Playing cowgirl at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

I grew up riding horses, but I am no cowgirl. I used to ride my girlfriends’ horses and ponies and they routinely bucked me off. Today, I’m a bit of a nervous rider and horses know it.

Ryan and I stayed at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado back in March, during their “Spring into Spring” weekend. While best known as a ranch where guests stay for a week, Sylvan Dale now offers weekend stays; the perfect opportunity for Front Range folks to check out this amazing place.

Our stay included all meals and ranch activities such as a guided nature hike, campfire songs and a horseback ride.

The Sylvan Dale Horses getting the afternoon off. Playing cowgirl at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.
The Sylvan Dale horses get the afternoon off.

Our trail guide was Lonnie, who has been at Sylvan Dale for years. It was just Ryan and I on the ride and as we mounted our respective horses, big Buckaroo for Ryan (phew) and Jiminey for me, I could feel the usual tension rise in my shoulders and hips as I tried to settle into the saddle and act natural.

As we set out through the landscape which was starting to turn a pretty early spring green, Jiminey’s gates was slow and steady. We’d been at the 3200 acre ranch for 24 hours and were already in love with the place.

We passed a pasture full of Sylvan Dale horses. Jiminey  gazed longingly at the field and tried to go over and say hi to his friends several times, but I pulled the reins tight, forcing him to stay on task.

Riding through a stream at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. Playing Cowgirl at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.
It must be a really gorgeous on this trail when all the trees have leafed out!

About 15 minutes into the ride I started to feel more comfortable and even gently kicked Jiminey  into a fast walk/trot to catch up when we’d get too far behind; he was more interested in the scenery, specifically new grass shoots, than staying up with Ryan and Lonnie’s horse.

The trails at Sylvan Dale are like something right out of a John Wayne western. We wound through trees, crossed a small creek several times and climbed up and down rocky terrain. Lonnie told us all sorts of interesting facts and stories about the ranch, and we started to feel like real cowboys. The surrounding scenery certainly played to our fantasy.

By the time we got back to the barn, I was feeling truly comfortable riding Jiminey. On the way back, Ryan, who did not grow up riding, but is a natural, started talking about the possibility of taking riding lessons so that he could participate in Sylvan Dale’s Adventure Riders Program one day. These riders get to participate in the ranch’s cattle roundup.

Ryan Schlaefer on Buckaroo at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. Playing cowgirl at Sylvan Dale Guest.
My husband, the horseback riding natural.

There are a number of horseback rides available at Sylvan Dale for guest of the ranch or day visitors; from one-hour outings to overnight trips. They even offer riding lessons. Visit here to learn more of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch’s horseback riding options.

Read the first part of this 3-part series, “An escape to Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.”

Read the second part of this series, “A nature walk at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.”

Thank you to  Visit Loveland, Colorado  and  Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch  for hosting us on this trip.

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