Riding Double On A Horse (What You Need To Know)

Many beginning riders wonder if it’s all right to ride a horse double. The answer to that question varies depending upon many factors. In this article, we discuss the many reasons not to ride double and then provide examples of when and how it may be all right. Read on to learn more about riding double on a horse.

Why Not Ride Double?

Why Not Ride Double?

There are many reasons including why riding double puts horse and riders at great risk. Among them are:

1. Potential Injury

When two people ride on a horse’s back, the weight of the riders is dispersed unevenly. The person riding in the rear places a great deal of weight on the horse’s lumbar region, which is the weakest part of his back. For this reason, riding double can cause a lot of pain for your horse and may injure him.

2. Potential Falls

Adding extra weight horse and distributing that weight unevenly can cause your horse to be off-balance. This increases the risk that your horse may trip, stumble or fall.

3. Exhaustion

Naturally, too much weight will make your horse tired. This also increases the chance that your horse will falter and have an accident.

4. Development Of Bad Behavior

While moving at a walk may be acceptable to some horses while ridden double, speeding up to a trot or canter is very likely to cause your horse to buck.

5. Mixed Signals

If you have any riding skill at all, you know that your horse responds to every subtle movement of your body. When you have two riders on the same horse, your horse will surely receive a number of confusing signals.

6. Loss Of Control

When you ride double, you give up quite a bit of the control that you have over your horse. You will be more reliant on signaling through the reins and less reliant on signals given by the shifting of your weight and the use of your legs.

7. Potential For Runaway

When you ride double, the person riding in the back is likely to have his or her legs dangling down next to the horse’s flanks. The flanks are very sensitive, and contact with them could cause your horse to bolt, buck or get out of control. This is dangerous for horse and riders.

8. Distraction

When you’re riding double, you and your horse are both likely to be distracted and fatigued. This is because your horse will be busy trying to sort out all the signals he’s receiving and you will likely have to struggle to communicate with your horse.

9. Danger For The Passenger

If both riders are unable to sit in the saddle, the one sitting behind the saddle does not have the security of good stirrups or saddle seat. This is especially dangerous for children.

10. Extra Risk For Children

Riding double with a small child can be even more risky than riding double with another adult. A child riding in front of you may interfere with your ability to connect with your horse through the reins. A child riding behind the saddle is at great risk of falling off.

Riding Double On A Horse – The Wrong Way!

Watch the video below and do the opposite. Two grown men riding double on a medium-sized horse with a saddle is absolutely not advised. In this video, these two men presume to teach you how to ride double. Look at what they do and then do exactly the opposite.

This horse is the right size for one of these men to ride alone. To have a full grown man sitting behind the saddle clearly puts stress on this horse’s hindquarters. Furthermore, this man’s long legs and boots with spurs hang dangerously close to the horse’s flanks.

As if that weren’t enough, the fact that he slides off the horse’s rump at the end of the ride is even more testament to these riders’ complete lack of horsemanship skills. He’s very lucky he didn’t get kicked in the stomach.

The only thing these men did right was to pursue this extremely dangerous activity in a controlled round pen setting.

Riding Double With Dale Brisby

Is It Ever All Right To Ride Double?

If you are an experienced rider and you are riding a calm and trustworthy horse in a quiet and controlled setting, riding double with a small child placed in front of you in the saddle can be a good way to accustom your child to riding.

In fact, it can be an ideal way to teach your child the subtleties of reining and communicating with your horse through body movements.

When you ride this way, your child is right next to your stomach and can feel how you shift your weight to communicate with your horse. Your child also has a clear view of your hands on the reins.

If you ride with a western saddle, your child can hold securely to the saddle horn, and you can watch and steady your child at every moment.

This can be a good way to teach your child about riding. It can also be a good way to get children with disabilities used to the idea and sensation of riding.

In this video, an experienced rider on a clearly trustworthy horse helps accustom a child to riding. In my opinion, this child is a little bit big for this activity; however, the horse seems to take it all in stride.

Notice that these riders are in an enclosed arena with soft, safe, sandy footing, and the kid wears a helmet.

Horse Boy Double Riding

In the video below, a pair of young riders enjoy a short ride around the barnyard bareback on a large, strong, calm horse. These light weight girls riding bareback do not add up to an excessive amount of weight for this big, strong horse.

Additionally, riding without a saddle tends to place more of the weight forward on the horse, so it wouldn’t put much pressure (if any) on the horse’s lumbar region. Even so, a long ride like this is not advised. Furthermore, these girls really should be wearing long pants or jeans and shoes!

Riding Double


The bottom line is, it’s all right to take short double rides occasionally if:

  • You are riding bareback or you are both able to fit comfortably in the saddle.
  • Your horse is big and strong enough to carry you both comfortably.
  • You are in a safe, contained, familiar setting.
  • Your horse is calm, quiet and reliable.
  • You are a fairly experienced rider.

Riding double can be lots of fun for young riders and shouldn’t be ruled out entirely. Just keep safety and comfort in mind for horse and riders.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who sits in front when riding double?

This decision depends on size, skill level and coordination. A very small child or toddler should sit in front of an experienced rider for safety and security. An older child who can hold onto the rider for safety and security should sit in back. In the case of two riders of about the same size but different riding skills, the more skilled should sit in front and guide the horse. If one rider is quite a bit more stout than the other, the larger rider should sit in front for better distribution of weight.

2. Is it better if both riders are good riders?

The rider in back should be passive, so that rider’s skills are irrelevant. He or she should simply sit in a balanced manner and refrain from giving any leg or foot cues.

3. Should you ride double at a gallop?

It’s not recommended. It would be too easy for one or both riders to lose balance and fall off. Additionally, it’s an extra and unnecessary burden on the horse. Riding double should just be an occasional thing done to cover a short distance or in an emergency.

4. How do you ride double if one rider is sick or unconscious?

If the ill or injured person is small enough to be held in front of the rider, this would be the way to go. Otherwise, you might be better off securing the ailing person in the saddle and leading the horse.

3 thoughts on “Riding Double On A Horse (What You Need To Know)”

  1. I disagree. The men in the video are discussing training the horse on how to support 2 if necessary. More like a safety measure. Your horse needs to be able to have the confidence in you and his or herself in any given situation and that means training for the what-if. It is not ideal to go double but a good partner will be trainable and willing to learn. Then if the need arises you have done yourself and your horse a solid. Train for the least good situation, ease the flight response and flank sensitivity away through training. Don’t rely on selective external forces to ensure success: train for anything, step by step in safety with methods and experience. Be prepared.

  2. First I agree, not only does it make the most sense to have a young rider in front of you, it seems safest too.
    So, my question is why do they sell buddy saddles for the back of the main saddle and not a sale incorporated for a child to sit in front?

  3. Thank you so much for your advice! I am thinking about trying a double ride with my little boy who has cerebral palsy, he is seven but looks like 4, his weight is less than 20kg, of course I have to find a very calm horse who can support us both, my weight is around 65kg.., I have 2 horses and a little pony, but my horses are too “warm” and the pony is ok for my son alone, she is excellent and wise…


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