The difference between feeling worn out and feeling good at the end of a horseback ride depends largely upon how you sit in the saddle. The following is advice from Klay Klemic on how to sit in the saddle:
1. Keep your heels down and toes up. This will keep your balance proper and make your horseback ride much more comfortable. Riding a horse with your heels up will take a definite toll on your back, give you a horrible leg cramp, and will make you more prone to fall off the horse if he stops suddenly (even from a walk) or if you are going down even a tiny hill or dip.
2. Sit up. You don't quite need to sit like you're on parade, but you will probably feel like that is how you're sitting. If you slouch while you ride at a walk, you will eventually hurt your back,.
3. Look where you want to go- not just at your horse's ears. This will assist you in your efforts to sit up, will help you communicate with your horse when it comes to telling him where you want him to go, and will also make your horseback ride a lot more memorable because you will be seeing so much beautiful Zion and Bryce Canyon type of country rather than just seeing your horse's ears and whatever is five feet past your horse's ears. If you're anywhere near Zion National Park, you're in some of the most beautiful country in the world, so enjoy that view!
4. Breathe. Whenever we try anything new, we have a tendency to strain, to get tense and to hold our breath. The best way for you to resist the natural tendency of tensing up is simply to force yourself to breathe. You cannot force yourself to relax, but you can force yourself to breathe, and breathing will make you relax.
5. Do not balance with the reins or the saddle horn. You will have a much better horseback ride here in Utah if you will simply trust both your horse as well as your own balance and quit gripping onto the saddle or reins for dear life.
You physically cannot keep yourself in the saddle by means of your arms anyway. Even in a true saddlebronc/rodeo situation, balance is maintained by proper use of the seat and one hand on the bronc rein lifting straight up- never by holding as tight as you can and using brute arm strength. In addition, using the reins for balance unfairly pulls on the horse's mouth for no reason. The reins are there for communication with your horse; not for your own balance, so try to remember, your horse's mouth is sensitive- it's a mouth. You can't use it like it's a third stirrup for your balance or your horse's mouth will become desensitized and he will never know when you really want to stop or back up.
Lastly, if you are horseback riding with us here at Rising K Ranch, you can be pretty confident, as our horses have all taken many first-time horseback riders of all ages on the Utah trails.
If you keep these five tips in mind, you will be a good ways toward having a wonderful, memorable horseback ride. If you are ever out here in Utah visiting the Zion National Park area or the Bryce Canyon National Park area, I hope you will drop in and make use of these, and many other, horseback riding tips.
See you soon!