Let's Ride

Equine Etiquette 101: Top Tips for the Trails

Plus four area outfitting companies to take you into the high country.

By Allison Pattillo August 6, 2016 Published in the Midsummer/Fall 2016 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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A trail ride in the high country near Aspen. 

Top Tips

Prep for your ride with suggestions from local outfitter Brian Welder of Maroon Bells Guide and Outfitters at T Lazy 7 Ranch:

  • Even on the warmest days, wear long pants and tall socks to protect your legs from scrapes and chafing.
  • Leave the flip-flops or open-toed shoes at home; boots are ideal, but stout running or hiking shoes will work.
  • Be honest about your riding ability; doing so will help your wrangler pair you with the appropriate horse.

 Share Nicely

You may have seen the yellow triangular signs at trailheads. They give critical yet simple information on how to share the trail. In sum, horses have the right of way over cyclists and hikers. But, as local equestrian Tony Vagneur notes, “When you’re on horseback and meet up with a bike or motorbike, it’s not the time to assert your right of way.”

  • Bikers yield to horses and pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians yield to horses.
  • Initiate contact and talk to other trail users about the safest way to pass.

Saddle Up

Capitol Peak and Aspen Wilderness Outfitters
Prices: $70 (one-hour rides)–$440 (overnight pack trips)
Trail-worthy moment: About a quarter of the way in on the Capitol Creek lunch ride ($150), when 14,130-foot-high Capitol Peak begins to tease its way into sight.

Independence Pass Outfitting Company
Prices: $150 (two-hour rides)–$450 (full-day rides)
Trail-worthy moment: Stopping to angle for trout at high-altitude Lost Man Reservoir during the half-day fishing ride ($300); a packhorse totes rods and reels, along with lunch. 

Maroon Bells Guide and Outfitters
Prices: $75 (one-hour rides)–$850+ (overnight rides to Crested Butte)
Trail-worthy moment: Bypassing the crowds around the Maroon Bells on the four-hour East Maroon lunch ride ($175) while enjoying views of the peaks and scores of columbines. 

Snowmass Creek Outfitters
Prices: $80 (one-hour rides)– $700 (overnight pack trips)
Trail-worthy moment: Riding through sagebrush studded with Indian paintbrush during the breakfast ride ($155) in Snowmass Village, after noshing on eggs Florentine made fireside.

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