12 Different Types of Horse Riding

Different Types of Horse Riding
Photo by Mikayla Storms

Horse riding has always been an enjoyable pastime. And whether you’re just starting or you’ve been doing it for years.

There are plenty of different ways to do it, depending on your skill level and your kind of person. 

However, several riding styles may suit you perfectly. This article will teach you about the different types of horse riding so that you can figure out which style best suits your interests and needs.

1. Dressage

The first on our list of different types of horse riding is dressage. Dressage is the art of riding a horse to test its skills and abilities. This can be done in competitions or simply for enjoyment. 

Dressage involves training and schooling the horse with exercises that include both flat work and airs above the ground, sometimes done to music.

The competition system is divided into levels (preliminary, elementary, intermediate, novice, and advanced), and each gets more difficult as you progress through them. 

Meanwhile, All dressage riders start at the Preliminary level, then advance to higher levels based on their time riding this style.

2. Show Jumping

Show jumping is one of the different types of horse riding where riders take their horses over various obstacles that test their speed, such as agility and athletic ability.

The goal is to jump over these obstacles in the fastest time possible. The event became an Olympic discipline for men at the 1924 Olympics in Paris and women at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. 

In addition, Show jumping tests both horse and rider physical skills as well as their mental stamina and experience handling nervous horses on a course that could be on fire or full of loud noises.

3. Racing

Racing is an exciting type of horse riding where the rider and the horse must work together as a team. The horse moves so fast it leaves its hoofprints on the ground like tracks in a snowstorm. At the same time, riders use skills and athletic ability to guide them through each obstacle. 

Also, Races are just short bursts of speed, with horses running neck-and-neck at top speed to the finish line. It’s a thrilling adrenaline rush that any other form of riding can’t match!

4. Saddleseat

Saddleseat is one of the oldest types of horse riding, originating in Western Europe. In this style, the rider sits on a saddle with a flat or deep seat.

He uses a dressage whip in the right hand to guide the horse while they use their hands and left leg to give subtle cues. 

It’s an elegant ride that emphasizes discipline, control, and tradition. The equestrian also needs to be able to control the horse with their legs independently from their seat. 

5. English Pleasure

English Pleasure is often considered the first of all the different types of horse riding most people try and offers a relatively low-impact way to experience the beauty and power of horses.

It involves small obstacles such as fences and poles that can be jumped in extensive courses or trotted through in smaller ones. 

Meanwhile, a rider may use a competitive or therapeutic approach, depending on their goals. Additionally, riders may choose a Western, reining, dressage, jumping, stock horse driving, cutting horse class, enjoying trail rides, or spending time at an animal therapy farm.

6. Trail Riding

Many people do not know that one can enjoy many types of horse riding. Trail riding is the kind of horse people want the most and, in my opinion, is the most pleasant to ride. 

Trail rides will often take you through many landscapes and allow you to experience different parts of nature while taking in some spectacular views. Whether looking for a leisurely walk or an adventurous ride, trail riding is ideal for everyone! 

7. Reining

It is a type of horse riding in which horses are ridden in a pattern around an oval course that includes maneuvers. Such as sliding stops, spinning, and cutting cows from a herd by circling them.

A good horse will learn to respond to commands given by its rider through voice and subtle cues to execute the movements required for each pattern ideally.

It’s not just a rodeo-type sport where you throw on some spurs and wear chaps, and there’s skill involved on both the rider’s part and the horses.

8. Barrel Racing

Barrel racing, which also includes pole bending and water jump races, is one of the most popular types of horse riding.

It was formalized in the late 1800s by William George Duffield Jr., who created a racecourse in San Francisco.

The course comprised three laps around a quarter-mile track with nine barrels arranged in an alternating right and left pattern. 

9. Roping

Roping refers to Western-style riding for working with cattle. While people might think it’s easy, most riders find that roping requires excellent physical strength, accuracy, and timing. 

Roping begins by saddling up your horse and choosing from various ropes: lariat, lead rope, or running braid. After you’ve picked your weapon, your goal is successfully getting the cow’s head down to throw a loop around its neck.

Meanwhile, if this doesn’t work and you want to start over again with another animal, you should be able to keep calm because you will be heading back out into the pasture, where more animals await.

10. Western Pleasure

Western Pleasure is often the first style people learn when they start riding horses. It’s a gentle, simple ride where you control the horse’s movements by using your seat and hands, without spur or whip, to communicate signals. 

The rider should not indicate what they want until a few moments before they want it done. Western Pleasure is usually done at an easy walk, slow trot, and sometimes a canter with leg yields included for one-directional changes of lead.

The rider sits lightly in the saddle with hands low and in front. Judges award points for performance quality, including execution and handling, correctness, technique, and compliance with standard codes.

11. Gymkhana

There are different types of horse riding. Gymkhana is one form of horse riding you might not have heard about before.

It is another type of riding event where riders show off their horse’s speed, agility, accuracy, and attention-to-direction skills in timed competitions.

It is a racing event where riders attempt to go around a course as fast as possible without knocking down any objects or missing any flags set up along the way.

These courses are typically built with ten poles, fifteen flags-ten for pole weaving, and five for finishing touches on top.

12. Endurance Riding

Endurance riding is one of the most well-known of all the different types of horse riding. It consists of traveling a set distance on an established route over as long as 24 hours. 

Horses and riders must complete a long cross-country course while showing good manners to all other horses and horse handlers along the way.

To cover such a considerable distance, endurance riders must be in excellent physical condition, both mentally and physically. 

Also, Endurance riding requires stamina and excellent communication skills between rider and horse. The whole team needs to work together if they hope to make it across the finish line!


Horseback riding is a fun activity for people of all ages, no matter their fitness level. There are many things to consider when looking into starting this hobby.

Also, you should figure out which of the different types of horse riding best suits your needs. As long as you take the time to plan appropriately and educate yourself, horseback riding will quickly become a life-long passion.

Meanwhile, whether you’re new to horseback riding or a veteran horsewoman, you can enjoy plenty of activities with your horse.

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