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  • Writer's pictureJill Ingram

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Ride A Horse?

How long does it take to learn to ride a horse? As a riding instructor for the past 20+ years, this is a question I am asked a lot. Often times it is the very first question I am asked by a new inquiry.

My answer? It depends! It depends on the student's age. Are they a small child? Middle schooler? Adult? It depends on how driven they are. Are they just taking lessons to make mom happy? Or is this their passion? Of course there are a multitude of other factors as well - athletic ability, natural talent, maturity, ability to follow directions and retain information, hours spent in the saddle, and quality of instruction are just a few examples.

You wouldn't expect to be a great guitar player in just a few lessons, would you? Learning to be a great or even good horse rider takes time also. I once was told that it takes about 1,000 hours of time in the saddle to truly feel comfortable with any movement a horse may take. It's the feeling of being "one with the horse". The book "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. If the average student takes one lesson a week and rides 30-45 minutes during that lesson, then they will have about 40 hours of saddle time during one year. That's a lot of lessons to acquire 1,000 hours! The more you ride the better you will get.

At Blue Heron Riding Academy, we have an exclusive program that we call the Learning Levels. The Learning Levels is a set of progressive skills in both riding and horse care. When students demonstrate the knowledge and skills required for a level they are awarded colorful rosettes to celebrate their progress. The Learning Levels is like a roadmap for their horsemanship journey.

So if learning to ride is going to take awhile, what can you expect to learn in the first few years? (Remember, this is a generalization as everyone is different.)

  • Year One- Basic horse care including catching, tying, leading, grooming, and tacking with an emphasis on safety. Riding should focus on walk/trot with good rider position and biomechanics. Many will begin canter work during the first year.

  • Year Two- Expanding on your horse care and management knowledge. Refining walk/trot/canter skills with more accuracy. Becoming confident riding outside of an arena.

  • Year Three- Able to ride independently. You should have enough skills and knowledge to safely lease or own a horse.

Learning to ride horses is a lifetime journey. It's a journey that will take a lot of time, determination, "sweat equity", and a true love for the horse and for the sport of riding.

Are you ready to start your riding journey? Contact us for more information about our lesson programs at

Jill Ingram

Blue Heron Riding Academy

"Teaching more than good lesson at a time."

14,502 views2 comments


suheyla aytac arslan
suheyla aytac arslan
Dec 27, 2022

I am 48 years old. Is it possible for me to learn to ride a horse, if it is possible how long does it take to canter?

Lian Pace
Lian Pace
Apr 09, 2023
Replying to

I am 45. It took me 4 months to start canter. I take 1-hour lesson once a week.

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