While his first escapade was a four-year bicycle journey around the world, it’s the joy of “Microadventures,” quick outings that offer “something different, something exciting,” that Alastair Humphrey‘s touts in his book.
“Adventure is everywhere, every day, and it is up to us to find it.” And so we did.
Mountain View Ranch offers a variety of trail rides, including picnic, sunset and a fast trek for advanced riders. It was the “Cowboy Up Ride” that got our attention with a chance to trail ride, barrel race and test our skill (or lack-there-of) in traditional gymkhana games. Five of us donned our dungarees and set out for Danby; I was the only one wearing a bandana.
About a half hour from Stratton, Mountain View Ranch lives up to its name. We take a left out of the Village of Danby and climb to a view straight out of some Vermont Life calendar.
John Sisters, who ran the Sun Bowl Ranch at Stratton for years, greets us at the gate and off we go to meet the horses.
The operation is first rate, with a string of well-trained, sure-footed horses to suit any level of rider. John asks us a few questions to pair horse and rider before imparting some friendly instruction as we head out through the trees and across fields. Together we trot up hills, soak in the scenery and share the joy of a walk in the woods. On horseback. In the Green Mountains.
Now that we’re bona fide cowgirls, and one cowboy, we head to the ring where John lines up a series of five poles for our first challenge. Just like slalom gates in ski racing, you pick your line and vie for fastest time. We each get three tries and thanks to tips from John you could see the skill and confidence level increase with each run. The cheering – and laughter — level was pretty consistent.
I had a ringer in Casanova, a sweet Morgan who does it all. With gusto. My average time through the poles was 17.4 seconds, a full seven seconds slower than his best time but fast enough to win the blue ribbon. I was a clear handicap in the keyhole event , saddling Casanova with what was likely his first white ribbon.
The energy was palpable as we drove back to Stratton, buoyed by the excitement of trying something new, of cantering to the finish line, of being outside with friends in the freshest air on a sunny day. And we all had ribbons, blue, red, white and Erin’s favorite color pink to remind us of a day well spent.
But don’t take it from me, you should hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. So to speak.
Erin Morley “I loved that my horse, Feathers, and I were on the same page. Being that my riding skill consists of a couple of trail rides over the years, I was nervous about the “games.” I had nothing to worry about, as she was gentle and steady through the courses. I may have come in last in both events, but I had a blast and the pink ribbon was much bigger than any of the others.”
Rob Chrostowski “My faithful steed, Leo, was a great trail-riding companion, but he seemed to miss the memo that break time was over once we made our way to the competition ring. After we sauntered through the slalom course and knocked over nearly all of the gates, our guide, John, gave Leo a slap in the rear and chased us through ‘keyhole’, igniting the competitive spirit inside of good ole Leo and leading us to secure our second place ribbon. I can’t wait to go back!”
Lauren Suriani “I really enjoyed the physical aspect that many may not think about during riding. While 6 feet up I developed a new sense of balance especially while playing the games. There’s also the physical power that you’re sitting on top of. I had feelings of calming, excitement, nervousness and exhilaration all within the two-hour ride.”
503 Easy St., Danby VT 05739, Just off Rt. 7 about 35 minutes from Stratton Mountain. Find directions here.
What You’ll Learn
Ropes of the ranch including basic riding instruction and safety tips. How stunning the Vermont vistas are, especially when viewed from horseback. That when you’ve done something forever, adding a twist makes it all new again. And, of course, that the horse knows the way… to escape the ordinary.
What to Pack and What to Wear
Shoes or boots with a heel and long pants. Helmets are provided. A water bottle comes in handy as competition heats up in the cowboy games.
Suggested Age Range
All ages, with pony rides, petting zoo, carriage and wagon rides plus sleigh rides in the winter.
For more information on all that Mountain View Ranch has to offer, visit their website here.
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About the Author:
Myra Foster moved to Vermont for a year or two after graduate school. Twenty years later, the skiing, riding (snowboards and horses), hiking, paddling, gardening … keep her here. She lives in Sunderland with P.Kiddy and rides her big horse Kidd every chance she gets.