Is there a phrase or expression that means "riding a horse with another person"?

I can't think of a shorter more concise way to say it. The best I could manage is "riding a horse as a duo", which makes it more clear, but I am not sure if there's a better more idiomatic way of putting it.

  • 3
    Your examples aren't the same thing. Are you trying to say that (1) there's two people riding one horse; or (2) are you only talking about the second person on the horse, and what they are doing relative to the first person?
    – gotube
    Sep 2, 2022 at 3:59
  • 1
    Don't people say 'riding two-up' any more? Sep 2, 2022 at 11:20
  • Here's a curiosity! In Australia, if you double someone on a pushbike like that, you call it giving them a "dink". So you will hear kids yelling "gimme a dink mate".
    – Fattie
    Sep 4, 2022 at 16:10
  • [There're two people riding on horse.]
    – Lambie
    Sep 4, 2022 at 16:59
  • Aside: Local usage for bikes: buck. Sep 4, 2022 at 21:01

6 Answers 6


From a web search it seems the expression is "riding double":

When two people ride on a horse’s back, the weight of the riders is dispersed unevenly. ... For this reason, riding double can cause a lot of pain for your horse and may injure him.

  • 1
    That's correct on a bicycle. Didn't know it was the same on a horse.
    – gotube
    Sep 2, 2022 at 4:23
  • 1
    @gotube check my answer! :3
    – DialFrost
    Sep 2, 2022 at 4:43

The only phrase I know for this is riding pillion.

This phrase immediately came to mind when I saw the question, but it's sufficiently rare that I checked I had it right.

I've never heard either of the expressions suggested in other answers.

It may be that pillion is unfamiliar in the US. The GloWbE corpus shows only 13 instances of "ride pillion", but 5 of them are from the UK, and none from US or Canada.

Edit: looking for just "pillion" in the GloWbE corpus, I find 453 instances, of which only 2 are from the US and 3 from Canada. There are 86 from the UK, but the highest number is 107 from Pakistan.

  • I'm surprised you never heard of "riding double". In my experience riding double is widely used, but riding pillion is very rare. I have heard the term used in speech exactly once about 20 years ago. (And I had to ask what it meant at the time, to which the answer was "riding double".) Since then I encountered it a couple of times only in books. Usually older English works (ircc it appeared in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories) or newer works trying to evoke a 19th century feel.
    – Tonny
    Sep 2, 2022 at 13:40
  • 2
    The term pillion can also be used for a buddy-seat on a motorcycle and "riding pillion" can also be used for (motor-)cycles, but is just a as rare there as it is in horse riding in my experience.
    – Tonny
    Sep 2, 2022 at 13:45
  • 4
    "Riding pillion" is the term I'd immediately think of, though these days it's more commonly used for motorcycles. I'd say it's the most common way to talk about two people riding a motorbike, but I am in the UK.
    – Showsni
    Sep 2, 2022 at 14:11
  • 5
    Riding pillion is perfectly normal modern English in the UK. Horses or motorbikes.
    – TonyK
    Sep 2, 2022 at 16:09
  • 1
    I grew up in Canada and was perfectly familiar with the term"pillion seat" with reference to a motorcycle. But it could be because my father rode motorcycles in England during World War II and used to use this expression, so maybe it really is rare in Canada. I live in the U.S. now, and I never hear this expression here. Sep 3, 2022 at 5:41

Double bank

To carry an extra person on a horse or pony. Wikipedia

This term can also be used for bicycles, but mainly for horses.

to carry a second person on (a horse, bicycle , etc Collins Dictionary


The phrase I have always used is riding two-up.

However, the dictionaries don't seem to have caught up with this usage in the equestrian space, but there are plenty of hits for riding motorcycle with a pillion passenger.

NSFW warning, it does get used for other things as well, so don't web search niavely for it.

  • 2
    Since it’s not well-covered by dictionaries, can you elaborate on what contexts you’re familiar with this usage from — current equestrian circles in the UK, or elsewhere, or some other setting?
    – PLL
    Sep 3, 2022 at 9:41
  • I too have heard two-up used normally, "they're two-up ...", in the UK, relatively contemporaneously to today.
    – Fattie
    Sep 4, 2022 at 16:13

"Riding pillion" was used in the US/Canada but seems to have dropped out of general usage. You'll find it in Mason Arnold Green https://www.google.com/books/edition/Springfield_Memories/GghcU1_ianUC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22riding+pillion%22&pg=PA38&printsec=frontcover

and in William Knox Wigram https://www.google.com/books/edition/Flotsam_and_Jetsam_a_cargo_of_Christmas/XzpcAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22riding+pillion%22&pg=PA104&printsec=frontcover

"Riding bitch" is mostly biker slang but very occasionally may refer to horses. AFAIR it pops up in Dickie's excellent "To the White Sea" in relation to aeroplanes (but I could be wrong). In any case seems to date back about 30 years.


Just for the record!

According to the Maquarie Dictionary,


is indeed used for exactly this purpose, in Australia.


(As a kid I only ever heard it used regarding pushbikes - but I wasn't part of a horsey set.)

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