How to get your significant other in the saddle

Johnny and Moe trotting.

How do you get your riding-averse significant other to saddle up and join you for a ride? Just follow these 10 easy steps!

Johnny and Moe trotting.


  1. Spend all your free time at the barn. You probably do this anyway, but you’ve really got to hammer home that the horse is #1 in this relationship. If S.O. wants to hang out, they’re going to have to come to the stable.
  2. Desensitize. While your S.O. is at the barn, you’ll want to start desensitizing them. This is especially necessary if your S.O. has fears about 1,000+ pound prey animals with an excellent flight response. As with your horse, start slowly and work your way up. Start by having them groom the ancient, quiet lesson horse who sleeps in the crossties and before you know it, they’ll be picking the hooves of the spastic three year old. Bonus points if you can find a horse who adorably mugs for treats; everyone is universally delighted about feeding an appreciative animal.
  3. Communicate your wishes. Clear communication is key for every relationship. It’s imperative to express to your S.O. how important it is to you for them to be involved with your equestrian life. You may have to be patient and repeat yourself (just like with your horse!). I find that asking, “Do you want to come ride?” approximately once a month for six years is an effective strategy. If you’re initially met with resistance, stay strong and continue to ask the question as if you have never received a negative response.
  4. Make them think it was their idea. Mention how nice it would be to see the Grand Canyon, or Iceland, or Costa Rica. Your S.O. will think this sounds like a great idea; your next step is to mention how great you’ve heard the riding tours of this area are. Riding tours mean scenic views, access to remote areas, and letting the horses do the heavy lifting up and down those hiking trails. And wouldn’t it be nice to just get away from it all for a week or two? Your S.O. will agree this sounds excellent, and conclude that they’ll need to learn how to ride one of those sturdy little ponies. Assure them this will not be difficult.
  5. Dress them appropriately. The un-equestrians among us often fall into two camps: they think horse riding apparel is very fashionable or very silly. If your S.O. falls into the latter camp, they’ll probably want to ride in jeans and without a helmet. To get them into a helmet, advise them of the risk of traumatic brain injuries and assure them that no one will want to care for them when they are a vegetable. To get them into riding breeches, take them riding in their jeans on a hot summer day, preferably in a poorly ventilated indoor arena.
  6. Mount them on their favorite horse. By now, your S.O. should have developed a clear favorite among the horses they have been caring for during their desensitizing. This might be your horse or it may belong to a friend or the barn where you lesson or board. If it is not your horse, be sure to ask permission from the horse’s owner before letting your S.O. ride it. Do not worry about if the horse is appropriate for your S.O.’s ability level. This is their favorite horse; they will be excited about riding it and will find a way to make it work regardless if the horse is a foot too short or several degrees too crazy.
  7. Allow them to make mistakes. Your S.O. may be reluctant to let you help them at first. Give them basic instructions on how to make the horse go, stop, and turn. Turn them loose in an arena and ignore them. Your S.O. will soon realize that riding horses is harder than it looks and will come to you for advice. Take a moment to feel vindicated.
  8. Offer encouragement. Try to focus on the positives of your S.O.’s riding. Find something to compliment them on- their balance, their ability to trot and steer at the same time, the fact that they did not panic when the horse started cantering. This will make your S.O. feel less depressed when they see 10 year old barn rats riding better than they do.
  9. Correct problematic behaviors. You don’t want your S.O. to do something unsafe, hurtful to the horse, or embarrassing. God forbid they’re posting on the wrong diagonal. The 10 year olds can do better.
  10. Enjoy your success! You’ve accomplished what many have not! Enjoy your achievements, and maybe actually take that trip you discussed back in Step 4.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

23 thoughts on “How to get your significant other in the saddle”

  1. I need to try this out on Kyle. He comes to the barn here and there and is happy to video/photograph but he’s not exceptionally comfortable with the horses. He used to walk Houston some and he’ll pet Annie but he has a way to go!

    1. Johnny always liked to brush the horses (but he was afraid of picking feet for a long time), so I just started making him tag along to the barn and brush Moe while I rode Gina. Brushing is the way to go!

  2. Hahaha… and then your horsey SO wants his OWN horse, and his own custom saddle, and breeches, and 2 pairs of boots, and and and. It’s a double-edged sword!

  3. LOL. You are SO right about the favorite horse part. Tim was always dying to ride Simon. I never let him for many different reasons, but all other horses weren’t quite the same.

    1. Omg I know, right? I was like “really, Johnny, I will just ask BO if you can ride Sundance, the very quiet, very poky draft cross lesson horse” and he was like “NOPE MOE OR NOTHING”. I will admit I was NOT thrilled at the idea of SUPER beginner Johnny on my TB eventer who has taken off with more than one person. (But they seem to get along just fine!)

  4. Haha. Joseph is happy to brush and help me tack up, but his favorite horse unfortunately lives several states away, so he’s only ridden her once. And I think he’s pretty OK with that so far since I went full instructor on him and he decided it was hard. Lol.

    1. I tried instructing, but most of my instructing experience is teaching people with special needs or children. Teaching a 30 year old mentally and physically able beginner is TOTALLY different, so my instruction wasn’t well received LOLZ

  5. Mike refuses to even consider breeches or an english saddle. He prefers to be sweaty and chafe in his manliness……and ive bought several horses by telling him i think this would be a great horse for him!

    1. HAHA is that how you ended up with a field full of horses? 😉 Tell Mike to man up and wear the breeches- Johnny is like “THANK GOD THESE ARE SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE!”

  6. This is great. My husband started taking lessons because we were going to do a 3 day ride while on vacation. However, he took 1 lesson, loved it and started calling around for more. He took 2 lessons a week for a year and now he owns a horse and loves riding. He likes to tell people horses are my fault, but honestly, he loves it himself. 5 years later, he still does not do well with me instructing him though. We’ve found it better to invest in outside instruction.

  7. Love this!!! If John wasn’t allergic I’d try harder to get him to ride. If he gave it a try just once I’d be happy. I can’t complain though he’s very supportive of Tucker and I.

  8. These are funny!! It took me four years to get my SO (now husband) on a horse….he couldn’t let his six year old daughter who was trotting show him up 😉

  9. “I find that asking, “Do you want to come ride?” approximately once a month for six years is an effective strategy.” LOL. Maybe this will work for me someday too.

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