10 Tips for Your First Guest Ranch Adventure

Summer is here, and horseback adventures are in full swing! If you are chomping at the bit to get your first guest ranch experience underway, here are 10 simple tips to make your first horseback getaway a success.

Know Before You Go

Research thoroughly to prepare, before you embark on your adventure. Here are 3 things to confirm or double-check before your arrival.

  • What’s the weather? This is especially important if you’re traveling out-of-state to a climate you’re not used to. Is it going to be far hotter than where you’re coming from? Is it the monsoon season where rain is expected every afternoon? Plan accordingly after checking the weather forecast, especially if long-distance travel is involved.
  • Pack properly. If you’re looking to get in the saddle during your guest ranch adventure, pack properly. Summertime might be all about swimsuits and sandals, but proper riding attire will keep you comfortable and safe. Bring appropriate footwear to ride in, (leave the open-toed shoes at home) and wear jeans. Consider wearing layers if you’re starting out in the morning as the temperature might be lower in the morning and rise throughout the day. Wear clothes you can comfortably move in, and that you’re open to getting dirty!
  • Check with the ranch. Do your research on the guest ranch where you will be staying. Read through any FAQs they have posted, and reach out ahead of time with questions. Should you bring snack and water? What are the accomodations? Be prepared for GPS to not work correctly if your guest ranch destination isn’t in an area with good cell service. Read through the rules and guidelines so that you can have a safe and enjoyable stay, and be a good guest.
Be prepared for your first guest ranch adventure, by doing your research ahead of time. Jim Glab/adobe.stock.com

Safety First

Safety is paramount when spending time around horses. Whether you’re an experienced rider, or climbing into the saddle for the first time, be alert and aware. Here are 3 ways to stay safe when on your first horseback adventure.

  • Be calm and confident. Horses, being perceptive animals, can pick up on your emotions. Stay composed and self-assured to establish a positive rapport with your assigned horse. Try to release tension you’re holding in your thighs and calves to avoid sending mixed signals to your horse. Breathe and know that the guest ranch won’t put you on a dangerous horse!
  • Listen to instructions. Pay close attention to the guidance provided by the ranch staff to ensure safety, learn proper riding techniques, and make the most of your horseback adventure. The wranglers and staff are there to keep you safe, keep the horses safe, and help you have a good time. Keep your ears open for instruction, and follow their guidance. Hubris and ego have no place in the saddle, so be willing to listen and learn.
  • Ask questions. Especially if this is your first time in the saddle, understand that there will be a lot you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask the wranglers or staff questions. They are there to help, and happy to assist you in establishing a good connection with your horse. Remember, there are no dumb questions. Don’t know how to mount? Just ask! Not sure how much of your foot to put in the stirrup? There’s someone there that knows the answer! Part of staying safe is asking questions instead of making assumptions that could potentially lead to a dangerous situation.

Relax and Enjoy

At the end of the day, you’re time at a guest ranch should be filled with fun, adventure, beautiful scenery, and heartwarming memories. It’s a privilege to spend time with horses, and they can bring you joy you didn’t even think imaginable. Here are four ways to relax and enjoy your time spent in the saddle.

  • Engage with your horse. Establish a connection with your horse through gentle interactions, mutual respect, and positive energy, fostering a trusting relationship throughout the ride. It’s hard to build rapport in just a day, but trust that the ranch has provided you with a horse that fits your riding ability and needs, and enjoy the ride!
  • Take in the scenery. Most guest ranches are set in idyllic settings, where the scenery is breathtaking. Heading out on horseback can take you to sights that you wouldn’t see from the road. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding the ranch as you ride, embracing the serenity and unique experience of exploring on horseback. Take photos to remember the moment, but also try and stay present and grounded. Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the wildlife, and pat your horse on the neck for showing you around.
  • Expect to be sore. Often, first time riders are surprised at how sore they are after time spent in the saddle! There’s a reason that the term ‘saddle-sore’ exists. You’ll be using muscles in your legs that you might not be used to using, and don’t be alarmed if you find yourself sore the next day. Some light stretching before you ride, and after can help prevent this.
  • Embrace the adventure. Things might not go according to plan when there are horses or other live animals involved. There will probably be moments where all you can do is laugh and appreciate that it will make for a good story later on. Fully immerse yourself in the experience, cherish the moments spent riding through picturesque landscapes, and cherish the memories created during your first guest ranch horseback adventure.

[Read: Post-Ride Stretches You Need to Try]

Ride On!

At the end of the day, your time spent at a guest ranch is meant to show you new scenery, new experiences, and to create memories that will last a lifetime. If you’ve never ridden before, you are in for a treat. Being in the presence of horses is a beautiful thing. Soak up their calming nature, and relax in their peaceful presence. Pack appropriately, tip your guides, listen to instruction, and afterwards, don’t be surprised if you find yourself itching for more time spent in the saddle!

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