The meeting point for all horse related activities (Horse Basics, Scenic Horseback Ride, Horseback Qualification Ride & Cattle Drive) as well as the Adventure Trek is at the Activity Barn. This is also where you go to exchange your boots or cowboy hats if they don't fit.
Since we were the first to arrive, we managed to camwhore for a little bit. Don't I look like a cowgirl here? :P For this activity, it is required that you wear your cowboy riding boots. It's so much more comfortable when you place your feet on the stirrups. If for whatever reason you don't have the boots with you, they would advise you to wear something with a little bit of heel or tennis shoes. Cowboy hats are optional but for photo op purposes, it would pretty cool if you had them on!
We went inside the Activity Barn to get some Powerade to take along with us on the ride. There are two large saddlebags on each horse, so you can carry along your drinks and snacks if you like. We also had the chance to check out the saddles and other riding equipment in there. Cool stuff!!
Once everybody arrived, they brought us out to the horses. When we arrived at the airport on the first day, we had to fill in a form stating our weight, height, riding experience and stuff. This is to help them match up the correct horse to rider. They had already done the match up earlier on, so we just had to wait for our names to be called and they will help us mount the horse that we were matched up with. You can see one of the ranchers fixing my stirrups in this picture. My legs were way too short and I couldn't reach it at all! :P
All set and ready to ride! Meet Jack, the handsome black stallion that I was matched up with. I think he knows that he is good looking, hence..he can get a bit uncooperative sometimes. The ranchers already warned me that he likes to test the waters to see how much he can bully the rider. So, I would have to be firm and not let him push me around. He doesn't really like to listen to instructions, loves to stop by the wayside to graze on grass while the other horses are walking in line and would sometimes just take off galloping. I really don't know why they matched me up with Jack (since I wrote on the form that it's my first time riding) Hahaha :P
After that little warning, we were off! Most of the photos that you will see is of me, cos Kevin was the one holding the camera. There were eight of us on that ride, with two ranchers - one leading and one riding by the side.
We started off the ride on flat ground, in the plains. The scenery was so beautiful (yes, I know..I cannot say enough about how beautiful Montana is). At this point, Jack was still behaving and only stopped to eat some grass a couple of times. I just had to kick him with both sides of my boots (had to try a few times cos I wasn't kicking hard enough :P) and he would continue walking.
We then started to climb uphill and we saw lots of black angus cattle as well as deer. We also noticed the vegetation and scenery beginning to change, from tall grass on flat ground to coniferous trees on hilly rough terrains.
We made our way up and down hillsides, while passing tall coniferous trees. We even crossed a few small creeks. The greenish grey shrubs that you can see on the right side of the photo is actually sage bushes. Sage grows wild all over Montana. At this point, Jack was really being naughty and getting out of control. At one point, he just galloped away from the rest and I had to pull both the reigns to stop him. Pretty scary for a first timer :P He also decided that he would turn around in circles and refuse to listen to me. So, the rancher had to lead him and make sure that he behaves.
We came to a clearing up on higher ground and took a break for the horses to rest up for a bit. At last, here is a photo of Kevin and his horse, Energizer. Energizer looks really tired in this photo, I guess he too had a long day. Look at how Jack just poses for the camera, boy, he sure is vain horse!
Look at the amazing view of the town and lake from this lookout point. It gives you an idea of how big Crazy Mountain Ranch is...all this belongs to Philip Morris, for as far as the eye can see. Bozeman is behind those mountain ranges.
After this, it was riding downhill all the way. Soon, we were back on the plains and heading towards town once more. The whole ride lasted about an hour and a half (including all the rest stops). It was the first time I actually rode a horse (not counting those kiddy rides at carnivals), so it was a good experience. Kevin of course had quite a lot of experience in riding horses, after all those years of summer camp while he was growing up. All I can say is that it was an interesting experience for me and the beautiful scenery as well as the experience of riding a horse out in Marlboro country made up for all the painful saddle burn that I had to endure for the next few days! :P
* Click here to be directed back to the Crazy Mountain Ranch Homepage. You can check out other ranch related posts as well as look at photos from the ranch during our Summer 2009 trip!