5 Useful Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders of Any Skill Level

If you’ve never been on a horse before or if you’ve only mounted up for a few short rides, exploring the Black Range Mountains of New Mexico on horseback might seem equal parts idyllic and daunting. After all, you are entrusting your safety to an animal with a mind of its own. With the right instruction, and these essential horseback riding tips for trail riders you will be able to create a good partnership with your horse! When you visit Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, we’ll show you the ropes and pair you with a well-trained  horse for your adventure in the great outdoors. We’ll even create a customized New Mexico Itinerary with all your preferences so you’re always comfortable on your ride! 

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Review These Horseback Riding Tips for Trail Riders Before You Hit the Trail  

The Horse Is Your Partner 

Riding a horse is only deeply enjoyable when you recognize that a horse isn’t a tool to be used, it’s your partner. Pay attention to what your horse looks at, how it reacts to various things around it (including you), what it does with its eyes, ears, and tail as you get to know it and learn to work with it. Approach riding a horse as teamwork, not as an animal that needs to be controlled. 

Be a Leader  

Due to a horse’s nature, there is little it can sniff out faster than your fear. When you are afraid, horses will typically react in one of two ways: they’ll get scared too or they will take advantage of you.  

Horses turn to their riders to keep them safe and direct them. They appreciate having a rider they can understand and trust. Understanding comes with being firm and direct while still being kind. We will give you lots more pointers on this in our orientation and initial instruction before your first ride! 

Understand Pressure and Release  

One of the most basic principles of riding or teaching a horse is that “pressure motivates, and release teaches.” Squeezing with your legs to ask a horse to move forward, or pulling gently on the reins to turn, is applying pressure. The horse wants to remove the pressure and will take action to make the pressure stop. When your horse responds, stop the pressure and it will know it did the right thing. Squeezing with your legs means go. Sitting still with your seat and pulling back on the reins means stop. If you push with one leg against the horse’s side, it should move in the opposite direction. If you apply a right or left neck rein, the horse will turn in that direction. The most important thing is remembering to release the pressure once your horse does what you want! 

Reward Your Horse  

Horses are happier and more willing partners when you are a good leader and make them feel appreciated. A gentle rub and kind words go a long way, as they create a special bond between the horse and rider. Remember, since a horse can feel a fly land on it, a gentle rub is going to feel much better to them than a pat or slap! When you are done riding for the day, stick around down at the barn to brush your horse after we unsaddle them as a nice way to reward them for your ride and spend some time bonding with them!

Relax and Have Fun  

Probably the single most important thing you can do is relax – no matter how your ride is going. When you stay calm you stay in control (or can get it back quickly when the horse goes off-roading for the green growing snack). Remember, if you are tense your horse can sense that and will either get nervous too or start to take advantage of you because you are not being the leader they need! Plus, when you are relaxed – you are having fun! 

Ride Home to Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch  

Whether you’re visiting from nearby or traveling from anywhere else in the country, you won’t find better horseback riding than in the Gila National Forest. From Ponderosa forests, to open meadows, mountain overlooks to canyons and creeks, this pastime is the ideal way to take in the wonder of The Land of Enchantment.

Our serene and secluded guest ranch is located off the beaten path in the mountains of Southwest New Mexico, so you can disconnect and surround yourself with nothing but nature. Make yourself at home in any of our comfortable cabins and treat yourself to a series of delicious homestyle meals each day of your stay. Whether you’re traveling with a partner or the whole family, horseback riding in the Gila National Forest of Southwest New Mexico is an adventure you’ll never forget!  

Check our availability and book your horseback riding adventure to The Land of Enchantment today!