At Rancho Las Cascadas, we ride charro style. It’s not the typical Western riding you’d find in the United States. The saddles are a bit deeper and the reins are bit shorter but the basics of riding are the same. Here are a few things to remember as you prepare for your next ride with us:
Balance is key.
Riding is more about balance than gripping with your legs. Try to sit squarely in the saddle with your feet pressed firmly and evenly on the stirrups. Keep your back and shoulders straight (do not slouch!) and tighten your core muscles to maintain an upright position from your head to your heels. Move your body with the horse and relax. The more tense you are, the more you will bounce. Stay in tune with how your horse is moving so that you can maintain balance through all the turns, hops and stops.
Push your weight down through your heels.
Place only the ball of your foot (the widest part behind your toes) on the stirrup and push your heels down, forcing your toes to point towards the sky. This helps keep your balance and takes the pressure of your weight off the saddle so you can move with the horse.
Pay attention to your reins.
Hold the reins evenly in one hand. Provide enough slack to avoid contact with the horse’s mouth but not so much that you cannot quickly stop the horse if needed.
Look where you are going.
Horses are very intuitive. They feel the slightest movements and are great at reading our intentions. So always look ahead to where you want to go. This, along with your legs and reins, will help guide the horse.
Don’t forget to breathe while riding. Beginners have a tendency to hold their breath, especially as the horse moves up in speed and gait. Not only will this give you a side ache and back ache but it will also transmit emotional tension to your horse. Sit, relax and enjoy the ride.