5 Ways to Make Your Horseback Ride More Enjoyableby Josh Wamboldt on 04/28/18
From a young age everyone’s heroes are cowboys. We all grow up playing cowboys and Indians. Some kids pretend they are rodeo cowboys, while others pretend they are Billy the Kid robbing a bank in the old wild west days. Being able to go on a horseback ride is a way to get away from reality and experience the west perhaps in a way that seems to take you back to your childhood days. Depending on the length of ride that you choose there are a few things that you can do to make it the most enjoyable for you so it will be a ride to always remember.
One of the most overlooked parts of a summer horseback ride is the attire worn. When you head out on your trip shorts and sandals may be what’s right on top of your suitcase, but proper clothing on a horseback ride can make or break the day. Depending on the area you are riding the terrain can vary. The particular area I guide in Colorado has a vast range of terrain, from sage brush to berry bushes all the way to pine trees and open meadows. Therefore, when you are on a horse you must be aware of branches that hang low or hinder the trail at times and rub up against your legs or wack you in the face. In order to keep our trails as rustic as possible we prefer not to chop trees or branches unless they become dangerous to riders. Therefore, wearing some sort of long pants is your best bet to keep from getting scrapes and scratches on your legs. Not only is that a benefit but it also keeps from awkward sunburns and tan lines at the end of the day.
Sunscreen is a huge amenity overlooked. Whether you are on a horse for 30 minutes or 6 hours sunscreen is something that needs to be worn, especially in the high country. Backs of necks, tops of ears and faces are a very common area for burns to occur. This proves the helpfulness and reason behind cowboys’ hats. Sunburns seem to occur very quickly atop a horse and there’s nothing worse than enjoying your ride just to be sore the next day from sunburns. Being sore from riding however, is just a part of the experience.
To stay on the topic of the sun, we will move to headwear. Most ranches should supply helmets but they are usually an optional piece for people over a certain age. Wearing a hat can be a game changer to your experience. Remember you are most likely going to be in and out of trees, and not in a constant shaded area. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can help keep sun off of your face and out of your eyes. I advise children absolutely do wear a helmet during their horseback ride for safety. If you are having trouble with your child not wearing a helmet don’t be afraid to ask your wrangler for some assistance. The wranglers are usually pretty good at persuading kids.
Most places you attend will have water or some sort of concession stand around. The option I recommend is to bring your own water bottle full of water. You will most likely have your own saddle bags on your saddle to put small items in so bringing an extra bottle or 2 would be beneficial. It’s surprising how much water you will drink out on a dusty hot trail. It will prove to you why those cowboys in the movies loved running their horses full bore into a nice cold river on a cattle drive.
Next is the footwear you choose to ride in. Over the years I have seen every type of footwear come through the ranch. Ask any person that has been around a horse for a period of time and ask how well horses are at stepping right on your toes when you least expect it. The horses don’t mean to intentionally step on you, its just that sometimes you both happen to place your feet in the same place at the same time. Please don’t wear sandals. They are a huge concern and are common eye candy for your wrangler to comment on. Wear some sort of close toes shoes that offer a tiny layer of fabric or leather and will help a ton on the chance that your horse may cross paths with your toes.
Being attentive to these 5 things can make your horseback ride the highlight of your summer. Don’t be afraid to ask about any concerns or questions you may have about your ride. The wranglers are there to educate you, keep you safe and help you enjoy your ride to the fullest extent. Do not be afraid to ask them questions, tell jokes and make them part of your family for the afternoon. One last little note, bring your camera! Then you will have proof that you got to be a cowboy or girl for the day! Please just make sure your camera has a wrist strap or neck strap to keep it safe just in case it slips from your hands. Many cameras and phones find their final resting place in the middle of a dusty trail. Most importantly have fun! Enjoy your experience with us and happy trails!