It’s never too late to rekindle your love of horses. If you’re thinking about getting back into the saddle after some time away, you’re not alone – over half of current riders have chosen to take a prolonged period of time out of the saddle at some point, so you're in good company.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve all but forgotten how ride or you’ve just taken a short break, there’s a place to get back in the saddle at whatever level you want.
Horse riding is a brilliant way to socialise, learn new skills and boost your sense of wellbeing. While riding again may feel daunting, with the right horse and support to give you confidence, it's amazing how quickly you'll get going again.
The best place to start back is at a riding centre because they’ll be able to match you to the right horse or pony for your height, weight and riding experience, and you’ll be in a safe environment. We recommend that you look for a riding centre approved by one of British Equestrian’s Member Bodies – Association of British Riding Schools, British Horse Society, Pony Club or Riding for the Disabled Association – and these are listed on our Find a Riding Centre tool.
When you call to book a lesson, be honest about your riding ability because it will make for a better match. Have a think about your goals and where you want to get to – maybe you just want a reminder of what it's like to be in the saddle, or you want to get to the point where you can own, loan or share a horse. Maybe you have a specific goal, such as jumping again or going for a gallop along a beach. This will help the riding centre tailor your lessons to you.
Make sure you don’t push yourself too hard to start with – riding uses muscles that you don’t often use, especially in your back, thighs and legs, and you may not still have the strength that you had last time you were in the saddle. Don’t be surprised if you feel sore after your first session.
There are lots of adults getting back into riding together at riding centres. Many of the centres approved by the Association of British Riding Schools and the British Horse Society have a structured series of lessons for adults to learn together, which take you right back to basics to ensure you have the grounding to progress. Look out for courses called Take Back the Reins, Rusty Riders or Adult Returners. Some even mix their sessions with meals, such as Ride and Dine or a drink, too – Ride and Wine! No matter what these courses are called, you can all learn as a group together. Many centres will book you in for an assessment lesson first to check your ability and confidence, before putting you into a group lesson.
If you want to get back to riding quickly, sometimes private one-to-one or semi-private lessons may be good for you. Enquire with the riding centre when you give them a call to book.
You can get back to riding no matter what your age is, and most riding centres cater for children and young people. Pony Club Centres host Pony Club activities for children and young people without their own ponies, with activities including rallies and camps, as well as group training and assessment on horse care and riding.
Horse riding is one of the most accessible sports for disabled people or those with a long-term health condition – nearly a quarter of equestrian participants say they have a disability. However, you may want specialist sessions, which are offered by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). There are over 500 RDA groups within the UK, which can be found using the Find a Riding Centre tool.
There are also over 50 riding centres in the UK with Accessibility Mark accreditation that are able to offer sessions to disabled riders. Each accredited centre has been through training with experienced RDA coaches to ensure they're able to meet the high standards required by the RDA. Once centres have gained the Accessibility Mark status, they're offered continuous support from the RDA to ensure they provide you with a fantastic service whatever your level of riding.
Opportunities to take your riding further may be offered by the riding centre – some offer part -loans or shares of riding centre horses and ponies a few days a week. This simulates the benefits of having your own horse, so you get to know your horse and build a bond, but without the risks and responsibilities of having your own. If you want to do this, it may be worth finding a riding centre that offers it when you start back with your lessons.
Others riding centres provide opportunities to compete on their horses or take part in other horse sports such as horseball. Most riding centres offer training in horse care and management, which is essential knowledge to have before taking on a loan or private share of a horse, or purchasing your own.