Giddy up – horses in the High Country
is name is Cody and he’s got about 1,200 pounds on me, give or take.
For an hour and a half, we’ll be a team. He, the quarter horse gelding in charge of walking along a scenic trail in Cordillera, and me, the 100-percent human female in charge of nothing but staying in the saddle ” and enjoying the ride.
“Just relax that hand a bit,” I’m told by Lyndsay Heckman, my head wrangler for the day as I’m making my first very tentative steering attempts in front of the Bearcat Stables in Cordillera, named for a hermit rancher who lived on the stable’s grounds until the mid-90s.
Cody is reign-trained, meaning he responds to the subtle pull and pressure on the mouth piece that is connected to the reigns in my right hand, which I’m supposed to hold “like an ice cream cone,” according to Heckman.
And at a relaxed angle ” not as high and tense as I’m currently grasping them.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
I trust Heckman immediately. On top of being patient with everyone in the eight-person group, she knows horses. As a former rodeo queen, she can ride a horse ” really fast, with a flag in one hand.
Cody remains unimpressed as I’m adjusting my hold on the reigns ” he’s the horse kid’s can ride, Bearcat Stables owner Gavin Selway assures me. “As far as trail-riding horses go, Cody is the one I’d clone if I could,” he says, adding that the small group sizes he insist on allow him and his wranglers to pick the right horse for each guest.
We set out along a narrow, winding trail and I’m starting to
appreciate the appeal of a trail ride.
Almost anyone can do it, since the horses do the hard work and Cody’s broad backside is actually quite comfortable, making me sit up straight and enjoy the rythmic rolling motion of riding.
As we stop at the half-way point, Heckman and fellow wrangler Nikki Lovera jump out of their saddles to take pictures of us with Bellyache Mountain as the scenic backdrop for mementos to take home.
Bearcat Stables, like most other stables in the area, offers trail rides in the scenic surroundings of the Vail Valley from one hour to six hours for between $40 to $200 per person. More specialized horseback outings are available upon request.
Geraldine Haldner, special sections editor for the Daily, can be found outside of her cubicle whenever possible.