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Overnight Colorado Horse Trips

Fall is one of the most beautiful times to ride in Colorado with the changing leaves, cool weather and minimal tourism traffic.  In the last couple of years, we have explored a few Colorado places to camp with our horses and trail ride.  Here are some of the places offered in our beautiful state that provide overnight facilities for people and horses.  For more information, details and additional ideas see Margi Evans’ book:  Riding Colorado III:  Day and Overnight Trips with your horse.

Make reservations as far ahead as you can, but often in the late fall there are openings for spontaneous trips.  Make sure you have all of the health papers you need ready specific to the facility.  You may need a current negative Coggins test, possibly a vaccination record and/or a health certificate within the last 30 days.  If travelling over 75 miles from home, you will need a brand inspection.   Some places require certified weed-free hay.

Beaver Meadows Resort, Red Feather Lakes, CO, beavermeadow.com, 970-881-2450

Beautiful common area with beaver ponds, general store and restaurant.  A great place for non-horse folks too!  Many, many well marked trails for different loop options every day.  Several small stream crossings.  Horses:  Pens at the horse stable area or large pens at campsites with nearby water.  People:  Many options including cabins, condos, hotel rooms and horse camp sites.  There are no hook ups at the horse camping area, but it is along a beautiful stream in a private setting.

Mill Creek Ranch (formally known as Old Cow Town Colorado), Saguache, CO, millcreekcolorado.com, 719-655-2224

No expense was spared designing and building this recently built cow town.  There is a restaurant, saloon, general store, museum, social club and more.  Bring more that your horse friends and family, there is something here for everyone.  Surrounded by National Forest, there are many trail riding options to explore like Hoaglund Mountain and the Hodding Creek Area.  Horses:  Very nice stall barn to outdoor pens.  People: Many options of cabins, the Social Club or a nice RV area near the barn and pens with hookups.

Homestead Meadows from Hermit Park Campground, Estes Park, CO, 800-397-7795

Ride to Homestead Meadows from Campground.  The trail tours through a registered National Historic District.  The area was first settled in the 1800’s and the last resident in 1952.  Each homestead is labeled telling about each homesteader family.  Two days recommended to really explore.  Horses:  One or two pens per site, but keep in mind they are too small to really put two horses in one.  Nice pens with good ground and shade.  People:  Tent camping or living quarters trailers, but no hook ups. Restrooms available and water down near pavilion or entry.  Bring water for you and your horse.

Indian Creek Campground, Sedalia, CO, fs.usda.gov/activity/psicc/recreation/horseriding-camping, 877-444-6777

Several options for trailing riding in the area including the Indian Creek Equestrian Trail, a segment of the Colorado Trail, and the Ringtail Trail.  Horses:  Hitching posts, water spigots and pens at sites, some shaded.  People:  Nice campground with restrooms in the loop, picnic tables, fire pits and tent sites.  There are a couple sites that would work well for living quarters trailers, but there are no hook ups.

M Lazy C Ranch, Lake George, CO, mlazyc.com, 719-148-3398

Meals available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Some nights there is a chuckwagon dinner with hay rides, reservations required.  Surrounded by National Forest, there are many trails to explore.  On the 4WD roads you may encounter ATV’s that were always very respectful of the horses.  There are plenty of single track trails to explore with no ATV’s.  Beautiful open areas and distant mountain views.  You can camp here and trailer to Dome Rock as well.  Horses:  Two pens at each campsite and the ability to add more.  Some of the pens have roofs. Water at each site.  People:  There are some cabins and rooms available near the main area with pen options for horses as well as a round pen and outdoor arena.  Great camping area with different configurations.  Water, electric, fire pits and picnic tables at sites.  Also, a round pen and several trail obstacles in camping area.

Mill Creek Ranch (formally known as Old Cow Town Colorado), Saguache, CO, millcreekcolorado.com, 719-655-2224

No expense was spared designing and building this recently built cow town.  There is a restaurant, saloon, general store, museum, social club and more.  Bring more than your horse friends and family, there is something here for everyone.  Surrounded by National Forest, there are many trail riding options to explore like Hoaglund Mountain and the Hodding Creek Area.  Horses:  Very nice stall barn to outdoor pens.  People: Many options of cabins, the Social Club or a nice RV area near the barn and pens with hookups.

Mueller State Park, Teller County, CO, cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Mueller/Pages/Activities.aspx, 800-678-2267

Extensive trails for riding, plus you can connect to the Dome Rock area with additional trails.  Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in this area as well.  There are a few areas where horses are not allowed which are marked.  Horses:  Stalls/pens available at the stable area.  There are only two horse camping spots with pens that are a little ways from the main area.  No hookups here.  People:  Lodging available at the main area or there are the two horse camping sites.

Oleo Ranch, Lake City, CO, oleoranch.com, 281-728-0267

10,500 feet elevation.  There is an old 1800’s stagecoach road bed, local trails and the Colorado Trail and Continental Trail both come through here.  Horses:  free horse corrals, water available.  People:  Seven different cabins to rent with refrigerators and hot water.  No internet or wifi.

Sun Canyon Ranch, Dove Creek, CO, suncanyonranch.com, 970-677-3377

Great riding from the ranch as well as fishing, nearby historic Indian Ruins, Cowboy Supper and Show, and more!  Horses:  Stalls, paddocks, panel pens, pasture and round pen.  People:  Beautiful lodge as well as 12 RV sites with water and electric and 5 tent sites.

Tutor Rose Bed & Breakfast, Salida, CO, thetudorrose.com, 800-379-0889

The Tutor Rose property adjoins BLM land through which you access the Lost Trail, to the new Little Rainbow Trail, to the Rainbow Trail.  Head north or south from here.  Beautiful trail along the east side of the Sangre De Cristo mountains.  Old roads, lakes, mines, and stream crossings over decent footing with some exposed roots and rocks.  Horses:  Various horse accommodations from stalls to paddocks.  People:  Main house with rooms as well as Chalets that sleep up to six.

The Wilderness Cabin, Gunnison County, CO, coloradowildernesscabin.com, 970-527-3010

Trails like Little Robinson Trail #850 and Kaufman Creek Trail #852 are highly rated for beauty and views.  There are some full day rides as well.  Horses:  Metal sectional pens that the owners will reconfigure for you with water near pens.  People:  Large, beautiful three-story lodge with a hot tub plus an additional cabin.

Winding River Resort, Grand Lake, CO, windingriverresort.com, 970-627-3215 or 303-623-1121

Trail ride into Rocky Mountain National Park and there is also forest service land that adjoins one side of the resort that ATV’s can access – bring ATV’s and horses to ride in different areas.  The check in for horses was a bit stringent.  We saw moose every day.  Recommended trails are the River Trail, Green Mountain Trailhead to the Big Meadows Loop, and Onahu Trail all in RMNP.  Pancake breakfast on Sundays.  We went to Grand Lake Lodge that was about 5 minutes away for breakfast one day and a couple dinners in Grand Lake at night.  Horses:  Nice panels pens which can be made larger or smaller with water close by.  We did not see any flies and noticed the wranglers using Fly Predators.  There is a general pen area if you are in a cabin or lodge or pens at your site if you are camping.  People:  Lodge rooms, separate cabins and many campsites available.

Time for Trail Riding!

“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”  Winston Churchill

As mountain residents, we enjoy some of the most beautiful trails in the nation to ride our horses on.  Not just a few, but several right in our backyards, not to mention the amazing places all over our state.  Riders down the hill go to a lot of effort just to come to our local trails.  While many local horse people are very comfortable riding local trails, others may need people to ride with or the fear of the unknown keeps them from venturing out.  Some friends moving here from the west coast noted that in California, horse riders are more concentrated into communities, but here we are spread out and it can be difficult to connect.

Margi Evans, author of Riding Colorado I, II & III spoke at the March Intermountain Horse Association meeting.  Not only is she a lovely person, she is a trail blazing dynamo with her large Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods that she also shows in 4th level Dressage.  Trail riders come from all disciplines and use trail riding as a break from the arena or a horses usual job.  Of course it is also a great way to socialize, enjoy riding and Colorado with friends and family.

As trail riders, we hold quite a bit of responsibility in our hands.  Our most important job (other than staying alive) is as horse riding ambassadors to keep the trails and parking lots accessible to our horses and rigs.  It is no secret that the majority of the local trail users are bikers and hikers.  We are the minority, but pedestrians and bikers must yield to us, because plainly, we could be killed if something goes awry.  Hold that privilege and responsibility with appreciation and respect.

Be kind, be aware of your surroundings.  Most bikers and hikers encountered are aware of our frailty and predicament.  As prey animals, horses get a little nervous when encountering fast moving people on wheels and people hiding in bushes ready to pounce on them, not to mention the dog that has been waiting for the chance for a good sniff of a horse.  The majority pull off the trail, stand in a conspicuous place and talk to the horses.  Avoid being rude or bossy.  We need to get along with our fellow trail users.  Start a pleasant conversation with them to get them talking.  Let them know that your horse needs to see and hear them.

Be proactive and aware of your surroundings.  If possible, put the more trail savvy horses at the front and back of your party.  That way if a bike comes up quickly, the horse is less likely to fear it is a mountain lion.  Of course, stay on the trail (unless muddy) and walk while passing other trail users.  If you are on a young horse or one with little trail experience, keep your eyes open and as soon as you see a bike or person, talk to your horse and the person.  If the trail allows, turn your horse toward the person/bike as soon as you notice them so your horse can get a good look at them.  If possible, pony young horses initially off of more experienced horses to get them used to the trails and other users.

Venturing first on more open trails is wise.  Open trails give your horse a chance to see someone coming from a distance.  You can step off the trail and let your horse see the bike coming.  Some open trails under an hour from our area are Bear Creek Lake Park, Chatfield Park, parts of Elk Meadow and Mount Falcon.

Take care of each other and ride to the level of the least experienced horse or rider in your party.  If you want to go on a fitness ride, go out with others with the same goal.  If you are meeting various friends and friends of friends, consider it more social and be flexible.  Although in our mountains, no matter the speed, you and your horse will get a work out.    Get a feel for the other riders and their horses.  If you think you might want to trot, ask everyone in the party if they would be comfortable first.  Then, let them know when you are transitioning back to a walk.  A big no-no in trail riding is to take off at a canter/gallop without warning.  This is very unkind to your fellow riders.  Many a person has been bucked off or taken off with because of such idiocy.

Some of our best local horse trails include Alderfer Three Sisters, Kenosha Pass, Pine Valley Ranch, Elk Meadow Park, Flying J, Beaver Brook Watershed, Mount Evans Wilderness, Gashouse Gulch, Little Scraggy Peak and Miller Gulch.  I recommend going early or later in the day, even after dinner is a great time during our long daylight hours in the summer.  In addition, weekdays can be wonderfully quiet at local parks.

To meet more horse people to ride with, become a member of local groups like Intermountain Horse Association, Jefferson County Horse Council and the Buffalo Bill Saddle Club that has recently been reformed.  Riding horses is one of the most natural ways to experience the beauty and peacefulness of the mountains.  Wildlife are more comfortable with our horses than people on their own and horses can take us places we would struggle to go without them.  Stay safe and enjoy your summer riding around our beautiful state with your horses and friends!

Resources:

Margi Evans’ Riding Colorado I – II and III books are a must have for Colorado trail riders.

ridingcolorado.equineexplorer.com

mtnhomes4horses.com/category/trail_guide

jeffco.us/open-space/parks/

horsechannel.com/horse-news/2013/09/13-trail-etiquette.aspx

Heather McWilliams © 2017

Trail Riding Competition with local David Richards

David and his wife Elizabeth live in the Hangen Ranch area and David is more familiar than most with the country around Alderfer Three Sisters, Elephant Butte and more as he keeps his horses fit for competition.  David moved to the US from the United Kingdom in the early 1980’s.   His love for the horse is apparent as you learn more about him and how he has been a continual student of the horse to give his own the best care possible.  In trail riding competition there is something for every level of rider and type of horse.  As with any sport, the higher level of competition, the more intricate the training, nutrition and fitness.  David started competitive trail riding as a novice just getting into horses and found his niche in this great sport.  In addition to the benefits of just being outside with your horse, is the gorgeous scenery to be found at the competitions.  Check out the websites for more information.  David is currently competing on “Chanz”, a 12-year-old Arabian from the Rush Creek Ranch in Nebraska, who bred and used Arabians for their ranch work.  Rush Creek Arabians are sought after endurance horses and have won many top competitions.  His former competition horse, Excepzional is an 18-year-old gray Polish Arabian. 

David and Excepzional in Moab

David and Excepzional in Moab

 

My wife, Elizabeth, and I moved to Colorado in 1996 for a better quality of outdoor living than was possible in NE Oklahoma. Also, having determined we needed a hub airport, four-year public university availability, and a high quality of life to be able to attract engineering talent to my company, we begun a location search. After considering the Chicago, Dallas, Salt Lake and Atlanta areas, we settled on Denver as our hub. Following an extensive tour of Front Range communities in Colorado, we finally arrived in Evergreen where it was evident that this was THE place to experience mountain living while enjoying easy access to the amenities of a major metropolitan area.

Around 2000, we decided that an ideal motivation to get out and explore Colorado, would be by owning horses of which neither of us had done before. For my wife this meant purchasing an ex national champion Paso Fino who turned out to be one of the most difficult of horses away from the arena.

I was undecided since my limited experience in organized trail riding had not excited me. However, once I learned about endurance competition and the fact that you did not have to grow up on a horse to participate, I realized I had found my sport. This led to the purchase of a breeding Arabian stallion, Excepzional. This 3 ½ year old, magnificent animal was almost totally “green” and with little experience being a horse. Consequently, I suffered many unscheduled dismounts and usually arrived back at the barn considerably later than my horse.

David and Excepzional in South Dakota

David and Excepzional in South Dakota

Three months of six evenings a week training loosely based upon Pat Parelli’s methods, yielded a completely different horse: one that I was able to put into conditioning training and limited distance competition as a four-year old.

There are two primary types of long distance trail competition. One, organized by NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference NATRC.org) is like time trials where a set distance has to be completed in a certain time with penalties for too early and too late. Rolled into this is horsemanship judging where handling of the horse on the trail and in camp is judged along with evaluation of horse and rider to negotiate obstacles in a controlled manner. Typically, NATRC has 25 to 35 mile one day rides and 40 mile two-day competitions in novice and experienced categories.

The second competition is AERC’s (American Endurance Ride Conference AERC.org) endurance competitions. These events are offered as single day competitions, or multi-day longer distance rides including 5-day 50 miles per day. Endurance competitions are 50 miles or more each day with a completion time of less than 12 hours. 100 mile competitions have to finish within 24 hours (including vet checks). Riders compete by weight class from feather to heavyweight as well as classes for juniors.   Endurance rides are outright speed competitions with the fastest horse across the line that can be considered “fit to continue”, the winner.

For either type of competition, the training is similar. First is the building of cardio-vascular systems, then muscle, and finally bone density. This is accomplished by gradually increasing the distance and then speed of training but overall, long and slow is the best means to build endurance. Heart rate monitors are often used to measure the horses’ response to training with lower heart rates corresponding to higher fitness levels for given training intervals.

David and Excepzional

David and Excepzional

Horses often start out competing at shorter distances such as 25 miles and then progress to full distance in their second season. However, for many riders, the shorter distances are fun and less stressful on the horse and they stick with the shorter distances for their entire career.

Getting started in trail competition is as simple as just turning up and volunteering to help out. This can get someone comfortable with the how the events are run and a great way to meet people who can mentor the newcomer.

There is nothing like competing to provide the motivation to get out of the house and spend some quality time with your horse. All breeds can participate but, of course, some may be more competitive than others. Trail Riding Competition often suits owners who enjoy visiting fantastic locations around the country and the camaraderie that competing brings.

David Richards (and Heather McWilliams) © 2016

Mount Falcon State Park, Indian Hills

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Trail Ride:  Mount Falcon State Park

Near:  Evergreen, Indian Hills, Morrison

Website:  Parking, map and more – http://jeffco.us/parks/parks-and-trails/mount-falcon-park/

Notes:  For our first planned ride this season we met at Hilltop Stable in Indian Hills and rode the 10 minutes up to Mount Falcon. The footing is very good for most of the trail and the views of the front range, red rocks and everything else you can see from this vantage point were AMAZING! A few bikes, but mostly hikers. The horses were excellent ambassadors. Restrooms along the way. There are several loop combinations you could do here.

 

Summer Event Calendar!

What are you and your horse going to do during our amazing Colorado summers?  Have a horse-crazy kid?  This is the time of year to start making your plans!  Here is a list of horse related activities for our area.  More detailed information can be found under the Event tab or at the website specified.  Also under Event tab – find, add or even sync to your own calendar.   Learn something or go somewhere new!

COLORADO HORSECARE FOODBANK, horsefoodbank.org, 303-670-1474.

Flowers for Food!  Going on now!  Get exceptionally gorgeous flowers, raised in the mountains at competitive prices.  Your pots or ours.

Cattle Drive & Trail Ride – May 16-18, Friday – Sunday at Colorado Cattle Company’s 10,000 acre ranch.  Registration ending soon!

Hay Bales & Horse Tails – October 3.  Incredible annual fundraiser,  Jeffco Fairgrounds.

CAMPS

Anchorage Farm, Pine, centaurrising.org, 303-838-5086.

Basic Horse Camps (ages 8-15 )

June 10-12, June 17-19, June 24-26, July 8-10. July 29-31

Little Kids Camps (ages 5-7)

June 10-12, July 8-10, July 29-31

Intensive Horse Camps (8 & Up)

June 17-19, July 29-31

Dressage Camps (8 & Up)

July 15-17, August 5-7

Family & Kids Horsemanship Camps, Llaves, New Mexico, jubileehorse.com.

Amazing opportunity to enjoy your horses or theirs, thousands of acres of National Forest and learn something         while you are at it with local trainer, Julie Phillips.

 

CLINICS

COLORADO CORRAL RANCH RACE /WESTERN DRESSAGE CLINIC & COMPETITION – Evergreen Rodeo Grounds. See Shows for September 14th. MtnHomes4Horses.com, 303-638-0994.

September 13

COLORADO CORRAL RANCH RACE CLINIC – with Tucker Black.

WESTERN DRESSAGE CLINIC – With Train The Trainers TM Instructor, Kelly Hendricks.

 

HarmonyHorseworks, Conifer, harmonyhorseworks.com.

ESCT or PEAT Clinics and Beginner lessons – Heal the spooky horse and fearful rider.   Flexible schedule.

 

Tucker Black Clinics, Red Hawk Ranch, Conifer, tuckerblackhorsemanship.com.  303-870-8389.

April 26 Horsemanship 1 and Trail Course. One or both.
May 10   Horsemanship 2 and Trail Course. One or both.
June 21  Introduction to Working Cows
July 19   Cow Work

HORSE SHOWS

4-H Open (anyone/all age groups can participate)  – English/Western/Trail/Gymkhanas:

May 11 – Harry Horse Show, Westernaire Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

May 18 – Arvada Hoofprints, Westernaire Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

June 22 – Horse Feathers, Evergreen Rodeo Arena.

July 12 & 13 – Pleasant Park Clinic & Show, Mckeever Arena, Conifer.

July 20 – Jeffco Rangers/Wranglers, Rodeo Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

July 27 – Ranch Race 4-H Clinic 8-10am, 10am-12pm & Open Competition. 1230pm – ~530pm.

August 7 – Jeffco County Fair – English/Western/Trail, Rodeo Arena.

August 8 – Jeffco County Fair – Gymkhana, Rodeo Arena.

September 28 – 4-H Fun Show, Table View Arena, Jeffco Fairgrounds.

Centaur Rising RMDS Dressage Shows:

Anchorage Farm, Pine, centaurrising.org, 303-838-5086.

July 20: #1

August 10: #2

COLORADO CORRAL RANCH RACE/WESTERN DRESSAGE COMPETITION – Evergreen Rodeo Grounds.(past Ranch Race Slide Shows at YouTube channel, MtnHomes4Horses).  See Clinics for September 13th.  MtnHomes4Horses.com, 303-638-0994.

September 14

DRESSAGE Schooling Show – Ride-a-Test Format, USDF Judge.

Open to Ride English, Western or Gaited.

RANCH RACE COMPETITION – All ages & levels.  

MEETINGS – Educational

Buffalo Bill Saddle Club, Jeffco Fairgrounds 7-930pm, bbscgolden.org

2nd Wednesday’s 7-930pm at Jeffco Fairgrounds.

Intermountain Horse Association, Beau Jos Meeting Room 630-8pm, Evergreen.  Intermountainhorse.org.

3rd Tuesdays – April 15, May 20, Summer off, September 16, etc.

TRAIL RIDING

Buffalo Bill Saddle Club – see ride & camping schedule online at bbscgolden.org.  Too many to list!

Colorado Corral Trail Rides – email [email protected] to get on the trail ride email list.  Casual riding with friends at local parks every couple of weeks.

Front Range Backcountry Horsemen, frontrangebackcountryhorsemen.org for information:

May 16 & 17 – Indian Creek Camp & Work Ride

June 6-8 – Girl’s Camping Trip

June 28 – Captain Mountain Work Day, 50th Anniversary

July 18-26 – Colorado Trail Ride

September 6 – Wilderness Walk, Evergreen

Intermountain Horse Association Poker Ride, intermountainhorse.com.

September 6 – Details TBD.

North American Trail Ride Conference, NATRC.org, volunteers and new riders welcome!

May 3-4, 17 – Clinics – Eckert & Larkspur.

May 24 & 25 – Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs.

June 7 & 8 – Colorado Trail, Buffalo Creek.

July 19-20 – Willow Springs, Jefferson.

RANCH SORTING

Evergreen Ranch Sorters:  Saturdays 10am-12pm, June – Late Fall: Reffel’s Arena, Pine, details at evergreenranchsorters.com.  Non-members welcome! 

RODEO

Evergreen Parade & Rodeo Weekend, Evergreen Rodeo Grounds, evergreenrodeo.com.

Saturday 14 – 10am Parade, 2pm Rodeo (with Muttin Bustin)

Sunday 15 – 2pm Rodeo (with Muttin Bustin)

Volunteers Needed for Parade and Rodeo!  Go to Volunteer tab on website.

Two For Trails Part 2: Jefferson County Trail Users Forum

While the volunteer patrollers directly serve the visitors and parks; the Trail Users Forum works as a liaison with the county and other users.

The Trail Users Forum was originally created in 1995 to facilitate the increased park attendance and different types of trail users.  The forum is made up of volunteer citizens from the majority user groups – equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers, as well as Open Space Advisory Committee representatives and Open Space Staff representatives.  The purpose of the forum is to take ideas, compliments and concerns from the different user groups and then make recommendations to improve trail use experience for all users to enjoy a safe, quality experience while they also consider the protection of the natural resource.  There are eight Equestrian and Hiking Representatives and seven Biking Representatives.

The Trail Users Forum improved the horse trailer parking at Centennial Cone as well as implemented the alternating use schedule for hikers and bikers.  The schedule is as follows:  equestrian use is allowed everyday; weekdays are multi-use and weekends allow bikers on even days and hikers on odd days.  This way, equestrians that do not wish to encounter bikes can plan accordingly.  In March 2010, the forum implemented changes at Apex Park once it was learned that equestrians had nearly stopped using the trail because the speed of bikers was a safety issue with the horses.  Now the park strictly enforces that on odd days, bikes are only allowed to travel one way to allow a safer speed for bikes and horses to interact. For more information on the Trail Users Forum go to: http://jeffco.us/openspace/openspace_T56_R127.htm. The Trail Users Forum Equestrian Representatives also have a FaceBook page at “Jeffco Colorado Open Space Equestrians”.

Get out and enjoy the many trails in our Jefferson County Open Space Parks this summer with your friends and horses!  Remember the folks who volunteer to protect the trails, users and our natural resources and maybe even consider serving along with them as a patroller or on the forum.  Happy Trails!  Copyright 2013 H. McWilliams, MtnHomes4Horses.com

Buffalo Bill Saddle Club

If there is one thing horse people like to do it is get together and talk about horses.  The Buffalo Bill Saddle Club (BBSC) was founded in 1947 by Evergreen and Golden area residents as a way to fellowship and to promote and preserve Western heritage.   This doesn’t mean what shape of saddle you use or what type of horse you ride, but just enjoying horses and all that goes with it – caring for livestock, working together, preserving the land and giving the general population the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about horses and their gear.   The main way BBSC does this is by creating activities for families and riders of all ages to enjoy their horses and each other.  Trail Riding is a big aspect of this along with parades, camping, a gymkhana, social events and monthly meetings.  Members participate in only the events that they are interested in and that fit their schedule.

TRAIL RIDES                 

BBSC started with trail rides originating from member homes in Evergreen.  They then added three trail rides each year up the Apex Trail originating from Heritage Square and ending at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave Site.  This evolved into adding Washington Street as part of that ride which turned into the Buffalo Bill Day Parade.  In addition to keeping up this tradition, many of today’s rides are in our local parks that are within an hour or two drive of the west metro area.  Horse camping with BBSC ranges from primitive tent camping to heading to a ranch like Winding River Resort in Grand Lake with accommodations for both RV’s and those who need a room to stay and even rental horses for themselves or friends and family.  This June, some of the eighty members and their mounts headed up to Custer State Park in South Dakota to stay at a horse friendly campground and enjoy daily rides through the park.  This month they went to Beaver Meadows Ranch Resort near Red Feather Lakes in Northern Colorado.  Every year they incorporate a breakfast ride, moonlight ride and poker ride.

BBSC trail rides are organized for safety and fun.  They have thorough guidelines that members follow out of respect and safety of other riders, horses and the land.  I met with Jan Kray who started with BBSC in 1998 right after she purchased her horse, Apache.  Her first ride with them she had a borrowed saddle and a rented trailer.  She was immediately part of the group and felt at home with the diversity of riders, horses and experience levels of both.  One member even brought his truck and trailer to where her horse was boarded to help her and her horse become more trailer savvy.  Over ten years later and an active member of the group, Jan states, “If you want to have fun with your horse, you want to do it safely and you want to make some nice friends,  you like to laugh a lot, come and join us, try us out, come on a ride and see if you like the group.”  BBSC also has a Facebook page to facilitate ride sharing and invites to short notice rides by members.

As individuals, some of BBSC’s members are involved as equestrian advocates with the Jefferson County Open Space Trail Use Task Force, which serves to protect the land and acts as a voice between hikers, bikers and equestrians.  Jan Kray is personally involved with Jefferson County Open Space as a volunteer Equestrian Patroller.

SOCIAL EVENTS AND MONTHLY MEETINGS

To get together, talk horse and just enjoy each other’s company, BBSC members plan gatherings each year such as dinners or attending cultural events.  In addition, monthly meetings, consist of planning upcoming rides and events, a time to share information and experiences and many times in the winter months, have horse related outside speakers.  In addition, BBSC does a yearly fun family Gymkhana with ribbons, trophies, food and fellowship.

PARADES

As mentioned earlier, BBSC started the Buffalo Bill Days in Golden, which starts each year with a parade and has grown to the largest community festival in Golden, including a car show, golf tournament and Wild West show.  Along with participating in the Buffalo Bill Days Parade, BBSC members are regulars at the weekly Golden holiday parades, the Evergreen Rodeo Parade, and the Denver Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – one of the largest “green” parades in our nation.  After some of the Golden parades, BBSC members set up corrals and their equipment in Heritage Park to allow the public come to pet the horses, pick up horsey coloring books, ask questions and learn more about our equine companions.

An organization like Buffalo Bill Saddle Club is an excellent advocate for horses as a part of a lifestyle and the community.  It is vital to our future as people to keep our relationship with the land, animals and agriculture not just selfishly for the obvious physical and mental health benefits, but as a connection to beauty, wide open spaces and to care for this amazing creation of molten crust we call home

Particulars:  Go to their website at www.BBSCGolden.org for more information and to view the calendar.   Email them at [email protected]  Meetings are at Jefferson County Fairgrounds the second Wednesday of the month in the Green Mountain Room B, 7 p.m.  Membership fees are $25 per family or $20 per individual.  Find them on Facebook for the latest and more communication between members.

Copyright 2013 Heather McWilliams. MtnHomes4Horses.com.