I’m a fan of Billy Crystal’s “City Slickers.” I’ve dreamed of spending a vacation on a working ranch, herding cattle from a ranch in New Mexico up to Colorado. Along the way, birthing a calf and getting to keep him. But, alas, a cowboy’s life was not meant to be. Even though, my childhood nickname was Cowboy.
I at least got fulfill part of that fantasy when Lisa and I took part in a horseback ride in Hendricks County, Indiana. OK, it was a guided ride along a trail, but it was fun, nonetheless. Natural Valley Ranch in Brownsburg was our host. About a dozen people took part in the nearly hourlong ride.
The ranch’s staff actually ensures you develop a good understanding of your horse and that the two of you mesh well. Riders spend several minutes on their horse, slowly moving around a corral. It’s to ensure they get good control over their animal.
Lisa met a little friend that she wanted to take home. I did put my foot down, as three cats are more than enough for her.
Once everyone was set, we were off. We galloped through high brush and splashed water as we crossed a river. Oops, flash back to scenes from “City Slickers.” Sorry about that. We actually did ride through high brush and wooded areas, but there was no galloping. In fact, my horse – Hawkeye – was 20 years old and he was over running or galloping. He, like myself, preferred a slow walk, so we could both take in the scenery.
The ride was fun, because we went places I’ve never experienced previously on trail rides. Usually, the guide tries to keep riders on an open route. With Natural Valley Ranch, we rode through wooded areas, along creek banks. There was even some uphill and downhill (small inclines) riding. You have to adjust your body during these moves so you don’t create undue pressure on the horse.
Did you know that if a horse gets too close to the one in front of it, that horse will send off a signal, such as twitching its tail a couple of times or pinning its ears back? If the trailing horse continues to stay too close, the front horse will kick it with a rear leg. We had that happen a couple of times during the ride. No one or no horse was hurt.
We saw some nice natural scenery during the ride. Before we knew it, the hour had passed and we had to return to the ranch. Riding Hawkeye was a pleasure. Lisa enjoyed her time riding Maggie.
Natural Valley Ranch has been in business more than a decade. They offer horseback rides year round (depending on the weather). The ranch makes you feel like you in the middle of country, despite being about 20 miles from Indianapolis.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Hendricks County Tourism for the complimentary riding experience. However, all opinions and views are ours.