Are Horses Hurt When You Ride Them

Maria Johnson
• Tuesday, 13 October, 2020
• 9 min read

If youridehorses or are involved in the horse world, you will inevitably face whether it is cruel to ride horses. It can make you or others really start to question the ethical value of horse riding, but the answer is not as clear-cut as many believe.

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Inexperienced riders and lack of medical care can potentially make riding cruel to the involved horses. With the right education, experience, and care, riders can help keep horseback riding safe and enjoyable for themselves and their horses.

Horses that are suffering from back or leg problems may experience some pain when being ridden. Horses that are experiencing pain will show signs of their discomfort such as limping, bucking, and agitation.

Horses that clearly do not like to be ridden can effortlessly throw their riders off by bucking, rearing up or by simply cutting out from underneath them. Horses must be saddled correctly with ride gear to make sure they do not suffer injuries, rashes or, sores.

Work with an experienced rider to learn the proper way to saddle and prepare a horse for riding. Occasionally, unavoidable accidents can happen, and horses can experience muscle strains or sprains when being ridden.

You should transition into more extraneous riding slowly so that you help them loosen up their muscles, preventing injury. Ethics deals with the moral reasoning that persuades us to act a certain way.

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Overexertion, muscle strains and sprains, ligament tears, and lameness can all occur in horses that are ridden regularly by impatient or untrained riders. Horses that are handled by an inexperienced rider can develop trust issues, anxiety, and fear as well.

Many horses thoroughly seem to enjoy participating in riding sports including barrel racing, pole bending, sorting, team penning, and roping. Use a lunge line or walker before riding or walk your horse slowly when you first get on.

Hoof issues can lead to serious leg problems for horses if they are not taken care of quickly. Removing dirt and debris can keep your horse’s hooves dry and healthy.

All equine chiropractic services should be done in conjunction with a veterinarian to keep your horse safe and healthy. If a horse is walking strangely or limping, let them rest and if they do not improve soon, get them to a veterinarian before it gets worse.

Learning basic things like pad and saddle placement can help keep your horse safe and free of pain during rides. True equestrians listen to their horses, care for them like they would their own children, and do whatever is needed to keep their horse-riding pain and cruelty-free.

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It’s an age-old question all horseback riders have wondered a time or two: do horses like to be ridden? Good equestrians don’t just enjoy riding horses, they also truly love and care about the well-being of the animal.

Then, there are other horses that can be ridden bareback, with no bridle over large fences with ease and grace. Instantly the incredibly talented and gentle rider Alicia Burton comes to mind.

They can find some level of enjoyment in the sport, but that all depends on the skill and patience of the rider, as well as the respect they have for the horse. When the right partnership forms, horses and humans can make great friends who have worlds of fun together.

Horse is sound and does not have any existing injuries, this includes a clean saddle area with no sores. Don’t bounce around too much, try and uphold your weight so that you sit evenly in the saddle and land gently on your horse’s back when posting.

That doesn’t mean your horse won’t try to escape the arena in hopes of going back to their stall for some hay. Watch their ears, they should fluctuate between perched forward-looking ahead and around at their surroundings, to slightly flexed back listening to your aids.

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Perhaps the saddle is pinching, or maybe they’ve had a lot of heavy-handed riders and are fearful you ’ll do more of the same. They’ll pin their ears, buck, resist the bit, rear, or bolt in protest.

Inexperienced riders are probably the least fun to lug around because they pull on the mouth, flop around, don’t distribute their weight evenly, kick too much, and so forth. Yet, even some of the biggest names in professional riding can have unhappy horses out in the show ring.

Therefore, rider skill level doesn’t always dictate if the horse under saddle is happy or not. A horse regularly used for trail rides by different people may tolerate horseback riders more so than enjoy them.

Just like someday going to work isn’t so bad and other days you ’re counting down the hours till you can leave. It IS cruel to beat your horse, push them when they are sore or hurt, or use inconsistently rough aids.

It is NOT cruel to ride your horse with soft aids, show them lots of praise whenever they do something well, and kindly correct them when they act poorly. After all, I have known too many horses who love human contact, enjoy going out for rides, and are overall happy-go-lucky creatures living a quality life.

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Horses trained with gentle aids and positive reinforcement learn to respond to slight movements and pressure. Horses trained and handled with a heavy hand develop vices, like a hard mouth that resist even the harshest (evilest) of bits.

Side note: If you purchase a horse that is used to firm aids, you ’re in an entirely different arena, and it’s very hard to reverse the damage done. Not all hope is lost; I’ve seen many trainers work miracles on horses that have been poorly trained with a heavy hand.

Show your horse kindness and respect through praise, gentle encouragement, and lots of treats after every ride. Horse thoughts are fluid and fluctuate throughout the ride depending on what’s going on, how well you hold their attention, and if outside factors are distracting or scaring them.

Never has it been easier for horse owners and lovers to study these animals. Over the past decade or so there have been an increasing number of scientific and ethological studies available to help us answer many questions that arise in our modern relationships with horses.

There is so much free information, sometimes it’s simply a matter of sorting through and finding reliable sources. The following is one of the best current videos presenting some solid scientific information in only 5 minutes.

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Rick Jay September 8, 2006, 2:53am #2 solo: Were horses genetically designed to carry a rider? Sure they are strong but carrying 200 pounds on your back for hours on end has to put a strain somewhere.

Do horses suffer from back or joint fatigue from carrying a person or a pack for an extended period? Horses weren’t originally designed to carry a rider, but the ones we’ve been selectively breeding for 5000 years sure are.

Whatnot September 8, 2006, 3:10am #3 Our horses can accommodate a riders weight of 180 lbs or less for riding lessons. I could carry 30-35 pounds around on my back for quite a while, as long as it wasn’t all bouncy and wriggling.

Horses can develop “duchy” backs, but saddle fit is probably more important than the weight of the rider, as long as we aren’t talking about someone tremendously heavy. A badly fitting saddle, a bunched up NUMA (saddle pad), an inexperiences' rider who’s never been taught how to sit properly , an experienced rider who can’t “carry” themselves properly can all cause problems.

I didn’t understand it completely, (I wasn’t an expert by any means-- I just enjoyed riding the horses) but he told me that you have to wait until a horse is a certain age or you ’ll damage its back by putting a rider on them. That horse under Wilford Briley in the commercial on TV didn’t look happy.

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That horse under Wilford Briley in the commercial on TV didn’t look happy. So that your riders weren’t knocked off their horses you braced them with seats and leg hooks.

If you wanted horses that could take the redirected force of the hits you needed to breed them and house and feed them. My own Thoroughbred has had back problems, both primary from impingement of the dorsal spinors processes (“kissing spines”) and secondary to hock arthritis.

Fortunately, injections of corticosteroids resolved the inflammatory reactions and relieved his pain. So that your riders weren’t knocked off their horses you braced them with seats and leg hooks.

For most of the hundreds of years that horses were used in war, ‘leg hooks’ (I presume you mean stirrups) had not been invented yet. The major advantage of horse-mounted Calvary through most history was that the horses could get the troops to the battle location faster, fresher (less tired) and could carry more supplies.

A ‘real-time video’ of this is available in the Bayeux Tapestry, where it depicts the 1066 conquest of England by the Normans. This technological advantage may be a partial reason the Normans won the battle of Hastings.

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EddyTeddyFreddy: My own Thoroughbred has had back problems, both primary from impingement of the dorsal spinors processes (“kissing spines”) My WAG is that it’s no more common than before but is better understood and diagnosed as medical science in general has advanced.

Dunno if you ’ve heard of a fellow named Jack Meager, the father of modern equine massage therapy. He could massage the muscle spasms out of a horse that appeared lame, say, in its left front and reveal that the source of the problem was, say, in the right rear, and that the horse’s apparent lameness came from compensating for the underlying problem.

That’s why Icelandic, Arabian and some Quarter Horses are suited to carry higher weights. A loose, crooked or imbalanced rider continually throws the horse off balance and thus makes his work more difficult.

He could massage the muscle spasms out of a horse that appeared lame, say, in its left front and reveal that the source of the problem was, say, in the right rear, and that the horse’s apparent lameness came from compensating for the underlying problem.

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