything goes pear-shaped - even if they don't always stop you from falling off, they've taught you to relax on the way down...

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
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It all depends if you were taught properly as a child or not. I have been riding since I was 5, but I was never really taught properly and got into so many bad habits they have taken years to sort out.

I am a nervous rider now, just as I always have been. The 'brave' child never emerged within me!


Active Member
Mar 29, 2007
I've always thought I would be a better (and certainly a braver) rider if I had ridden as a child. As it is, I didn't start until I was 60 (it was a lifelong dream to learn to ride) and I've been riding for 6 years now. I don't compete but I do take my riding seriously and always strive to improve - in terms of position, subtle aids, smooth transitions etc. Having survived 3 falls since starting to ride, I'm more confident now - but certainly not a gung-ho daredevil rider!


Well-Known Member
Sep 14, 2009
Having ridden as a child and broken ponies in, and competed, it was a massive disappointment to me when I had a break from riding and then returned that I actually had nerves!!!

I learned stickability as a child. You fell off lots and it never really bothered you, but you learned to stay on, riding schools made you ride without stirrups A LOT, which was good for your seat, but two years ago I started having lessons again after the last lessons which were 25 years ago .................... and its all changed. I remember that gripping with your knee was all important - not anymore and that is just one for instance.

I no longer grip with my knee, but as my RI said, if I get into a tricky situation and need to grip with my knee I will automatically, and she was right.

So, I think probably it is about and about really.

What I would say is that as a child, doing pony club, and going to shows, and jumping and competing, spending whole days at the yard, having hose pipe fights (because in those days summers were always hot!), swimming horses in the river etc. is a magical thing. The smell of hoof oil still produces butterflies in me, because we only ever used it before we went to shows, and my new YO said exactly the same thing the other day!!!

But I don't think it makes you any better or any braver. I think age makes you more nervous - in fact a young friend of mine who is very bright was working at a racing yard when I had some horses from there, and I remember telling her, that at her age, doing that was fine, but when she got to 40, dealing with breakers and nutters was not what she would want to do. She is now 24/26 ish, is doing a law degree and told me a couple of weeks ago that what I had told her is spot on!!

So no, riding from a tiny tot may give you more experience and lovely memories, but no more guts or ability!!


Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2009
West Mids
Nah I don't think it makes you a better rider....all down to the individual...

BUT im so glad I have the opportunity to ride as child, I had so much fun it was the best time. We had no fears or worries, just got to have as much fun as possible!!

Although now as an adult I miss being able to be so care free and worry free like I was back then! :redcarded: I miss falling off and finding it hilarious!!
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