Thursday, October 15, 2020

Our Time at Wild Fire Ranch

 

 

 


Last weekend my friend and I visited Wild Fire Ranch and Spiritual Retreat.

We signed up for their two hour trail ride called “Mystic Mountain”.  They have trail rides of all different distances and some where you even get off your horse to picnic before returning back on the trail. 


I last rode a horse 2 summers ago when we rode at Disney’s Fort Wilderness (which was a pretty mild trail ride) and before that, it has been a very long time since I rode a horse cantering. If you don’t know, a canter is a speed that is between a trot and a gallop. My friend has rode before, but it has been a couple of years for her too, so we thought this distance and duration would suit us fine.




When we got there, we of course had to sign a waiver and then we were given treats so we could go feed the horses that were in the pasture.  We were offered riding helmets. Some people wore them and some people did not. My advice, ALWAYS wear the helmet. I’ve heard stories of even the best riders falling off because their horse got spooked by something. It also just gives piece of mind.

 

We were assigned horses and my horse was named “Promise”.  The guide said she called this horse a princess because she was so calm, (We’ll see about that)!  When we mounted the horses, we were not on a platform like we were at Disney. I remember seeing a small plastic stool in the corral, but I don’t remember using it.  Once I mounted, I did feel comfortable.  We had a little refresher course on which way to pull the reins when you wanted your horse to either go right or go left, while pushing your heel into the opposite side of the horse. You give the horse a kick in the side when you want him to GO!



Once everyone was ready, we followed our guide off the ranch and up to Mystic Mountain.  This was a country back road and we picked the most wonderful time of the year to go. It was a sunny day and the colorful leaves that framed the trail were just beautiful! 

We trotted most of the way, but then when we were in an open stretch and everyone felt comfortable, we cantered. NOTE: When the lead horse canters, ALL the horses canter because they don’t want to be left behind.  So basically, your horse is going to canter the same speed as the horse in front of it.  This later became very scary for me.  When a horse canters, you WILL bounce off the saddle. This proved to be challenging for me.  One needs to make sure their feet are fully secured in the stirrups and that you are pushing down with your feet and your heels are back, almost as if you were riding a motorcycle.

As we rode up the hill, we had to stand in our stirrups (to remove weight off the horse) so he/she could make it up the hill safely.  This was a good upper thigh workout for sure.   There were about 3 sections of the mountain where we had to ride while standing.

About half way up the mountain we made a pit stop so the horses could graze, and were fed more treats.  At one point, I was trying to get my horse to turn to the right so I pulled the rein and pushed my left heel into his side (like I was told), but the horse must have though my “push” was a “Kick” and he started to take off. That startled me because I was not prepared for that!




When we got to the top of the mountain (or as far as we were going to go), I was actually looking forward to a “look out” or something really scenic.  Instead, it was like we were in the middle of a fairytale forest. The fall leaves made it very beautiful.  I did not fall off my horse, but I’m glad I wore the helmet because as we were riding through this fairytale forest, my horse did not care that my head was hitting some of the tree branches!

The return trip was all down hill so we did not have to worry about standing up for our horse.  As we were in the last part of the trail heading back to the ranch, the guide asked if everyone felt comfortable to canter again. We all agreed.  The lead horse took off, the second one followed, and the third one ( the one in front of me) was being really odd. He stepped out of line, and started to back up and step sideways. I was seriously concerned for the man riding on him. I was also concerned that this horse was going to spook my horse and the other horses behind me.  His horse would just not go forward. 

After a few more seconds my horse Promise passed that horse and at lightening speed galloped to keep up with the lead horse that was already at LEAST 100 yards ahead of me.  I admit, I was frightened.  I hollered to the guide “My horse is going a little too fast for me” ( In reality, It was going WAY too fast for me).  She hollered back “ Oh you’re fine”.    Oh gosh, I just held on tight and hoped for the best!   We were a few hundred yards away from entering back on the ranch anyway.   All the horses had stopped cantering when we entered back on the ranch and the ride ended peacefully.

I would like to say, even though I had a scare there at the end, The staff at Wild Fire ranch made us feel safe the entire time. There was a guide in the front of us, and a guide in the rear of us. Also, the owner Cynthia, drove her car behind us for the whole ride.

Wild Fire ranch was featured on the 700 club.  You can watch a bit about that HERE.


Here are a few take aways from horseback riding ( or tips you’ll want to know before your first ride).

 

1.      If you want to take photos on your ride wear your phone ( or camera) on a strap around your neck.  I had mine in one of those clear pouches that were made for the beach.  You do not want to hold anything loosely in your hands. Your horse can jerk or move when you are not expecting it and you don’t want to drop anything.

2.      ALWAYS wear a helmet. I gave a good example why.

3.      Wear boots or shoes that cover your ankles. We were told that we could wear hiking boots or sneakers. I could not find my Timberland boots ( and I did not want to wear my good boots that I wear with my dresses), so I wore a pair of trail sneakers.  Most people (besides the guides) had sneakers or casual shoes on.  Next time I’ll definitely wear boots because when you are “bouncing” the front of your ankles are hitting the stirrups.  It can become uncomfortable.

4.      If you don’t want to canter with your horse, speak up and tell the guide. Don’t just think that your horse will go slower than the others. When one horse canters, they ALL canter!

5.      Make sure you know all the “commands” to direct your horse. Be sure to make a clear differentiation between “pushing your heel into the side” and a “kick .

Have you ben horseback riding lately? If so, what tips do you have.  If not, do you think you would ever go?  -M





12 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, I have never ridden a horse (unless you count the pretty ones on a carousel) LOL

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  2. I haven't been horseback riding in years and your story reminds me why. I like the idea of horseback riding, but those horses can be so darned unpredictable! Sounds like a fun day, tho.

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  3. I have not been on a horse since I was a kid. I think they scare me a little! Looks like a really fun day for you all. Thanks for the link up

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  4. Like Kim, I've never ridden a horse. But it does sound like fun.

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  5. I had horses growing up and I wish that I still did. Our family loves riding when we go to national parks. 4 years ago, we took a 2 hour ride at Yellowstone, 2 years ago we rode the mules to Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon, and this summer we took a 4 hour ride in Rocky Mountain National Park. By far the most fun was the ride into the Grand Canyon. I encourage anyone that has a chance to do it.

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  6. Wow! What an adventure! Sounds like the perfect weekend and the perfect time of year to go. Thanks for telling us about Wild Fire Ranch. I will have to check it out. I have ridden a horse before, but not for a very long time.

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  7. I haven't ridden many times as an adult. We went on a terrifying trail ride in Costa Rica with a teenaged guide who didn't speak English - there were only blankets and no saddles. Glad we survived that! ;) [Kind of frustrating that the guide told you "you're fine." That's not such a good answer!]

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  8. The last time I rode horses was in college. I took it as my gym course one quarter. I kid you not! In those days, no helmets (way over 30 years ago).

    I completely understand your not being comfortable with cantering -- I never was.

    So my story is that I took the course with a friend. And he did fall off his horse. In front of me. His horse took off, my horse took off after his, but by some miracle I managed to stay on. I do think my friend ended up with a mild concussion, although he didn't go to the hospital as I recall.

    I like watching horses. Riding is scary. Although oddly enough a while ago I found my old journal & in there I rode that I enjoyed the classes! I don't remember it that way.

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  9. Helmets must be like masks... what is wrong with people??? ... though my dad wouldnt wear one. but he's been riding since he was 3 years old.
    I broke a camera riding a horse one time. I banged it against the saddle too much. BOO!

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  10. I haven’t ridden a horse since I was so young that I rode with my father! I would be petrified....but I wanna do it even though it sounds kinda scary!!!

    Glad you were able to stay on your horse and got to enjoy the beauty!!!

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  11. Oh, this sounds like so much and brings back great childhood memories. I haven’t ridden a horse since middle school summer camp. I wonder if it’s like riding a bike?

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  12. What a fantastic adventure you had!!!! I love this! My daughter loves horses and rides once a week. In order to share in her passion we did a trail ride last summer as a family. This adventure you went on would be totally something she would love to do, and myself as well. One of the things I have most come to admire about you as I've read your blog is your sense of adventure and living life to its fullest. Hope you have a great week ahead.

    bosbodaciousblog.blogspot.ca

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Fairytales and Fitness is a personal blog authored and edited by us, Meranda and Lacey. The thoughts expressed here represent only our own and are not meant to be taken as professional advice. Please note that our thoughts and opinions change from time to time. We consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind in an ever changing society. Any thoughts and opinions expressed within our out-of-date posts may not be the same, nor even similar, to those we may express today. Some links may contain affiliate links. Some links are just to pages we'd like to share.