angle-left Exercises to Improve Rhythm for Riding Horses

Exercises to Improve Rhythm for Riding Horses

Develop your horseback riding rhythm with these horsemanship tips.
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Rhythm in horseback riding is the rider’s ability to feel the movement of the horse, and that comes from the horse’s feet. Horse gait rhythm differs, like different types of music have their own beats.

Learning to feel those different beats is a matter of learning to feel ripples of vibration from your horse’s feet through your seat bones and the stirrups.

There are several exercises that can help you learn to feel your horse’s rhythm and improve your horsemanship:


In your riding, post the trot, even in a western saddle. The rhythm of the diagonal beat helps you feel the timing of the horse’s feet.

  • Try trotting around the arena for two or three minutes, posting five strides, sitting five, posting 10, sitting 10 and then repeating the exercise. 
  • Keep the two-beat gait going. It’s the easiest way to feel the energy from your horse. 
  • Try working him over cavaletti or logs, if your horse doesn’t have big gaits. This will help exaggerate the movement so you can follow his rhythm.

Rope Twirl

  • Start by trotting your horse; maintaining rhythmic two-beat gait. 
  • Swing your arm over your head, as if you have a rope in it. 
  • Swing in rhythm with the horse’s feet.

Do this exercise in both directions, using both arms. The more you do it, the more rhythm you’ll develop. Try it at a lope after you’ve mastered the trot.

Propeller Twirl

With another person longeing your horse, put your reins down or tie them in a loose knot. At the trot: 

  • Hold your arms out and swing them like propellers in time to the trot. 
  • Swing your arms with the diagonal beat of the horse. As the horse’s inside front foot hits the ground, your arms should swing toward that front foot. 
  • Swing your arms to the outside, as the outside foot hits the ground.

Learn and practice these exercises to develop muscle memory. When the time comes to do something – chase a cow or collect your horse for a dressage test – you’ll be able to adjust to the horse’s rhythm without thinking, making you a better rider.