There's and Old-timers joke, "If you're knees hurt, your stirrups are too short, if your seat hurts, the stirrups are too long. If everything hurts, the stirrups are perfect!"
Really though, if you want a comfortable horseback ride as you travel with us here in the Zion/ Bryce Canyon area, remember two things:
1. Keep your heels down. This position allows your legs to conform to the saddle rather than make your thighs chafe against it. It also keeps you on your back pockets, deep in the saddle so you are much, much less likely to fall off your horse. (It is almost impossible to fall your horse off as long you remain in a "heels down, deep in the saddle" position). Lastly, it will keep your back from getting sore. If any part of your body is sore (apart from your seat) either you are riding wrong or your saddle is not adjusted properly.
2. Breathe. Often, people tense up when they try something new. However, the more you relax (even if you are riding a bronc in a rodeo) the better you will do. You can't really force yourself to relax, but you can force yourself to breathe, which in turn causes you to relax. It will also cause the horse to relax. So, while being tense creates a vicious cycle of the horse getting nervous and doing wild things, making you more tense, making the horse more nervous etc., being calm creates a cycle of both horse and rider thinking through what they are doing rather than panicking.
We truly have some of the most beautiful country in the world here between Zion and Bryce Canyon, so I hope you will take advantage of it by seeing it the same way so many of the first settlers dd- by horseback! Follow your instructor's advice and you will soon be riding a horse better than you ever even thought about before!
Happy trails to You!
-from Klay Klemic at Rising K Ranch