Can You Ride a Horse if You Have Long Nails?

Riding a horse while sporting long nails isn’t impossible but it’ll be harder than the alternative. I’d say that unless you want to jump through hoops and overcomplicate your life, stick to short nails while riding a horse.

But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to talk about solutions to this problem. Indeed, you can ride a horse if you have long nails, and there are a few practical things you can do to ease your job.

Will Your Long Nails Harm the Horse?

First off, though, can your long nails hurt the horse while riding? From what I imagine, you can inconvenience the horse during riding because the long nails are prickly. If you’re not careful, you may sting the horse and that’ll spook him.

As for actual harming, there’s nothing to fear. Long nails are sharp knives that you have to be careful with. And the horse’s skin isn’t made of paper sheets.

As long as you don’t get near the animal’s eyes or sensitive spots, you’ll be alright. If you have to change the harness or pet your horse, do it carefully. Your long nails aren’t exactly made for precision work.

Plus, the horse doesn’t know that you don’t want to hurt him. If he’ll feel a sting, he’ll react accordingly and lose trust in you. That’s why I recommended short nails when riding or taking care of horses.

How to Protect Your Nails While Riding?

To protect your nails while riding, consider wearing equestrian gloves. You can wear them all the time, even when you’re not riding the horse and you’re simply grooming it. It’ll prevent dirt from getting under your nails and breakages will happen less often, if at all. That’s the number one problem with long nails – breakages. A decent pair of gloves should do the trick alright!

It’s going to be hard to hold the reins with long nails but, with experience, it’s doable. If you practice long enough, it’ll be second nature to ride a horse if you have long nails. One may break from time to time, but there aren’t many things you can do to prevent that, other than a pair of gloves. I suppose you could be extra careful about your hands when riding the horse.

Many women don’t have problems with their long nails when riding horses. It all boils down to your riding technique and how experienced you are. If you can barely stand on the horse, then holding the reins and controlling the horse with your long nails will be a hassle. Fortunately, with patience comes success!

Gel or Acrylic Nails are Better for Riding?

Many women argue that gel nails are much better than acrylic ones when riding horses. They’re much more rigid and hardy, which comes in handy during high-intensity exercises with your horse. Acrylics are less durable and may break more often, while gel nails will last a while longer. Though, if you’re very careful, even acrylics will be fine.

There’s one thing that many people recommend when riding with long nails – gel nail polish. Once you polish your nails with gel polish, you’ll protect them from just about anything except a breakage. The gel will never polish no matter what you do, almost, so you’re safe until you need to polish them again. I recommend keeping a bottle of gel nail polish in your saddle or drawer.

Gel nails are much more resilient, and breakages will happen less often than with acrylics. Even during highly stressful and high-impact exercises, gel nails will hold on for dear life. At the end of the day, you’ll only need to reapply the nail polish and you’re good.


While riding a horse with long nails is indeed possible, I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s too much hassle involved. It’ll take away from your focus on the actual riding unless you become really experienced and you can control your pace really well.

That’s when the length of your nails won’t really matter. But if you’re a beginner, I suggest shortening your nails until you become used to your horse.

Then, you can come back to your classic nail length, and things should be fine. If you use gel nail polish and get a decent pair of riding gloves, you’ll improve your nails’ lifespan even more.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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