Western Horseback Riding
Western trail horseback riding is a favorite Alpengirl camp activity and almost ALL of our sessions include at least a day of riding
Our Yellowstone Horseback Adventure includes by far the most horseback riding available on any Alpengirl camp session.
When riding at camp, our focus is on western leisure trail riding, we are not in an arena very often, if at all. Western trail riding at camp is another way we can explore the wilderness and take a break from carrying our own backpack into the wild. Campers don’t need previous riding experience to participate in a day of horseback riding at camp, campers that are new to horse riding or become nervous when horse riding will have an option to switch horses or walk, but, there’s a horse matched to every riders comfort and ability. Campers simply need to tell the outfitters their comfort level and they’ll be matched to a horse accordingly.
Alpengirl Camp Horses
Alpengirl is an adventure travel camp that does not operate in one place or on one property, we go lots of places and see and do lots of different things in different areas during our nomadic travel itinerary. We travel to meet our professional cowgirls or cowboys and their horses, at their properties or ranches where we take off for adventure on horseback. The camp horses we ride are used to all sorts of different riders of all abilities, experience and sizes. The horses are used to the trails we are on, the trail-less areas we go to and the other horses in the group. In Montana, some campers will get to ride a mule! These are the best animals for mountainous trail riding in steep and rugged wilderness terrain - they are smooth and sure-footed and many campers prefer them to horses. Regardless of mule or horse preference, our professional cowboys will fit campers to a horse or mule that is best suited to their size and experience.
Cowgirls & Cowboys
Once we arrive to meet the cowboys and cowgirls, each camper is properly dressed in long pants and boots (we use our hiking boots) and are outfitted with a helmet. Horses are chosen specifically for each person based on their size, riding ability, and comfort level around horses. Sometimes campers get to choose their horses within their riding range, but, ultimately, it is up to the outfitters to decide a good match for each rider. The horses are equipped with bridle, western saddle, and small saddle bags for a water bottle, rain jacket, camera and lunch. Campers may assist with saddling, bridling, brushing their horses as the outfitters see fit.
Horseback Riding, Horsemanship & Cantering
The horses belong to the cowboys and cowgirls we are riding with and they know each horse like the back of their own hand, so, it is up to them how their horses are treated, ridden, matched and how advanced campers may get when riding their horses. The outfitters mount their horses and show us how to urge our horses forward, slow them down, steer them in the right direction, and how to mount and dismount. Then, after a basic horsemanship and riding safety talk with our outfitters, campers will have assistance mounting their horses and will wait for all campers to be ready to ride. As a group, we ride together and throughout the ride we might receive gentle pointers on basic horsemanship skills or learn certain things about each horses personality. Sometimes campers will have a small round pen to practice basic riding techniques in before hitting the trail, and other times we’ll head right out on the trail. Many campers coming to Alpengirl want to canter on horseback, while others in the group don’t want their horses to canter when others are - so, as in all things at Alpengirl, we try to adapt to please as many campers as we can. But, with horses, it is not up to your Alpenguides to make these kinds of decisions, it is up to the cowboys and cowgirls who care for the horses and take us riding. So, in order for campers to advance in riding at camp, they need to show their abilities to the outfitters and let them know what they are interested in - such as cantering or not cantering. Alpengirl has specifically selected outfitters who have an interest in allowing campers to canter if they have proven their ability and if the trail conditions allow it. These outfitters also understand that some campers may not want to canter and are nervous that all horses will want to canter together if allowed, our outfitters have systems in place to discourage horses from doing that and are aware of and sensitive to a variety of comfort levels and abilities in one group of campers.
On the Trail
On top of our sturdy horses, we follow one another along a trail to awe-inspiring views of mountain ranges or look across a vast ocean. Occasionally, our outfitters take us off trail, on a new route each time to maintain pristine conditions, to see places people rarely get to see. All of the trails we ride on are mountainous and rugged and because of this, most of the time, our pace is at a walk. We’ll cross streams, step over fallen trees, forge through left over snowfields and ride in wildflower filled meadows. We’ll take a lunch and have breaks off the horses during the day of riding, we’ll enjoy Alpenolympic events such as snowball fights in the mountains and be sure to take lots of pictures. Campers should consider the Yellowstone Horseback Adventure if horseback riding is a main interest in attending Alpengirl camp this summer.