What to Expect on a Trail Ride
It’s a beautiful day and you’re wondering how to make the most of it. You’ve heard of a place called El Rancho Mañana that offers trail rides on horseback and now you’re curious. You call and make a reservation. The office staff is friendly and helpful. But now you’re wondering what to expect. As a former trail guide of 30 years, I can answer most of your questions.
At El Rancho, we offer one-hour, walking, guided trail rides on horseback through 1,208 acres of wooded scenery. There are over 25 miles of trails. Riders ages 8+ ride their own horse, while kiddos ages 3-7 ride double with an adult. We also offer private rides. During the week, you can choose to go on a two-hour ride as well. In fact, I’d recommend it. You’ll see a lot more scenery and get a lot more enjoyment out of your ride, although you might be a little more tired at the end.
We recommend long pants and closed-toed shoes. Bug spray is also a smart choice throughout most of the summer.
The information provided below applies to El Rancho trail rides but might be useful if you choose to ride at another stable as well. Just listen to your trail guides and you’ll do fine.
When you arrive, you’ll come into the office to check in. Every adult rider will sign a liability waiver. Kids will have their waiver signed by a responsible adult, such as a parent or guardian. If you have time, you can browse the store for snacks or ERM clothing. There are restrooms available in the office to use before your trail. About ten minutes before your scheduled trail time, you’ll head down to the corral.
Once you’re down at the corral, you’ll see a walkway in between the two corrals where the horses are waiting. The walkway is where you’ll wait for your trail guides. While you’re waiting, you can pet the horses on the other side of the fence, take pictures, and visit with your group. Your trail guides will instruct you to line up in the order you want to ride in, including those riding double with a kiddo. From there, you’ll head out to the mounting block one at a time as instructed.
Are you nervous about getting on the horse? Don’t worry, we have a mounting block that makes it easy to get on your horse. Your trail guide will pick an appropriate horse for you (and your kiddo, if you’re riding double) and lead it out to you. They’ll first check that the saddle is fastened tightly. They will hold your horse and tell you how to get on, as well as assist you if you need it. If you’re riding double, you’ll get on first and then the guide will lift your little one onto the horse with you. Once you’re on the horse, the guide will lead you over to a spot where you’ll wait for the ride to start. They’ll tell you how to use the reins (the thin straps that are attached to the horse’s head that help you steer and stop). They’ll adjust your stirrups so you’re comfortable.
Once everyone is mounted, the guides will give a short safety/information speech. Listen closely to this. It’s important. Then, you’ll all turn your horses and fall into line behind the front trail guide. There will often be a rear guide as well. As previously mentioned, all trail rides at El Rancho are at a walking pace. This is to match the riding level of everyone involved and to keep everyone safe. It’s also to keep the horses from getting too tired throughout the day. Some important safety tips: don’t yell or scream around the horses – stay calm. Also, keep one hand on the reins and both feet in the stirrups at all times. This is for your balance and also so you can keep control of your horse. While you’re riding, please feel free to talk quietly with your group. Have fun! Enjoy the scenery and the horses. Take in the scents and sounds around you.
When the ride is finished, your guides will dismount from their horses. Please stay on your horse until a guide comes to help you off. They will hold your horse and offer any assistance you might need in getting down. The ground is usually farther away than you think! Especially after an hour of sitting in the saddle. Once you’re on the ground, head through the gate without walking behind any horses, and you can wait for the rest of your group in the same spot you waited for the trail to begin.
Your trail guides are there to keep everyone safe and to help you if you need it. Feel free to ask them any questions you might have – whether those questions are about horses, riding, or the Ranch. If you feel like chatting, start a conversation with your trail guide. When the ride is finished, it is customary to tip your guide, just as you would a server or bartender.
Now you know what to expect when you book a trail ride. Horseback riding is an enjoyable and memorable experience. If you pay attention to your trail guides and follow their suggestions, you’ll have a wonderful trail ride that you’ll remember for years to come. You can ride at El Rancho during the spring, summer, or fall. Call ahead for reservations at (320) 597-2740 and chat with our friendly staff. We look forward to seeing you!