Places to Go Western Riding

By: Janine Carter

Horseback riding vactions are a time of the year that horse lovers look forward to, whether its with the whole family with kids included or just the two of you. Here we will talk about a few vacation spots to take your horses to, or if thats not possible rent the horse, saddle and tack right there. Either way you will have a great western riding experience.

Walden Creek Stables in the Smokey Mountains of East Tennessee is our first stop. This riding stable has five hundred acres with one-hundred horses and fifty riding cowboys to keep the action going for seven days a week, and that includes Christmas Day. So you can pretty much plan a trip here all hear round complete with saddle and tack. This Stable has horses for every level of horsemanship so there are no worries there. Not only do they have several trails to choose from but on special nights there is a Wild West Show with live entertainment.

Now lets jump on over to Wyoming where jumping in the saddle all tacked up and riding horses is just about second nature. Bitterroot Cattle Roundup is a great place to learn to ride in some of the most beautiful country you'll ever see. The Bitterroot cattle graze on the adjacent national forest land from July to October. Guests who ride well enough can help the cowboys with the work of herding the cows into the mountains the first week of July and rounding them up again in the last week of September, known as the "roundup". The cattle are spread out over fifty square miles of high mountains, forests, clearings and river valleys. When you return to your log cabin each evening, you'll have a nice cozy bed waiting for you.

One of the most awesome places in the world is in the Grand Canyon located in Utah and Arizona. Grand Canyon Winter Pastures is one of the few stables that allows you to ride your horse down in to the canyon all saddled up with pack horses. This trip is not to be confused with infamously tedious donkey rides. This is a rigorous horse pack trip into some of the canyon's least frequented drainages. Often riders need to dismount in order to lead their horses throught hazardous spots. Checking your saddle and tack often is the norm on this trip to make sure all is secure. The groups are small and everyone must be willing to pitch in around camp. The scenery alone is worth the trip.

Now we find ourselves in California at the Redwood Coast Ride stable. This ride goes everywhere from sandy beaches of the Pacific to the majestic redwood forests in northern California. Your riding guide has twenty-five years experience as a riding instructor. I would say a beginning rider might want to take a few lessons before trying this ride, although it is certainly more tame than the Grand Canyon adventure above.

So far we haven't talked that much about beginner riders or lessons. At Medicine Hat Trail Ride in Carthage, MO, you can find a place to do both. You start off by learn how to groom and prep a horse for riding to putting on all the tack, then on to the trail for an hour long lesson that is relaxing and educational. While riding, you learn all the little signs of reading a horses disposition with the position of his ears and a swish of his tail. Great for kids and adults alike.

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