8 Great Gaited Get­aways

Glide down the trail on the back of a smooth-gaited horse with our guide to eight great des­ti­na­tions.

Horse & Rider - - Contents - BY AU­DREY PAVIA

Glide down the trail on a smooth-gaited horse with our guide to eight des­ti­na­tions.

mooth-gaited horses are bred for the trail. They’re easy on the joints and are built to ef­fort­lessly carry riders over long dis­tances. If you’ve al­ways wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence rid­ing a smooth-gaited horse—or if you’re think­ing of buy­ing a gaited trail mount, but you’re not sure which breed is right for you—con­sider a gaited get­away.

Here, we’ll give you the run­down on eight get­aways where you can glide down the trail on the back of an easy-gaited horse. For each one, we’ll let you know who your host or hosts will be, briefly de­scribe the des­ti­na­tion and the trails, tell you which gaited breed or breeds you’ll ride, give you a bit about the on­site or off­site ac­com­mo­da­tions, and more.

Bucks & Spurs, Ava, Mis­souri

Your hosts: Own­ers Sonny and C. Huff.

The get­away: Bucks & Spurs is a 700-acre work­ing cat­tle ranch lo­cated in Mis­souri’s Ozark Moun­tains, near the Big Beaver River and Mark Twain Na­tional For­est. The guest ranch of­fers trail rides on well-trained Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters, along with nat­u­ral horse­man­ship lessons, cat­tle drives, team sort­ing, and cat­tle herd­ing.

Gaited mounts: Trail- and cow-savvy Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters. Bucks & Spurs’ Mis­souri Fox Trot­ter breed- ing pro­gram has pro­duced mul­ti­ple cham­pi­ons in ver­sa­til­ity, which in­cludes trail class and cat­tle work. The trails: Miles of se­cluded ranch trails go along two miles of Big Beaver River, and through pas­ture and wooded ar­eas. Ter­rain varies from shaded woods and open fields to canyons and bluffs. Ac­com­mo­da­tions: Choose from a cedar lodge with three full baths and pri­vate rooms or an oak and wal­nut cabin, which fea­tures oak logs sawn at the ranch. You’ll en­joy all-you-can eat meals, trail-ride break­fasts, chuck­wagon din­ners, and steak nights. Best times to go: Fall, spring, and sum­mer. Bring your own sad­dle? Yes, you’re en­cour­aged to bring your own sad­dle. Horses for sale? Yes, Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters. Con­tact: (417) 683-2381; chuff@buck­sand­spurs.com; buck­sand­spurs.com.

Cal­i­for­nia Coastal Trail Ride, Pescadero, Cal­i­for­nia

Your host: Sam Hag­gag. The get­away: This four- to six-day get­away, of­fered by eques­trian-tour com­pany Hid­den Trails, is hosted by Blue Sky Rid­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence on the Cal­i­for­nia coast just north of San Fran­cisco. The area fea­tures ocean

THIS PAGE: On the Cal­i­for­nia Coastal Ride, of­fered by Hid­den Trails and hosted by Blue Sky Rid­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence, you’ll ride a Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horse along sea­side bluffs. OP­PO­SITE TOP: You can also ride a Ten­nessee Walker at Mon­tana’s Dun­rovin Guest Ranch. OP­PO­SITE BOT­TOM: Sad­dle up a Paso Fino at Wind in Your Hair Rid­ing lo­cated near Park City, Utah. views, bub­bling creeks, grass­lands, red­woods, and an abun­dance of na­tive wildlife.

Gaited mounts: Well-trained, trail-savvy Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horses. Ac­cord­ing to the hosts, the horses are part of the fam­ily, and re­ceive the best care avail­able, from com­plete nu­tri­tional care, den­tal care, and nat­u­ral hoof care to nat­u­ral-horse­man­ship train­ing and equine mas­sage.

The trails: Trails go along sea­side bluffs and grass­lands, and through a stand of an­cient red­wood trees. You’ll cross creeks, go through mead­ows, and ride through the pine forests and canyons of the Santa Cruz Moun­tains. In the spring, you can whale watch from horse­back as you ride along a ridge above the ocean.

Ac­com­mo­da­tions: Ei­ther Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero or sim­i­lar ac­com­mo­da­tions, de­pend­ing on avail­abil­ity. Costanoa over­looks undis­turbed shores and rolling coastal hills. On the prop­erty grounds, you can walk, re­lax, en­joy the sun, and take in the ocean view or evening stars. The 40-room lodge fea­tures stylish com­fort amid nat­u­ral sur­round­ings. An out­door hot tub is avail­able. The nearby Cas­cade Bar & Grill serves Cal­i­for­nia coastal cui­sine. Best time to go: This ride is of­fered ev­ery year from April to June and Septem­ber to Novem­ber. Bring your own sad­dle? No; West­ern, English, and Aus­tralian stock sad­dles are avail­able. Horses for sale? Pos­si­bly; dis­cuss with host. Con­tact: (888) 9-TRAILS; info@hid­den trails.com; hid­den­trails.com.

Dun­rovin Guest Ranch, Lolo, Mon­tana

Your hosts: Ster­ling & SuzAnne Miller.

The get­away: Lo­cated in the Bit­ter­root Moun­tains of Mon­tana, on the Bit­ter­root River, Dun­rovin Ranch of­fers an in­ti­mate and com­fort­able at­mos­phere with clean, cozy, con­ve­nient ac­com­mo­da­tions. Sur­rounded by the Lolo Na­tional For­est, the ranch of­fers trail rides along the Bit­ter­root River. A spe­cial pro­gram in­tro­duc­ing kids to horses is avail­able in spring and fall. Horse camps take place in June, July, and Au­gust.

Gaited mounts: Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horses. The trails: Dun­rovin of­fers a va­ri­ety of rides, from one to two hours to all day. River Rides ford the Bit­ter­root River and con­tinue onto ad­ja­cent public land, trav­el­ing up­stream along the ri­par­ian area, through the for­est, and across open mead­ows, end­ing at an over­look. You’ll en­joy views of the Heav­enly Twins down the Bit­ter­root, Ch-paa-qn Peak west of Mis­soula, the Rat­tlesnake Wilder­ness, and even part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Ranch Rides me­an­der along the Bit­ter­root River and through a beau­ti­ful wet­land meadow. The His­tor­i­cal River Ride fords the Bit­ter­root River trav­eled by Lewis and Clark be­fore cross­ing the Rocky Moun­tains. Ac­com­mo­da­tions: Choose one of three pri­vate guest units, which are suit­able for cou­ples or small fam­i­lies; ranch­house ac­com­mo­da­tions work for small groups. You’ll have ac­cess to laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties, bar­be­cue grills, and fire pits. Best times to go: Fall, spring, and sum­mer. Bring your own sad­dle? Yes, but it must fit the horse. Horses for sale? No. Con­tact: (406) 273-7745; dun­rovin@big sky.net; dun­rov­in­ranch­mon­tana.com. Your hosts: Own­ers Tanya and Roy Shoen­beck. The get­away: RS Ranch is a 500-acre work­ing cat­tle and horse ranch in the Mis­souri Ozarks, near the Up­per Mer­amec River. The ranch of­fers trail rides, cook­outs, rop­ing lessons, and hayrides. Sleigh rides are of­fered in the win­ter­time. Gaited mounts: The ranch breeds and trains Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters; guests have about 30 horses to choose from, in­clud­ing Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters and Ten­nessee Walk­ers. The horses are bred, raised, and trained at the ranch, as­sur­ing guests of a good ex­pe­ri­ence. The trails: Trail rides in the Ozarks re­veal ex­tra­or­di­nary bio­di­ver­sity of plant and an­i­mal species, in­clud­ing wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and other na­tive wildlife. The rides ex­plore lo­cal rivers, caves, forests, and ranch lands, and can be hilly and rocky in places. Rides in­clude a sad­dle­bag lunch in a scenic area along the trail or riverbed. Ac­com­mo­da­tions: En­joy bed & break­fast ac­com­mo­da­tions in a quaint, cow­boy-themed log cabin made from lo­cal cedar hauled by the ranch’s team of Percherons. The cabin has all the ne­ces­si­ties, in­clud­ing a full kitchen, grill, fire pit, and fire­place. En­joy a lake view from the cabin porch. Lunch and din­ner are self-catered; lo­cal restau­rants are also nearby. Best time to go: Year-round. Bring your own sad­dle? Yes, but it must fit the horse. Horses for sale? Yes, Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horses and Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters. Con­tact: (573) 732-4590; info@rsranch rides.com; rsranch­trail­rides.com.

Trail Horses of the West, Las Ve­gas, New Mex­ico

Your host: Owner Fred Mau. The get­away: Trail Horses of the West, lo­cated at Twin Ponds Ranch, of­fers the largest se­lec­tion of ma­ture gaited horses in North Amer­ica. Rides ven­ture into the pic­turesque San­gre de Cristo Moun­tains. Gaited mounts: Breeds in­clude Ken­tucky Moun­tain Horses, Mis­souri Fox Trot­ters, Rocky Moun­tain Horses, Spot­ted Sad­dle Horses, and Ten­nessee Walk­ing Horses. These mounts are metic­u­lously trained at the ranch to calmly en­counter ev­ery­thing from lakes to stairs to wildlife. The trails: Trails rang­ing from easy to mod­er­ate in dif­fi­culty ven­ture into New Mex­ico’s daz­zling moun­tains. You’ll likely en­counter wa­ter cross­ings and steep trails. But, Mau as­sures, there’s no hang­ing off the side of a moun­tain on nar­row trails, just beau­ti­ful views aboard smooth horses, with friendly guides. Ac­com­mo­da­tions: Stay at Twin Ponds’ mod­ern log cabin that’s shaded by pon­derosa pine trees. The cabin is equipped with a queen-size bed, a kitchen, and a full bath­room. Best time to go: Year-round. Bring your own sad­dle? Yes. Horses for sale? Yes, a va­ri­ety of breeds. Con­tact: (505) 425-3580; fred­mau47@gmail.com; trail­hors­esoft­hewest.com.

Ver­mont Ice­landic Horses, Waits­field, Ver­mont

Your host: Karen Win­hold. The get­away: The Ver­mont Ice­landic Horse Farm is near the his­toric vil­lage of Waits­field, in the heart of the Sugar- bush re­sort area. Full- and half-day trail rides are avail­able, along with two- to six-day treks on four- and five-gaited Ice­landic Horses. Lessons spe­cific to rid­ing Ice­landic Horses are avail­able on the trail. Gaited mounts: Ice­landic Horses. The trails: Trails in­clude the quaint back­roads of the Mad River Val­ley and, in sea­son, across mead­ows and into the woods on the slopes of the Green Moun­tains. Along the way, your guide will de­scribe the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics and his­tory of Ice­landic Horses, and point out the area’s wildlife and nat­u­ral fea­tures. You’ll travel at a slow or fast pace, de­pend­ing on your rid­ing level. Ac­com­mo­da­tions: Stay at the Mad River Inn, a ram­bling 1860s-era Vic­to­rian country house, where you’ll en­joy a hot tub, feather beds, and a gourmet country break­fast. Rooms are dec­o­rated with an­tiques in cozy New Eng­land style. On warm days, break­fast is served on the back porch over­look­ing the meadow. Best time to go: Day rides are avail­able year-round, weather- and trail- con­di­tions-per­mit­ting. Fall fo­liage treks are avail­able from mid-Septem­ber to mid-Oc­to­ber. Bring own sad­dle? No; each horse has a specially fit sad­dle to pre­vent rubs and dis­com­fort on the ride. These sad­dles are made specif­i­cally for Ice­landics and have cush­ioned seats for rider com­fort. Horses for sale? Yes, Ice­landic Horses bred and trained on the farm.

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