Beginning Riding Lessons


While it isn’t necessary to go out and purchase a full riding wardrobe for your first lesson, there are a few must haves which will make your experience safe, comfortable and fun.


This is the single most important piece of equipment you need to own. Approved ASTM riding helmets must be properly fitted to the rider so they don’t slip or fly off during riding. Riding helmets are designed specifically for riding and the types of injuries a rider could experience. Substituting a non- sport specific helmet such as a hockey helmet is NOT recommended and is to be avoided. Borrowing or purchasing a used helmet which could have structural damage not visible to the eye should be avoided. A reputable tack shop will carry certified helmets and will be able to assist you in selecting a properly fitting helmet.


While wearing a pair of riding boots is a good idea they are not essential. Wear shoes/boots that have a one half to one inch heel which will prevent your foot from slipping through the stirrup. Make sure the sole is not too thick so you can easily remove your foot from the stirrup.


Fitted jeans or long pants will be sufficient when starting out. Avoid loose fitting clothing and fabrics such as leggings which can be slippery in the saddle. Avoid shorts as they offer no protection for your legs from the potential rubbing and pinching of the saddle. Refrain from wearing scarves, jewelry or loose fitting clothing which can get caught while working around or riding the horse.


Horses can be tons of fun but they are large animals and even a quiet horse can accidentally hurt you. Here are some safety tips you need to remember when you are at a stable.

  • Move quietly and try not to startle the horse.
  • Don’t wear sandals or go barefoot when grooming or tacking up a horse.
  • Don’t sit or kneel when working around a horse’s legs. You need to get out of the way quickly if your horse moves.
  • Don’t wear anything that dangles such as long necklaces, scarves or earrings that can caught up when working around a horse.
  • Tie your horse with a safety quick release knot to a solid object that won’t let go if the horse pulls back.
  • When typing your horse make sure the lead is not long enough for the horse to get its legs tangled.
  • When leading your horse, walk on the left side between the head and shoulders, and always turn the horse away from you.
  • Never wrap a lead rope or reins around your hand, arm or any part of your body. If the horse spooks you could be dragged or seriously injured.
  • Always be calm around your horse. Speak quietly and firmly.



Many people wonder, when they begin a new sport or activity, how fast they should be progressing with their training and skills development. While each person should be allowed to learn at their own pace, there are some general guidelines you can use to manage your expectations.
Riders taking one lesson per week can expect the following:

Introduction to horses
Introduction to basic horse handling with emphasis on safety
Basic horse equipment and care
Riding Skills: mount, dismount, position, how to ask the horse to walk, stop and turn

Improvement on theory
Introduction/practice of riding patterns
Confidence gained in horse control
Riding skills: introduction/ practice of lateral work, gait transitions, balance, two point position (English), riding with one hand (Western)

Independently able to tack up horse
Improving knowledge of equipment and horse anatomy
Riding skills: walk, trot and posting trot (on correct diagonal), canter/lope (learning correct leads/changes), introduction to sport specialization, introduction to the show ring, understanding of rein effects, introduction and practice of bending, straightness and impulsion

These guidelines will vary from individual to individual. Factors such as frequency of riding lessons and opportunities to practice can also impact how fast a rider progresses. Riders with above average athletic ability may also progress more rapidly.

It is important to remember that you should be challenged, but not pushed beyond your mental and physical limitations. A good riding instructor will know what is best for you and will tailor a lesson program to suit your abilities and goals.

The Long Term Equestrian Development (LTED) model will also outline stages of development for riders of all ages and involvement.



(Please note this segment is a work-in-progress. For more assistance please call MHC office 204-925-5718 or email [email protected])

Here will be some of the forms which aid in the progression through the Rider Levels. Equestrian Canada coaches (see this link) can help a rider through these levels, arrange training, tests and other evaluations. 

Rider Level Evaluation Administration processes (please read first)

Note: If using one of these PDFs as fillable online, please remember to SAVE the document before sending or information may be lost.

Application to Host English or Western Rider Evaluations

Application for rider(s) to undergo evaluations

Waiver - all participants 18 and over

Waiver - all participants under age 18

English Rider Level 1 Rubric

English Rider Level 2 Rubric

English Rider Level 3 Rubric

English Rider Level 4 Rubric

English Rider Level 5 Rubric

English Rider Level 6 Rubric

English Rider Level 6 Challenge Rubric

English Rider Level 7 Challenge Rubric

English Rider Level 8 Challenge Rubric

English Rider Level 9 Challenge Rubric

Western Rider Level 1 Rubric

Western Rider Level 2 Rubric

Western Rider Level 3 Rubric

Western Rider Level 4 Rubric

Western Rider Level 1-4 Challenge Rubric

Western Rider Intermediate Manual (2014 - for free download)

Western Instructor Rubric including Emergency Action Plan

EC Stable Management Study Guide

Manitoba Horse Council membership

Coaching Privacy release

Equestrian Canada Coach Operations Guide 2020


A set of Rider Manuals covering Rider 1 - 2, Rider 3 - 4 - 5, Rider 6 - 7 - 8, Western 1 - 4, and the Stable Management Guide (English and Western) have been produced by Equestrian Canada, and can be purchased direct from Manitoba Horse Council's office, or from Greenhawk Winnipeg. The English Rider Level manuals are $31.50, Western manual is $15.75;  Stable Management is $47.25 (all inclusive of GST). There will be a nominal shipping charge of $5 per order. Please email [email protected] to get them sent out to you.

If you already have the Rider Level books, you should download the following errata sheets. Equestrian Canada is not correcting the existing books in the near future.

Rider Level 1-2 Errata

Rider Level 3-5 Errata

Rider Level 6-8 Errata





Contact Us

Manitoba Horse Council Office
145 Pacific Avenue
Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2Z6

Executive Director, John Savard
Phone: (204) 925-5719
Email: [email protected]

Business Manager, Linda Hazelwood
Phone: (204) 299-0118 (temporary)
Email: [email protected]