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This question already has an answer here:

He_____ (ride) a horse when he was a child. She ______ (sing) in a school choir many years ago.

marked as duplicate by ColleenV, Nathan Tuggy, Peter, Varun Nair, M.A.R. Mar 17 '16 at 18:42

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Past simple is used to express habitual actions, whereas past continuous is used to describe something that was in progress at the time something else happened.

He rode a horse when he was a child - habitual

He was riding a horse when he first saw her - in progress

You can also use the expression "used to" to describe a habitual action

He used to ride a horse when he was a child - habitual

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