What is my horse riding experience level?

It can be daunting to book a horse riding holiday without being a super confident rider, but do not let that stop you! There are more than enough horse riding trails that are available for all experience levels. It is however very important to be honest and clear about your experience level so you and the other travelers on the horse riding trip are happy and comfortable. In this blog post you’ll read all about how to rate your riding experience level and how to inform the people you’re booking with about this appropriately, so that you can fully enjoy your horse riding adventures around the world! 

This article contains links, some of which are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I earn a commission which allows me to fund this blog. I only post links of products and services I have used and enjoyed and that have truly benefited me on my travels!

Before we start going into a bit more detail, below you can find a quick description of beginner, intermediate and experienced riding levels. Please do keep in mind that it is not enough to just use one word to describe your experience level. The definition differs depending on what country and discipline you are going to be horse riding in. The descriptions below will help you and you will find examples of how to properly communicate your horse riding experience level to the people you’re booking your trip with.  

white thoroughbred horse and rider bareback in between flowers in south africa
Riding in the Drakensberg is also suitable for beginners! 
Photo by Lulu Black

Also read: ultimate horse riding holiday in South Africa - big 5, mountains and beach

First Timer

You are a bit nervous around horses and you have either never ridden one or just once or twice in a walk!  However, you’d love to learn and really want to start getting confident around them. You are interested in learning to ride. 

Beginner

You haven’t been riding for very long and are still learning lots with every lesson that you take. You can walk and do a bit of trot, but not confidently. You ride the easy horses and need guidance while riding. You would love to ride more!  

Intermediate

You have been riding for a little while, you can walk, trot and canter. You’re quite confident on the easy horses but not on all horses - especially not the more forward and sensitive horses. You have tried a gallop once or twice but aren’t comfortable in a gallop just yet.  

Also read: how to prepare for your first horse riding holiday - tips and packing list!

Experienced

You have been riding for years. Walk, trot, canter and gallop is absolutely no problem for you. You’re confident on all types of horses and adapt to different horses quickly. Fast paced rides are no problem at all and you’re riding fit, full day rides with lots of galloping are totally doable for you.  

grey safari horse and rider in a reserve in Zimbabwe watching giraffe come by
In Zimbabwe, even first timers and beginners get a chance to do a short ride through a wildlife conservancy!
Photo by Judy Travers

Also read: horse riding with wildlife in Zimbabwe

How to book your horse riding holiday

Now that you you have learnt about the experience level definitions, it’s important to explain yours in a bit more detail to whoever you’re booking your horse riding trip with. Just saying that you are a first timer, beginner, intermediate or experienced rider is not enough if you’d like to enjoy your riding holiday. It often happens that people have different definitions for these terms so to avoid confusion it’s important to elaborate.

A good example of a detailed description of a beginner rider would be the following: 

I am a beginner and comfortable in a walk. I am learning to trot and am not quite confident yet but able to follow the horse’s movements. I have done a few canters but still find it difficult. 

Or: 

I am a beginner, I can do a bit of walk, trot and canter but it feels scary. I do not feel comfortable, however am able to do it. I want to feel safe on this ride. 

This will give someone a lot of insight about which group to put you in, and if you possibly need to take a few more lessons beforehand. This way there will be no surprises for you and for the people taking you out riding and you’ll have a lovely time. It also indicates how much and what kind of guidance you need, and which horse the guides must put you on. 

An example of an intermediate rider would be: 

I am an intermediate rider and comfortable in a walk, trot and canter. I have been riding a few different horses, but do not feel comfortable on horses that are very forward going. I would like to ride a horse that is very well behaved and is easy to ride. I have not galloped before but would (or would not!) like to try. 

An example of an experienced rider could be the following: 

I am an experienced rider and have been riding for 18 years, on different horses. I am comfortable in all paces and on all types of horses. I prefer a forward going and sensitive horse. 

Or:

I am an experienced rider and have been riding for 10 years, however I have not been riding very often in the last 2 years. I am comfortable in all paces but would like an easy horse to get back into riding with. 

If you make sure to phrase your experience level like this, everyone will feel happy and comfortable with the horse given to them. If you’re still unsure about your experience level, please do not hesitate to reach out and I would be more than happy to help you find a suitable ride! Hooves Around the World’s goal is to make sure everyone can go riding, no matter your experience, as long as you have a love for horses. 

Also read: planning, booking and paying for your horse riding holiday abroad

How to get more experience horse riding

If you are currently a beginner but would love to join an intermediate ride, you can! This also goes for intermediate to experienced. If you feel like you are close to the next experience level,  you can take some lessons and focus on the little things you need to improve. However, if you would like to make a big step in riding, are a bit nervous about doing an extreme adventure ride for the first time, or about riding in a different discipline, I can help! I am always on the move to ride horses around the world and love traveling around to help people's dreams come true. I have been designing an adventure riding masterclass. If you are interested in learning anything about adventure riding or horse riding in general for your first or next trip, do not hesitate to contact me. I fly out to any country to give masterclasses from 5 days to 3 weeks long! Contact me to learn more and discuss options.

appaloosa horse in namibia
Beautiful appaloosa horse Imvula and I in Namibia
Photo by Annika Funke

Also read: horse riding in Wales

What happens if I get my horse riding experience level wrong? How can I avoid this?

It would be a real shame to get your experience level wrong and have a less amazing experience on your trip than you could have had. If you are nervous about this happening, the best thing to do is to speak to the person you’re booking with. They can ask you all appropriate questions to make sure you have the time of your life. It avoids situations where you end up riding horses you cannot handle or with people that you cannot keep up with. As long as we are all honest, we will all be happy adventure riders! 

You can find all Hooves Around the World rides here and there are rides available that are suitable for all experience levels! 

If you do still have any questions or would like help with booking your dream horse holiday, don’t be shy and contact me here, or on Instagram! Subscribe to my newsletter below to stay up to date on new rides and more. Please share this post with your friends that want to learn what their riding experience level is!

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