Do Horses Like To Be Ridden?

If you have ever asked yourself “do horses like to be ridden?”, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about riding a horse! 

The well-being of horses is the main reason why people love to own them. Horses can be loyal, affectionate, and easy-going – but only if you train them and treat them properly. 

If you’re a horse owner, odds are you’ve had multiple doubts about the wellbeing of your horse. It’s kind of like being a parent to a child because all you want is the best for them. Everyone who has ever ridden a horse will admit that it’s so much fun to ride them, but whether horses like to be ridden themselves is a bit of an unanswered question. 

The last thing you want is to ride a horse that isn’t enjoying the weight of a human on its back. You don’t want to cause the horse any unjustified pain, nor do you want the horse to throw you off or become aggressive because they don’t want to be ridden. This is why it is so important to train your horse properly to create a bond of trust. 

Do Horses Like To Be Ridden?

Horses have existed on this planet for 55 million years. After millions of years of evolution, the majority of horses are domesticated (or at least feral) animals. This means that domestication has become a compound of their biology, which is why most horse breeds are fairly easy to train. In the majority of cases, horses genuinely enjoy being obedient and learning. 

Of course, this can only be said for horses who are trained by the right owner. Some owners might not click with some horses, but luckily enough, horses show the results of their training. If they haven’t been trained thoroughly (or a bond has not been built), they will misbehave and be disobedient.

If a strong emotional and physical bond has been built between the owner and the horse. Then the horse will respond with obedience and patience. 

This means that if a bond has been built, then we can assume that horses genuinely like to be ridden. A lot of owners will say how their horses get excited when their owner comes to see them. It’s also common for a horse to act like a dog who has just been told “walkies”. They get tacked up because they know it’s time to be ridden. 

Do Horses Feel Pain When Ridden?

So, if we can assume that the majority of horses like to be ridden. Surely that means they can’t feel pain when ridden, right? Unfortunately, that’s wrong. 

While it’s the statement that no horse owner wants to hear. It is inevitable that horses will experience pain from being ridden at some point in their lives. Sure, horses have been domesticated for centuries. This doesn’t mean that they are meant to be ridden every single day.

Every horse will have their own tolerances to weight. If these tolerances are mishandled (for example, if you consistently ride a horse that cannot withstand your weight), then it’s likely that they will experience pain. This pain is generally in the back or legs. 

It’s also very common for horses to develop pain as a result of age. The longer they are ridden for and the older they get, the higher the risk of arthritis and other injuries. These can cause consistent pain for a horse, which is when it is safer and kinder to stop riding them. 

However, in most cases, young horses are the healthiest to ride. You’ve just got to keep an eye out for any possible injuries. Horses can be notoriously difficult to read if they are in pain. This also doesn’t mean you should stop riding them altogether. Riding and exercising a horse helps to improve and strengthen their muscles. This in turn supports their joints and bones to prevent pain. 

Does Riding Damage A Horse’s Back?

Like we said, it is unfortunately common for a horse to develop pain in their back or legs when they have been ridden for years and years. However, there is a particular type of riding that is proven to be damaging to a horse’s back – bareback riding. 

According to a study using pressure-sensitive mats, horses feel more pain from people riding them bareback, which means without a saddle. While this might sound a bit ironic to some beginners who might assume that saddles are damaging to a horse, it’s actually the other way around. Saddles are designed to be comfortable for both the rider and the horse because their backs aren’t designed to hold a human.

The pressure-sensitive mats used in the study proved that horses feel pain and develop tissue damage due to the intensity of a human directly on their back. 

A saddle however, evenly distributes the impact of a human over the horse’s back, which significantly lessens the pain. 

Why Do Horses Allow Us To Ride Them?

The main reason why horses allow us to ride them is because of the bond of unconditional love and forgiveness that they create with people. This bond isn’t necessarily exclusive between their owners – it’s with other people as well.

With horses who have been trained to be ridden by multiple people (such as riding school horses), they are tolerant and patient with riders of all ages, sizes, and skill levels. If they don’t enjoy being ridden, they will make it clear that they don’t want a human riding them that day.

Another reason why horses allow us to ride them is because they have been domesticated for centuries, so they have evolved to tolerate human riders. 


To put it simply – yes, in most cases horses like to be ridden. If a bond has been formed between the horse and its owner, and if the horse has been trained to tolerate and be patient with a variety of riders, then they will genuinely enjoy riding!