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6 Ways to Fit In on the Dude Ranch

6 Ways to Fit In on the Dude Ranch

Staying on a dude ranch can be a bit of a culture shock, especially if you aren’t used to a fairly rugged way of life, but given the frontiersman style traditions valued by these places, the last thing you want to do is look like completely ridiculous in your new surroundings. Follow these six tips and you’ll significantly raise your chances of blending in.

Time Your Dude Ranch Visit

The best times to visit a ranch are April through May and September through October. June through August tends to be the high season. In addition to the better rates in April through May and September through October, you’ll be able to enjoy your stay quite a bit more thanks to the cooler temperatures.

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Don’t Try to Prove Anything

One of the biggest mistakes that you can do is assume that this is easy and you can do anything. Stop and take a minute to learn the values and customs, along with the skills. Lassoing is fairly difficult, it’s not something that you can just pick up and master in a few seconds.

The same goes for riding a horse: Every horse is different, so you shouldn’t just expect to throw a saddle on a horse and take off. If you’ve never ridden a horse, don’t worry about it too much—most ranches have horses for those with different skill levels. Ask for advice on which horse to take, especially if you’ve never ridden one before. These ranches tend to offer rides two times a day, and they’re usually about two hours long, but you should really limit yourself to two hours instead of four. Four hours on a saddle can be quite painful if you aren’t used to it.

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You should also make an effort to understand the different types of riding that there are. Most ranch horses are trained for Western-style riding, which means that the saddle is a little bit larger and more comfortable. Reins are held in one hand rather than two, which leaves a hand completely free for lassoing or taking pictures and video.

Take a Deep Breath and Relax

Even though you may be nervous about riding a horse, you should try to relax. This isn’t the horse’s first time around the trail, and it certainly won’t be its last. Furthermore, horses can detect body language, so if you’re nervous, the horse is going to sense that. Keep your eyes on the trail and keep your nerves calm. You’ll get through this just fine.

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Get the Right Wardrobe

The wardrobe you have now isn’t going to cut it, so be sure to grab some durable men’s western workwear before going to the ranch. This includes fleece hooded jackets, boots, and pants. While most ranches usually supply cowboy boots and riding helmets, it’s never safe to assume that they will. Buy some in your size and don’t worry about what they have. Since you’re going to be out in the sun all day, it would be wise of you to get a wide-brimmed hat and some sunscreen.

Keep Your Balance

This relates to relaxing—you need to remain balanced while riding the horse. Having good posture in the saddle will reduce the pain you’re having from riding on the saddle. If you’re leaning to one side or the other, you’ll have discomfort. When going up a steep slope, you need to shift your center of gravity forward. When you’re going down a slope, you’ll do the opposite and shift your center of gravity back. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

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Control the Horse

Unless you establish some semblance of control, horses will tend to do what they want to do; some horses just want to be in the lead or act aggressively to other horses. Try to keep a horse length between you and the horse in front of you. Notice the horse’s actions. If the horse has its ears back, it’s either uncomfortable or irritated about something. It could be the way you’re sitting or holding the reigns, or it could be because other horses are nearby. Both of those situations are easily fixed, however, if you’re paying the proper attention.

Even if it’s not your first time to a ranch, you could benefit by utilizing some of these tips. It’s important that you don’t over-do it with cliché items and pretend to be something that you’re not. Be mindful and respectful of their way of life. When riding on horses, use common sense along with these tips to have a nice ride.

Now have your say: Have you ever been to a dude ranch? If so, what was your experience like? What did you do to prepare for your journey on the ranch?

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Last Updated on November 17, 2019

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

1. Make a gift bag.

A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

2. Give a toast.

Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

3. Write a poem.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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4. Create your own labels.

There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

5. Give a gift card.

Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

6. Send a letter.

Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

7. Use social media to send a special message.

If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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8. Make your own digital greeting card.

While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

9. Make a YouTube video.

Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

10. Deliver cookies or candies.

Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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12. Put together a flower basket.

Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

13. Take a picture.

Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

15. Do something special for them.

Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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16. Reciprocate their help.

Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

17. Be there for them.

Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

18. Listen to them.

Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

19. Say it in another language…or two…

A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

20. Show them some love.

A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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