How to Choose a Quality Riding Stable

Sylvan Dale Ranch Livery Stable

On the Rail at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch ⇱


Choosing a quality riding stable

Heads up! If you are looking for a quality horseback riding adventure near Fort Collins or Loveland, you may find the experience is not that easy to find.

A few weeks ago we received a call from our good friend Jeff Anderson at Tip Top Ranch in Bellvue letting us know that they have closed their riding operation and guest facilities. Now, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch remains the sole riding stable in the area. In this article you will learn how to choose a quality riding stable.

When choosing a riding facility here are some things to look for:

Quality of facility and equipment

The Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch Horse Barn

The Horse Barn

Before you schedule your ride, do a ‘drive by.’ Well-kept facilities are a good indication of a good riding experience.

Observe for cleanliness, well maintained fences, organization of tack. A well-kept facility is the first indicator of a quality riding experience.

Quality of stock

Where did the horse you will ride come from?

Some livery stables lease horses; others own their horses. Rarely will you find a riding stable that raises registered horses. Generally speaking, those that raise their horses have better quality horses—prettier, better bone and mind.

How are horses cared for?

You can spot a horse that is well cared for by its appearance. The coat is sleek and shiny (except in the winter when horses add another layer for warmth!) Eyes are bright. Hooves are trimmed and shod. Manes and tails are groomed.

Susan with new foal

Susan with new foal ⇱

Notice if horses spend their day standing "on the rail" in the sun verses in the shade with ‘free feed’ available. Horses should be watered before and after every ride.

Never ride a horse that you suspect has received drugs to mask pain. It is not only unfair to the horse but unsafe for you.

If horses are pastured at night, instead of being kept in pens 24/7, they have the freedom to move and graze at will. Just like us, a good night’s rest makes for a good day on the trail!

Will your horse be responsive?

Riding a horse that responds easily to your requests increases the enjoyment of your ride. The training of the horse is key. Horses that receive professional training in their younger years have a head start in becoming a responsive mount.

Quality of wrangler crew

Horseback riding adventure at Poison Point - 600x850

Horseback Ride at Poison Point ⇱

Your wrangler is your ticket to a safe and enjoyable riding experience. A quality riding stable will have wranglers who are horse professionals. They will have had years of riding experience and will be enthusiastic about sharing their western life style with you.

A wrangler who greets you with a firm handshake and a friendly smile assures that you will have an authentic riding experience. First aid and CPR training are a must!

Quality of Location

A big part of a good ride is the view on the trail. A varied terrain offers more eye candy! Mountains, streams, meadows, open areas and forested hillsides provide habitat for birds, bears, coyotes, and bighorn sheep.

Quality of Program

Finally, check out the options of riding activities. Even if you are initially looking for an hour trail ride, realizing that you can saddle up for breakfast ride, steak ride, or an overnight pack trip will expand your riding horizons.

If you want to improve your riding skills, asks if the riding stable offers western horsemanship instruction. Sylvan Dale offers a unique program called "Adventure Riders" for riders who qualify as intermediate to advanced.

Whatever your riding ability and interest you can "mount up" for a quality riding experience if you know how to choose a quality riding stable, and do your homework first!