Tips for Preparing to Ride (Even if You Can’t Ride at Home)
We know that a lot of our guests look forward to horseback riding at 4UR. Some guests ride with us every year but aren’t able to ride at home. Many of our new guests have either never ridden before. Others haven’t ridden in a very long time. If you fall into one of these categories, keep reading for a few tips to make your week on horseback a little easier.
Cowboy boots and jeans are a must when coming down to the barn to ride with us
If you don’t have your own boots and don’t want to purchase your own, we have a few pairs you can borrow. If you do choose to purchase your own, we strongly suggest breaking them in before arriving for your stay. Breaking in boots definitely isn’t fun when you’re learning to ride at the same time.
Sore seat bones are no fun
If you haven’t spent much time in the saddle, after a bit, your rear end will probably start to hurt. We try to have the most comfortable saddles we can, but when your seat bones aren’t used to the position of being in the saddle, there’s not much to help in just a week. If you’d like to break in your saddle seat prior to your arrival we suggest riding a bike. This will toughen up your seat and help some with the uncomfortable feeling on your seat bones. We do not recommend purchasing saddle cushions that strap to your saddle. These types of pads can slip around on the saddle and make it difficult to securely keep your seat while riding.
Strengthen Those Thighs
Proper riding will work your inner thighs as you do more than just walk on your horse. Any exercises you can work on to strengthen your inner thighs will help you tremendously in the long run. While exercises will probably work those muscles a little differently than riding, it will be better than coming in without strengthening at all.
One of the most important parts of proper horseback riding is keeping your weight down in your heels. Your heels act as shock absorbers to help keep you balanced in your seat. Riders who keep their heels down will be significantly more stable in their seat than those who let their toes tip toward the ground. Any exercise to help stretch out your calf will make it easier to stretch your heels down while riding. To try this at home, use your stairs! Stand on a stair with the ball of your foot on the edge, hold on to the railing, knees slightly bent and let your weight fall down into your heels. To mimic proper riding, try to keep your knees almost directly over your toes so that there is a straight line from your hip down to the back of your heel.
Strengthen your core
We don’t want to see anyone slumping in their saddle. Active riders are alert and ready for anything, which means they are engaged in riding-not just passengers. Having a strong core (think abs AND back) will help you to be engaged while riding and be assertive with communication to your horse.
Be Honest with Yourself
The most important step to preparing yourself for horseback riding is to know yourself and your comfort levels. Set reasonable expectations for what you’d like to experience here and communicate that to your wranglers. We want everyone to have the best week of their year here with us. Being comfortable during your experiences is key. If you’re worried about riding or nervous, chat with us when you’re here about some things we can do to make you more comfortable and to build your confidence.
We look forward to getting you into the saddle and out on the trail when you’re ready!