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Dude Ranch 101

5 Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders (All Levels!)

5 Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders is a simple guide to follow for enjoyable trail riding, no matter what your skill level is. If you’ve never been on a horse before or if you’ve only mounted up for a few short rides, exploring the Black Range Mountains of New Mexico on horseback can seem equally idyllic and daunting. After all, you are entrusting your safety to an animal with a mind of its own.  What you need are some useful horseback riding tips.

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.

5 Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders (All Levels!)

Geronimo Trails Creek Crossing

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), and 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. 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.  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 in 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 in that direction.


Geronimo Trail Ranch Kid Flowers Trail

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). Plus, when you are relaxed – you are having fun!


5 Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders (All Levels!)

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.

5 Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders (All Levels!)
Originally posted by Geronomio Trail Ranch – Contact them to learn more about finding your “happy place” on the back of a horse on your next ranch vacation.