We’d overestimated the traffic heading out to go horseback riding in Denver and arrived to the mountains around Bear Mountain Stables a bit earlier than we felt was appropriate, so we explored the back roads a bit.
We looped around the creek which runs just off the highway, we passed a perfect log cabin (read: mansion) right on its own private lake. We contemplated taking action on the ‘for sale’ signs scattered about and ultimately, when the time was right, we pulled up to Bear Mountain Stables.
Nestled in amongst the trees is a small Colorado dude ranch made up of an outbuilding on the opposite side of the dirt driveway from the family home, wooden fencing, and a smattering of horses. A head popped out of the white wooden building and said a name. Potentially mine, potentially Perry’s, we were only half way out the car at that point, slathering our noses with a bit of sunscreen, just in case.
Nice to meet you!
Niceties all around.
We chatted about our background, a bit about our horse experience. What led us here to be horseback riding in Denver, Colorado. Both us having grown up attached to a saddle we were aware of the fact that now, with all the things that life does to your life, our bodies were totally not in shape for any of this. Perry’s even less so than mine. But we’d discussed on the drive up how it was just like riding a bike. And sometimes, for people like us, whose brains remembered but muscles did not, that was very detrimental to the chances of us walking normally tomorrow. But nevertheless, we persisted.
Marie and Maddie handed us helmets, mine of course too small because forever and always my small stature betrays the true size of my enormous head. Then we waited for our riding companions.
Four of us would go out along with our two guides. A mother and daughter were joining us. Interestingly, they were horse familiar but had mostly ever ridden bareback (no saddle).
Once we were all there and had our helmets on, Marie gave us a quick rundown of how on earth to ride a thousand-pound animal. A rundown that were it just for Perry and I would have been wasted breathe. But I can certainly appreciate, as someone who has taught riding lessons, the fact that people rock up saying ‘oh yeah, I’ve galloped before, I’m super experienced’ and then mount the horse backwards, plus you can never be too cautious with kids in a saddle. So, we watched as Marie quizzed the 12 year old on which way to move her hands to have her horse move this way or that. It’s a quiz that anyone unfamiliar with siting on an animal would be glad they were given.
I was to ride Dancer. Perry was to ride Paris. Mother and daughter, Dancer and Paris that is, not Perry and I, we’re friends from college. Though were we to be mother and daughter I do think it would make sense that Perry was the mother.
Our saddles were western, gear we expected in Colorado, but both Perry and I are English broads through and through. I though have ridden in a western saddle more than a handful of times. Perry, just once. So we both resigned ourselves to having our stirrups adjusted by the wranglers on the ground. This certainly made me feel like I was just learning again, but I also do not understand why western stirrups have to be so darn hard to adjust!
Anyways, we got our western stirrups adjusted to the length that our English legs were comfortable with and off we went. Out of the little pen, up the hill, and into the forest.
We rode single file, Maddie took up the lead with Marie in the rear assisting the youngster. We chatted about life and horses, the ponies we have loved, and the books we plan one day to write. I encouraged Maddie, as an approaching college senior to go to Ireland after graduation on a working holiday visa and ride horses, as I did.
We had a little trot up one hill, but otherwise it was a meandering walk through both public and private lands. When all was said and done we were in the saddle for about an hour.
As we approached home again, there was a herd of deer waiting for us in the dirt parking lot. It was not the elk I had hoped for, but horseback riding near Denver wouldn’t have felt complete without at least some wildlife encounter.
A few things important to note about Bear Mountain Stables:
- Safety is key
- You will wear a helmet
- Do you have travel insurance? Regardless of any level of safety precautions, riding is a dangerous sport
- The animals are well cared for:
- Shiny coats
- Full tummies
- A limit on the number of rides they do
- Small groups
- Friendly staff
So, if you’re looking to go horseback riding while in Colorado, I definitely recommend making the trip out to Conifer to visit Marie and Dancer, get a bit of exercise and explore the beautiful nature of that part of the world.
The Country Jumper contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!