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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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