How to Write a Horse Riding Scene


Part One

  1. State in a few sentences or in detail the reason for riding a horse and what are the emotions of the character or audience who is watching the horse riding in your story? 

»A. Where are they journeying to? What is the goal of the journey?

I. Was the character running away? On a mission? Or just having fun, possibly competing. They could be heading to a new land or home, to find help for the village or simply to discover what can be on the other side. Depending on what their journey is and how far it is the character would need to stack up on supplies for both him/her and the horse.  
II. Is the goal for them to return? To find treasure? To stay wherever they end up? Do they even know where they are going? Are they trying to prove a point or show they are worthy to someone or something? 

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»B. Where did the horse come from? How does the character feel about riding this particular horse? If it is for a show, then how are the audience reacting to how the rider interacts with this animal??

I. A family member or a stranger could have given the horse as a gift for the character and their journey. Maybe they thought it would be perfect for the circumstance. It depends on what environment horse was trained for too. If the horses are being ridden by soldiers, they are cavalry horses and therefore almost impossible to scare, even with gunfire. A trained cavalry horse would not run away if its rider dismounted or became unseated. As for wild horses or horses that are barely trained, that may be a different story.  
II. Does the character have experience? Do they know stories about how this horse is not well-behaved? Is this horse the angel of all creatures? Does the character feel pressure, excitement or overwhelmed?

III. Is the rider a menace and the crowd or other riders attending the journey are concerned for the horse. Maybe they try to teach the character how to ride a horse or attempt to coax the person out of taking the journey or doing to show in the first place potentially losing out of prize money, only to protect the horse.


Part Two

    1. How is the horse behaving toward the rider and how is the rider behaving toward the horse?

»A. Does the horse know the rider? Does the horse get a not-so-good sense of the rider? Is the horse tired or old? Not able to do certain things like it once could.

I. If there is an established bond between the two, then you can elaborate on how. What are some habits and gestures that goes on between the horse and rider? However if they are just meeting, a good place to start with a horse you are getting to know is a few gentle strokes at the shoulder and then working up the withers. Experimenting starting with slow soft strokes to slowly with varying the technique and pressure. Most horses like having the area from the base of the mane down the withers and upper shoulders rubbed and scratched.  
II. Just like dogs, horses can sense many emotions and vibes from humans and can sometimes feed off of that.If the horse doesn’t like the human for whatever reason, not eat or drink from them, it may kick its legs or neigh, make loud noises, run away, move its head around with force…. although, if the horse likes the person it may kneel down, lower its head for the person to pet it. Nod, tap their heel, stand tall and motionless so the ride can mount the horse. Accept food from them.

III.Imagine taking a horse on a long journey, ranging from 50 to 100 miles or longer. Now, imagine that horse already being tired or old. How difficult would the journey now be? Immensely. There would be multiple stops and the rider may or may not arrive to their destination on time or at all. A tired horse may not get up at all or would be stubborn to move. It could faint and overexertion can lead to death. Is this horse in your scene showing signs or being tired or of old age? But not ever older horse is slow if they were treated well and have good nourishment.  

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»B. Depending on the rider’s experience they could act calm or anxious. Frustrated or easy-going. Also, depending on the character’s personality and whether or not they like animals, they can act a certain way.

I. The character who knows a thing or two about horses will know how to calm the horse, make it like them enough to ride, or at least walk the horse until it gets used to the new rider. It is possible if the character is a new rider to remain calm, however it’s more likely they may want to quit, walk away, throw the frustration out on the horse by yelling or even hitting it 🙁 which can cause the horse to lash out. Not a good start to the journey.. 
II.  Now, if the character just plain does not like animals but realizes the only way to get to his/her goal is to ride this horse, then they might change up their attitude after sometime. They can go from being blatantly angry to cordial with the animal. The animal may or may not pick up on the change of character and, if accepted, will tailor their behavior accordingly.


Part Three

    1. What gear is used to guide the horse, if any? Foreshadow a bit, whether or not the horseback riding will be a smooth ride or a burden.

»A. A wild horse will not have gear automatically put on the horse so was the character prepared or do they have to come up with a way to ride properly? If the horse gear is already in place, then for this particular horse, is there anything else the rider uses to keep the horse focused even if it’s a makeshift item?

Did the rider forget any of these? Will lose any of these along the way or run out on supply?

hoof pick
soft brush
hard brush
rubber curry comb
dandy brush
shedding blade
mane and tail brush
mane and tail detangler
braiding bands
shampoo (for baths)
weight/height tape

Grain (depending on whether or not your horse needs it.)
Supplements and vitamins

halter and leadrope
Saddle pad(s)
Polo wraps or splint boots (make sure you know how to use them properly before putting them on your horse)
Bit (I recommend a d-ring snaffle, but it all depends on the horse)
Winter blanket


Properly fitted helmet
Breeches or jeans (I ride english, and wear jeans all the time, but you need breeches if you’re going to jump or show.)
boots (paddock boots are affordable, good for daily use, and can be used for shows when paired with half chaps.)
riding pants (can be either comfortable jeans or riding breeches, at least 2 pairs)
shirts (anything comfy that can get dirty)
gloves (for cold weather)

II. As for wild horses, unless they have been around people it’ll be hard to get near them. Two things will be needed. A corral or a fast horse and a rope made of nylon. Also, giving treats to a wild horse, or any wild animal may not be healthy. For a few reasons. Horses will argue with each other to try and get the treat with you right in the middle. When the treats are gone, they may be aggressive.
The best way to catch a horse is to build a trust relationship with the horse. So, the character shouldn’t try and put a halter on right away.  
III. A resourceful ride may create makeshift gear if the other gear wears down, is old, rust or not even there. Using rope, string, sewing their own saddle, make their own boots, whatever they can to complete their journey. Also, they can tailor their gear how they see fit. Maybe the ride bought pink gear or gear with diamonds. Possibly it has their name on it for advertising during a race or show.  

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»B. You can add a mini conversation between the rider and the horse, the rider and another character, or the rider and themselves. What is being discussed about the journey? Do they have plenty of food, water, and shelter? Will their be obstacles never faced?

I. What doubts do they have and how do they cope with it? Does the horse or fellow riders do anything to help ease the rider? Is the rider brave and the one trying to ease everyone else, including his/her own horse? Maybe it’s a trip they make several times a year and the horse is well aware of what is to come, and may be afraid. Possibly, the character sings to the horse to calm them down or puts a blindfold over their eyes and walks the horse quickly across a unsteady bridge.
II. If there isn’t enough food already packed or it can rot, then a map needs to be created on where the character and horse will stop to rest and eat. Food is important and because the animal is walking a (possibly) long distance it is imperative that they stay nourished, including the rider.

How big are the heels they will climb? What about wide, open waters? Do they have a boat waiting for them when they get their or do they have to built one from scratch? If so, did they bring the supplies ahead of time? If so, this could make the horse travel slower depending on how much extra stuff they have to carry. What about the whether, other wild animals, theifs, beggars?


Part Four

    1. What is the scenery like? Is it intended for a horse? Does the rider have to get off the horse to pass certain obstacles or leave the horse behind completely? Maybe even come back for the horse after completing their journey?

»A. Is your scene about a journey through the wilderness or outside terrains??

I. Horses can do fine on sand but if it’s really deep it can be hard on their legs. For slopes it depends how steep they are. If really steep (like maybe 50 degrees) then they probably wouldn’t be able to canter safely down the hill.

Horses do very well in the dark, sand wears them out terribly but is excellent for their legs, a flat gallop can be kept up for maybe 2 miles but a rolling canter can be kept up for 20 or more miles (difference between 100 yard dash and a marathon). Well fed, a horse can go longer than you can sit on the horse.

II. Watering a hot horse is very dangerous. If a horse is breathing heavy and sweating it’s standard to walk him or tie him up for a while until he stops sweating and breathing hard. Riders check to see how hot a horse is by sticking a hand between his front legs. If it’s really hot and wet down there, the horse must wait to have a big drink. 

»B. Is your story about a show or a rider first learning how to ride the horse either for sport or for future journeys?

I. During the show or training is their obstacles that makes the rider have to stop the horse, get off the horse or jump from the horse? If the character is training the horse,they may create obstacles similar to what would be found on future journeys to see how the horse does. The horse can be replaced, sadly, during training or possibly a show/race.



Part Five

    1. After the journey is over the rider(s) says goodbye to the horse, either literally or figuratively. Is there any gifts exchanged between the two?

»A. Humans and animals can develop intense relationships… whether good or bad what is exchanged between the two before parting ways, even if it’s just a gesture.

I. When they finished their journey they could hug the horse, pat it on the head, give the horse a treat, kiss it on the forehead, adopt the horse, take pictures with the horse, cry, speak to the horse or even share the horses hoof. 

II. For someone not too happy, they may just walk away, yell at, laugh or plain be rude to the horse. It may or may not even have been the horses fault.
III. Lastly, if a bond has been formed that once was not there to begin with, their is a different type of goodbye. Whether the ride first met the horse or didn’t like the horse at first but now loves it. The character/rider could stare into the horses eyes as a silent goodbye, wave goodbye from a distances, share a carrot with the animal, groom the animal one last time, rest their head on the animal’s body or simply refuse to get off the horse.


Need additional help? We researched other resources to Write a Horse Riding Scene, just for you! Enjoy:
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