A Guide to Horseback Riding for Beginners

Are you getting ready to head to Southfork Ranch for a horseback trail ride or lesson? We offer horseback riding experiences for beginners and experts alike. If you’re nervous about your first time going horseback riding, here are some basic ways to ease the nerves and prepare for your session.


Having an expert close by is very important when you’re horseback riding for the first time. The wranglers at Southfork Ranch will be there with you every step of the way. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the ride.


1. Dressing appropriately


We recommend wearing long pants, like jeans. Closed-toe shoes are required for all riders. Proper footwear will ensure your feet don’t keep slipping out of the stirrups. If you have cowboy boots, wear them! If not, sneakers or other types of boots are also acceptable. For little riders, you may bring a helmet for extra protection.


2. Approaching your horse


Keep in mind as you’re approaching your horse that he or she may be nervous too. One way to greet your horse is to extend your hand out in front of you. Allow the horse to sniff the back of your hand. If you’re comfortable and have a wrangler nearby, you can then gently pet the horse and say hello.


3. Following instructions


During a lesson or trail ride, it’s important to listen to your wrangler. Learning a new skill requires active listening and asking questions when you have them. When your wrangler shows you how to properly mount your horse, watch and listen intently.


4. Staying calm


It’s okay to be nervous in the beginning, but once you greet your horse, you’ll probably start to feel the nerves melt away. This is a good sign. If you’re nervous and scared, your horse will sense it and feel uncomfortable with you riding them. Embrace the experience and stay calm. One way to do this is to take big deep breaths before you mount and during your ride to remind yourself to relax and enjoy.


5. Holding the reins


When you’re riding your horse, you will be holding the reins in your hands to direct them. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, using the reins should be a gentle, yet firm act. Don’t pull too hard or fast because you don’t want to hurt your horse. You usually don’t need to raise the reins above your head. Keeping your arms relaxed is key to mastering this skill.


6. Keeping posture


Your wrangler will demonstrate the proper posture when sitting on and riding your horse. In general, your back should be straight and upright. Your posture is how you keep your balance. Instead of holding on to the saddle or reins for balance, you should keep your core tight and your back straight.


7. Connecting with the horse


Even beginner riders can use this riding tactic. As you ease into your ride, you might start to feel like you’re in a rhythm, and this is a good thing. This means that you and your horse are in tune. Remember that you are gently leading your horse, but you are also riding together as one.


or to book a trail ride, or horseback riding lesson.


about our individual lessons and 6-lesson riding package. ​

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