Summer is almost over, but there’s still plenty of time to see Central Oregon from the seat of a saddle.
Face it, the world looks better from up there. The view spans a little wider. The air smells a little cleaner. The trail floats beneath your feet.
Luckily, you need not own a horse to hit the saddle. Read on to learn more about local riding opportunities for beginners, dabblers and travelers alike.
Most commercial stables in Central Oregon offer horseback riding lessons. Our list includes facilities that cater to one-time and occasional riders. These sites offer trail rides and pack trips that start with some basic riding instruction. First, a few pointers:
Appointments are required at nearly all local stables, so plan ahead. If a rider in your party weighs more than 250 pounds, be sure to let the facility know when you make your reservations. Many barns have weight limits or need warning to provide sturdier mounts for bigger riders.
Dress appropriately. Wear long pants, preferably jeans or riding pants. And pull on a pair of closed-toe boots, preferably with a separate heel to help keep your foot from sliding through the stirrup. If you don’t have appropriate gear, ask the facility for loaners.
Apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water before you mount up; there are no drinking fountains along trails, and shade is scarce.
Helmet rentals are included in the cost of most rides. Many facilities require children to wear helmets and urge adults to wear them, too.
Show up a few minutes before your scheduled ride, and be prepared to sign a waiver of liability. Minors will need the signature of a parent or guardian.
Some stables have special rides for children under 7 years old, but use your judgment to determine whether a particular child is mature enough to ride. Horses are big, strong animals capable of hurting people. Any rider must be willing to carefully follow instructions in order to stay safe.
And finally, don’t overdo it. If you have never ridden a horse, do not sign up for an eight-hour trail ride. Even after a brief, mellow ride, you might be surprised by how sore you feel the next day.
Now giddyup! Here are some local facilities that offer horseback riding instruction and activities:
6823 state Highway 8, Warm Springs
“Ikiutan” is the Wasco Indian word for horse and the name of the full-service stables at Kah-Nee-Tah Resort & Casino in Warm Springs.
Cost: $45 to $185 per person for trail rides, depending on ride length; $9 for pony rides
For reservations and more info: 541-460-0177 or www.kahneeta.com/horseback-riding-central-oregon
Diane’s Riding Place
65535 Cline Falls Highway, Tumalo
Lessons and trail rides across a 20-acre ranch with views of the Cascades.
Cost: $35 per person for a one-hour group ride or $50 per person for a one-hour private lesson
For reservations and more info: 541-408-1731 or www.bendhorseride.com
Black Butte Stables
Eight miles west of Sisters on U.S. Highway 20, Black Butte Ranch
A variety of trail rides and pack trips across the resort and into the Deschutes National Forest.
Cost: $33 to $195 per person depending on ride length and whether lunch is included
For reservations and more info: 541-595-2061 or www.oregoncowboy.com
1021 Desperado Trail, Sisters
Trail rides across a neighboring ranch are led by Equine Management, Inc., the same company that operates the stables at Black Butte Ranch.
Cost: $43 to $120 per person depending on ride length and whether lunch is included
For reservations and more info: 541-280-4891 or www.oregoncowboy.com
57215 River Road, Sunriver
Trail rides, pony rides, riding lessons and carriage rides through the resort.
Cost: $35 to $70 for trail rides; $10 for pony rides; $40 to $70 for riding lessons
For reservations and more info: 541-593-6995 or www.sunriver-resort .com/oregon-equestrian-vacations.php
68020 Cloverdale Road, Sisters
Lessons and trail rides across a 47-acre ranch in Sisters. Riders 3 to 6 years old may take a shorter “Pee-Wee Ride” in the arena.
Cost: $45 for a private ride; $30 for Pee-Wees; Group rates and discount packages available
For reservations and more info: 541-504-1284 or emeraldranchsisters.com