If you have ever had your confidence rattled while riding then I’m sure you have wondered what you can do to feel safer in the saddle. It was certainly a thought that crossed my mind when I began to experience the realities of riding. As a new rider, I didn’t have what I would consider the most ideal training, which is the main reason why I’m such a big advocate for safety when it comes to horses and riding. I learned from experience that there was a lot more to being safe around horses than simply remembering to wear a helmet. 


Experienced riders know that falling off their horse is something that comes with the territory. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t attempt to prevent a dangerous situation, or do our best to prepare for whatever situation we may one day find ourselves in. This is where proper training for you, and your horse, can make a world of difference between a fun, safe ride, or a ride that leaves you wondering when you, and your horse,  decided to join the rodeo. That is why I wanted to share this list of 5 things that you can do to feel safer in the saddle. 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

Benjamin Franklin 


I’m sure you might be thinking, “I thought this blog post was about what you can do to  feel safer in the saddle, not on the ground?” But as one of my favorite trainers Clinton  Anderson says, “The more times you pick yourself up off the ground, the better your  groundwork gets.” There are two types of groundwork exercises that you can do with your horse to gain his respect, and hopefully, help you in preventing a dangerous situation. They are called sensitizing, and desensitizing exercises.  

– Sensitizing exercises help you to gain your horse’s respect and show him you are the leader, by moving his feet. These exercises are designed to get your horse moving, and are especially good for lazier horses who act as if they resent you for even daring to ask them to move their feet.  

– Desensitizing exercises are when you expose your horse to things that spook him, with the goal being that he eventually relaxes, and stands still. Bonus points if he falls asleep!  These exercises are great for high-strung horses that think everything is out to get them.  

By combining both types of exercises you’ll be climbing onto the back of a calmer, and more responsive horse. 

One-Reign Stop 

The one-reign stop is one of my favorite riding tools to feel safer in the saddle! It is exactly what it sounds like, using one reign to pull your horse’s nose to your foot so that your horse comes to a complete stop. It’s best to teach your horse to flex his head and neck from the ground first. Once your horse understands what you are asking him to do on the ground then you can practice flexing at a standstill in the saddle. Flexing as soon as you get on him is also a great way to prevent your horse from walking off while you 

are getting situated in the saddle. Your next step is going to be teaching the one-reign stop at the walk, and from there you can progress to teaching the one-reign stop in all other gaits. The one-reign stop acts similar to an emergency brake and is an extremely helpful tool to be able to shut down behaviors like bucking or bolting. 

Emergency Dismount 

Another great tool to help you feel safer in the saddle is knowing how to emergency dismount. When you are learning how to ride you aren’t going to know how to handle every situation and trying to hang on through it may not be a safe option for you.  Knowing how to emergency dismount is a way to get off quickly if you encounter a  situation with your horse that is more than you can handle. A really great resource that explains why, when, and how to emergency dismount is this video by CRK Training. 

Concentrated Training 

The idea of concentrated training comes from another one of my favorite Clinton  Anderson quotes, “To get a truly broke horse takes three things: long rides, wet saddle  pads, and concentrated training.” The same can be said for the rider – the more horses you ride, and the longer you ride, the better your riding is going to get. With that time and experience comes the ability, and knowledge to handle various situations later on. This is why getting concentrated training time in the saddle with the right trainer, on multiple horses, is key for building confidence in your abilities as a rider. 

Fall Training 

As I said earlier, falling off your horse is something that every experienced rider knows comes with the territory. At some point, you are most likely going to come out of the saddle, and to prevent getting seriously injured it wouldn’t hurt to have some fall training under your belt. I highly recommend checking out the information, and videos, on the  LandSafe website, as well as considering attending one of their clinics for some hands-on fall training and practice! You may not always be able to prevent a fall, but knowing how to fall could help prevent you from being seriously injured if you do come out of the saddle. 

I hope you gained some knowledge from this list of 5 things that you can do to feel safer in the saddle. As they say, knowledge is power; knowing what to do if you encounter a potentially dangerous situation could go a long way in preventing injury to you and your horse. 

Leave us a comment, and tell us what has helped you to feel safer in the saddle!

Love this blog post? We think you will like Getting Back in the Saddle by Casie Bazay.

Brittany Madonia

Hi everyoneI grew up in a small town in New England, and later moved to the Carolinas where my dreams of working with horses became a reality. Not long after that I spent a couple months earning a certificate as a Barn Manager/Professional Groom at the Equine Management Training Center in Axton, VirginiaI have worked in a few places since then, and even though I haven’t found a permanent place to land just yet, I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey! Some of my passions include learning everything I can about horses, dogs, mental health, and a couple foreign languagesI look forward to hanging out with everyone here as we learn and grow together!

September 21, 2022
October 13, 2022