This guide was edited from its original version by the Hinders, who previously operated the Elk River Guest Ranch. It's a great guide for preparing for your horseback ride at the ranch, and I stumbled upon the guide cleaning out the basement. The Van Cleve Family, the original authers, own the Lazy K Bar Ranch in Big Timber, Montana. It's the oldest operating dude ranch in Montana and is celebrating its 90th year.
Preparing For a Ride:
No matter if you plan to ride for an hour or all day, the basic preparation is the same...you should always have these things:
1. A warm coat or cover-up
2. Comfortable clothing and boots with a slight heel
As they say, "climate is what to expect. Weather is what you get!"
No matter how beautiful and warm a day, mountain weather can change leaving you cold if you're not prepared. Generally, you don't need much but a long sleeve jacket or cover-up. Ideally, it should be something not only warm, but water proof in the event of sudden rain showers.
Extras but highly recommended:
A hat is always a good idea. It will not only protect your head and face from sunburn but will also keep you warm, if need be. While horseback riding, always secure your hat with a string or leather piece under your chin. You don't want to lose your hat, but more importantly, you don't want to scare the horses by having it fly off unexpectedly.
A lot of people choose to wear gloves while riding to protect their hands from chafing by the reins. Gloves also come in handy when it gets cold.
Wear long pants when horseback riding. If you chose to wear shorts, don't expect to have much skin on the inside of your legs when you're done! Long pants not only protect your legs from saddle sores, they'll also protect your legs from scratches by tree branches and shrubs likely to be encountered while trail riding.
Your feet should be clad in cowboy boots. As mentioned previously, everything a cowboy wears has a purpose. "Cowboy gear keeps 'em safe and able." Cowboy boots protect the rider from getting "hung-up" in the stirrup. If you don't have cowboy boots, try to wear some type of protective boot or shoe that has a decent heel. Or, borrow a pair of boots from our boot room in the barn!
Water should always be taken no matter where you go or what you're doing. A canteen or water bottle can easily be attached to the saddle. Remember you're located at an elevation of at least 7,502 feet in a very dry climate. You'll need to drink more water than usual at this altitude. If you don't have a water bottle, ask for one.