Beaver Creek by horse: A short epic
The summer surroundings on the horse trails of Beaver Creek change dramatically every quarter mile, or so, passing through pine glades, dense aspen forests, sprawling sage-strewn hills and, of course, a few grassy ski runs.
Earning the reigns
Steve Jones Beaver Creek Stables guide Chris Brown began with a safety demonstration, informing every rider the ins-and-outs of “Western-Style,” which is a style of holding and using reigns.
“Your reigns are your steering wheel and your brakes,” said Brown, of Capetown, South Africa. “Your heels are your gas pedal.”
Brown went on to describe the problems of holding a reign too loose or too tight.
The importance of a “relaxed reign”, Brown said, is that if reigns are too tight, the horse backs up and may violently throw its head around.
“Horses don’t like backing up,” said Brown.” But if you ask them to, they will because they’re just that type of animal.”
So young and old were mounted on the stables’ ample supply of gorgeous, muscular horses, according to riding experience/ability.
The stables provided safety helmets for those who wished to wear them, but water was two bucks a pop, so bring your own.
You must forgive me
Brown guided our three-person group out of the corral and onto a two-hour trail.
My horse, aptly named Harley because of a tattoo in his mouth, broke into an ill-advised trot 30 yards out of the gate.
The Steve Jones Beaver Creek Stables horse tours are primarily walking tours, but Harley is a former race horse, so he is a bit antsy, to put it mildly, at times.
Harley had quite an appetite, which Brown warned us about beforehand.
“A horse, by nature, will eat until he falls over asleep,” said Brown. “Because that’s the type of animal they are.”
When I wasn’t paying attention, Harley would pull over to the side of the trail for anything containing chlorophyll that he could get his giant, goofy jaws on.
Then, I would be forced to yank back on the reign and give Harley a swift heels-to-ribs. It seemed somewhat cruel and dangerous, considering the fact that Harley weighed more than six times as much as I do, but it was necessary to keep the group going.
Besides, the true problem horse was the one in front of me, Waylon, who would whip his tail back and forth through the air like a flurry of fishing lines casted simultaneously – a mesmerizing sound.
After a few wags of his tail, Waylon proceeded to lift his tail, exposing himself, and farted in rhythm with his steps, which was rather unpleasant from my downwind position Monday on a hot and relatively-humid Colorado summer afternoon.
After a couple of miles, Harley and I had the opportunity to pass stinky, old Waylon.
And, as an added bonus, Harley abruptly pooped in Waylon’s path when we passed him.
However, the scents of sage and pine dominated our noses for the majority of the ride, the horses actually were very kind and obedient beings and I really didn’t mind trading the noise of traffic and clouds of exhaust for a powerful whinny and an occasional whiff of feces.
Hour or day
Steve Jones Beaver Creek Stables offers rides from an hour up to a full-day ride up to Beaver Lake.
For more information on reserving a ride on a Steve Jones Beaver Creek Stables horse call 845-7770 or check their website at http://www.vailhorses.com.
Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at email@example.com.