If you take the time to understand a few of the basic principles of horsemanship, you will be better equipped to successfully and confidently partner your horse – and fully enjoy your ride. Follow these five horseback riding tips to make the most of your trail rides.
Tip #1: Think of the Horse as Your Partner
Riding a horse is only deeply enjoyable when you recognize that a horse isn’t a tool to be used, it’s your partner.
Pay attention to what your horse looks at, how it reacts to various things around it (including you), what it does with its eyes, ears, and tail as you get to know it and learn to work with it. Approach riding a horse as teamwork, not as an animal to be controlled.
Tip #2: Be a Leader
By nature prey animals, there is little a horse can sniff out faster than your fear. And when you are afraid, horses will typically react in one of two ways: they’ll get scared too or they will take advantage of you.
Horses turn to their riders to keep them safe and direct them. They appreciate having a rider they can understand and trust, and understanding comes with being firm and direct while still being kind.
Tip #3: Understand Pressure and Release
One of the most basic principles or riding or teaching a horse is that “pressure motivates and release teaches.” Squeezing with your legs to ask a horse to move forward, or pulling gently on the reins to turn, is applying pressure. The horse wants to remove the pressure and will take action to make the pressure stop. When your horse responds, stop the pressure and it will know it did the right thing.
Squeezing with your legs means go. Sitting still with your seat and pulling back on the reins means stop. If you push with one leg against the horse’s side, it should move in the opposite direction. If you apply a right or left neck rein, the horse will turn that direction.
Tip #4: Reward Your Horse
Horses are happier and more willing partners when they find you to be a good leader and feel appreciated. A gentle rub and kind words go a long way towards making friends with your mount and encouraging it to enjoy you, too.
Tip #5: Relax and Have Fun
Probably the single most important thing you can do is relax – no matter how your ride is going. When you stay calm you stay in control (or can get it back quickly when the horse goes off-roading for the green growing snack). And when you are relaxed – you are having fun!
Trail Riding at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
When it comes to riding horses, though, no blog post or list of horseback riding tips can substitute for a good horse and a better rider to teach you. At Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, we ensure you understand and can execute the basics of riding before taking you out to enjoy the vast, beautiful country surrounding our ranch.
Contact us to learn more about finding your “happy place” on the back of a horse at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch.