One of the most commonly asked questions I hear from beginners to horseback riding is, "If I am afraid, will my horse act differently?"
The answer is ,"Yes". If you are afraid of horseback riding, the horse will certainly behave differently with you than he would with a confident rider.
This does not necessarily mean that the horse will hurt you or run off with you; it just means that the horse will take advantage of the situation to do whatever he wants. For example, with regards to most of the horses that you would ride along the trails here at Rising K Ranch, this simply means that your horse will be a bit slower and stop to eat grass much more frequently.
If a horse is "green" (new to the experience of being ridden), you would have an entirely different situation. A green horse does not yet feel confident under saddle, so is much more likely to spook at a rabbit, or jacket, or even just a large boulder along the trail. For a horse like this, he will sense your fear and think to himself, "If the human, my leader, the alpha, the top of the food chain, is afraid, then there must really be something scary out here." For the green horse ,your fear will very likely cause him to want to run off towards the home barn, jump away from every bush and tree he sees, and perhaps even buck. This has been the experience of many beginner horseback riders with a well-meaning neighbor, uncle or grandfather who owns a horse and decides to let them ride. In many cases, such a person who is offering horseback ride has a horse that either never was quite as well-trained as he likes to imagine; or the horse has just not been ridden for several moths and now is being pulled out to be ridden without any warm-up exercises.
Such is the case of a "green" horse and such is the case with a horse that hasn't been ridden for a while. Here at Rising K Ranch, however, our horses are so used to being ridden by first-time riders, even by small, screaming children, that they no longer think in terms of, "If a human is afraid, there must be something to be afraid of." They now think instead in terms of, "The human is afraid, so I know they won't actually pull on the reins to make me stop eating. Now is my chance to eat, eat , and eat until the wrangler comes to make me stop. I bet I can get at least three mouthfuls of grass by then!"
If you should find yourself visiting Zion National Park, or Bryce Canyon National Park, I hope you will drop by our ranch for some horseback riding out here on the Utah trails!