To help you prepare, be safe and have fun around the horses, C Lazy U Ranch would like to offer some helpful tips to our beginner riders to enhance your experience as much as possible.
What to Wear
When riding a horse it’s important to make sure your legs are completely covered as the skin on your legs can be rubbed raw by the saddle when riding. Wear durable long pants, like jeans, paired with a sturdy close-toed shoe. Hiking boots are OK, but cowboy boots are better. The stiffer material of cowboy boots will better protect your feet while out on the trail and around the horses’ hooves. Traditional cowboy boots also have a low heel, which is important for safety. The defined heel of a cowboy boot keeps your foot from going through the stirrup if you fall. There’s a reason cowboys and wranglers wear cowboy boots! If you’re visiting in the winter, snow boots can often be used without an issue.
How to Approach a Horse
Horses have monocular vision, which means they have blind spots in front of their nose, under their neck, and directly behind them. You never want to approach a horse from one of these spots as it will startle them and leave them feeling unsettled.
When approaching a horse, make sure you stand in a spot where the horse has the ability to see you and acknowledge your presence. When you walk towards the horse, walk in an arc so that it is easier for them to recognize your location. If you’re approaching them from the front, come at a side angle and stretch out your hand to allow the horse to recognize your scent.
When walking behind a horse, always touch it from the side first and run you hand with constant contact along the horse’s rump as you pass behind. This will help ensure you don’t inadvertently startle the horse and cause it to kick while you’re behind it. If they don’t know you’re back there and move suddenly, you could be hurt.
Horseback Riding Posture
When riding a horse you should be able to draw an imaginary straight line through your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel, making sure they’re all vertically aligned. If you find yourself hunching forward and rounding your shoulders try lifting up from your sternum and opening up space in your ribs which will naturally open up your shoulder positioning. Make sure your back is straight to avoid any post-riding pain from your adventure.
When you mount your horse for the first time, you’ll likely need to adjust the position of the stirrups. Position each stirrup so that it rests on the ball of your foot for the duration of the ride. Take the time to make sure they’re in the right position and comfortable.
As you ride, keep your toes pointing to the sky with your ankles flexed and your heels down, this will help you absorb shock from the horse while in motion and keep you secure by not allowing your foot to slip out of the stirrup.
Summer Riding Tips
Summer horseback riding lends itself to some of the most ideal weather conditions, however keep in mind the heat plays a big part in the experience. It’s important to wear layers of clothing so that you may easily shed or add one depending on your changing body temperature. Try to wear light-colored riding apparel as dark colors tend to absorb more sunlight and make you even hotter. Light colors will reflect the sunlight and keep you cool.
This same logic applies for picking a saddle, if you have the option to pick a lighter-colored saddle it will reduce the heat absorbed by your legs while riding and the heat that is transferred to the horse’s back. It is critical that during these hot summer rides you and your horse are appropriately hydrated, so make sure to drink lots of water during the day and allow your horse to drink when it needs to. Your trail guides will make sure the horses get enough breaks depending on the weather.
Western vs. English Saddles
C Lazy U is a Western ranch equipped with Western saddles and equipment, but what does that mean? Western saddles were designed for cowboys who spend long days riding the range and working cattle. Western saddles are much heavier than English saddles, however the weight of the saddle and the rider is spread across a larger area on the horse’s back which is less tiring for the horse and better distributes the weight of the saddle and rider allowing for longer rides. The most obvious feature of a western saddle is the horn, which is not created to be a hand hold for the rider but is actually used when working cattle.
English saddles offer closer contact with the horse’s back. They are much lighter in weight than Western saddles and sometimes come in synthetic materials which are even lighter. This design is intended for jumping and dressage. The smaller size and better rider-horse contact gives the rider more control when showing their horse. An English saddle is recognizable by its lack of horn, smaller size and smooth, sleek lines.
C Lazy U’s Expert Horse Wranglers
If all this sounds like a foreign language to you, don’t worry! C Lazy U’s expert horse wrangles have years of experience and are ready to assist you during your stay to make sure you’re comfortable while working with and riding your horse.