Horsetrotting.net is two years old! To celebrate, I’m revisiting my favourite six awesome horse adventures posted on the site, and of course, I’m writing more bi-monthly. Also, I recently added a search tab on the main page, so please check out some older posts if you are looking for a specific locale to get horsey. Happy trails and many more to come…
- Ishestar Riding Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland
I love Iceland, and my ride through this landscape was what convinced me to ride everywhere I go (and blog about it). In Iceland, there’s no industrial air pollution and, for an hour and a half on an Icelandic Pony, I felt transported back in time. We crossed a small stream, cold on the horse’s legs and some were reluctant to go. But on the other side was a patch of green grass, a treat after a nine-month long winter that sees very little sunlight. The second time out at the Ishestar Riding Centre, I opted to go with the fast group. So we headed down a more hilly trail, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting and sometimes full out galloping past dusty boulders and clumps of wildflowers. These animals are surprisingly comfortable at a canter, yet incredibly bouncing during their unique walk-trot gait.
- Sturgeon River Ranch Adventures, Big River, Saskatchewan
This was the first time I slept outside with no running water or bathroom. If it hadn’t been for the horses, I wouldn’t have done it ever. Sturgeon River Ranch Adventures in Big River, Saskatchewan is a trail riding outfitter offering three- and five-hour rides into the remote part of the park, as well as the grand-daddy of all western adventures: two, three and four nights under the stars around a campfire, cooking over an open fire and sleeping in a teepee. When those from afar picture Canada, images of vast expanses of wilderness track come to mind. Yet it’s an experience fewer nationals will seek out. The crew does a great of job of guiding experienced and non-experienced riders (in Western saddles) through the brush, along the hill’s edge and into open swampy fields in search of wild bison that still roam this national park. 3. Ogmore-by-the-Sea, Cardiff, Wales At the Ogmore-by-the-sea riding school, a family farm outside of the country’s capital city Cardiff and adjacent to the Merthyr Mawr Warren National Nature Reserve near stretches of beach, steep cliffs, sand dunes and forest, I rode a sturdy, obedient, Irish Cobb. Yet I was concerned my weekly riding training wasn’t up to British standard. Turned out, I was right. We started slowly, then were off – the group cantering across the beach, trotting through narrow winding paths through the forest. At my insistence, we walked up the side of a hill to stand for a moment and took in the surveyor’s eye view of one of the many sea-connected straights that spray this hardy country with a coating of chill vapour.
- Red Rock Canyon Stables, Las Vegas, Nevada
Next on the list is the early morning – really early morning – ride to the top of a mountain via the Red Rock Overlook Sunrise trail adventure from Cowboy Trail Rides at Red Rock Canyon Stables, Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a beautiful climb, even steep in some places, and I actually had to concentrate, sit correctly and remind myself to relax for the first time on a trail ride. The soil in the area is red due to mineral content, which allows more plant growth than the rest of the desert. Small prairie dog-like animals scamper about and apparently, so do endangered land tortoise. The trails are rocky and steep, and significant forward and back leaning is mandatory. It`s not a ride for beginners, though one I’m glad I accomplished.
- Fox Lair Stables, Canfield, Ontario
Winter wasn’t high on the list until I took my first (yes, first) winter trail ride in negative two degree temperature (balmy compared to the previous days’ negative 15 plus wind chill). It was a beautiful slow ride weaving through the treed land owned by Fox Lair Stables, a trail riding, boarding and lesson facility in Canfield, Ontario. In 1995 Steff and Kevin Fox (hence the name) bought the property to follow their horsey passion. While the route was typical of most rides, flat easy and forested, what I loved about this place was the obvious affection this family has for their horses. It isn’t just a family horse business; at Fox Liar Stables horses are family and part of the business just like the kids.
- Horse Adventure Tours, Outerbanks (OBX), North Carolina
While not technically a trail ride, the Hummer Tour to see the Wild Horses of the OBX was a highlight of my year. Being one of a party of two in a car of six people (with Wild Horse Adventure Tours) means I got the front seat of this rock and roll tour over sand dunes and around sinkholes in search of wild horses along the coast of North Carolina. The animals freely roam the Corolla beaches and people are to stay 50 feet away. Accessible to the beach is via four-wheel drive vehicle only – the beach is the only official ‘road’ – hence the popularity (and necessity) of Hummer and jeep tours. These horses, though seemingly mythical, were not hiding. We found mares and fouls easily in tall grasses and even in the driveways and carparks of the few beach houses dotting the sandscape. The stallions were always nearby keeping an eye on curious tourists. Dreaming of other rides? Check out the first of the year fantasy list here.