Coloradans embrace the bounty of wide open spaces and beautiful backcountry opportunities for recreation. In fact, many choose to live here largely due to the outdoor lifestyle that’s available all year long.
And, while it’s mostly a myth that we get 300 days of sunshine annually—in truth, that’s dependent on which part of the state you call home—we are a hale and hearty bunch that doesn’t let a little, or a lot, of winter snow stop us.
In winter months we take advantage of world-class skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing, and year-round activities including hiking and biking. We’re known for our cowboy lifestyle and “don’t fence me in” attitude, and have long been a haven for horse lovers. Accomplished equestrians and weekend wranglers know the breathtaking Colorado scenery looks just a little bit better with a horse in the frame!
Greenhorns learn basic horsemanship on scenic trail rides and pack trips. Many outfitters offer popular options including breakfast rides, where early risers are rewarded with sizzling skillets and fresh-brewed coffee at the end of the trail.
Leisurely all-level rides are a great way to kick your heels up and get some experience, with stables offering everything from children’s pony rides to cowboy-cookouts and cattle drives. Advanced riders with a yen for a true cowboy experience can move-‘em-out in early spring on the Great American Horse Drive, guiding a herd from Sombrero Stables in Craig across sixty miles of open range.
If you want to cover some serious acreage and get up close and personal with Colorado’s unparalleled beauty, the winter views from a saddle are stunning!
Formed more than 230 million years ago, the spiked red rock formations in Garden of the Gods Park were here long before horses arrived in North America. Academy Riding Stables in Colorado Springs is the primary outfitter for trail rides through the park, leading one and two-hour excursions that wind through this geological wonder and are easy enough to be comfortable for beginners.
The eastern gateway to gorgeous Rocky Mountain National Park is in Estes Park, set against a backdrop of sprawling valleys, alpine lakes and thick forested land. Popular outfitters SK Horses and Jackson Stables and Livery set you up for trail riding beneath the towering peaks frosted with icy snowcaps for much of the year, and into the Roosevelt National Forest where you’ll likely spot herds of deer and elk roaming free.
The San Isabel National Forest near Salida offers riding opportunities along Brown’s Creek with outfitters including Deer Valley Ranch and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Stables providing reliable mounts and guided trips. Riders will pass by the numerous waterfalls along the trail as they ascend the valley stretching between Mount Antero and Tabeguache Peak.
There’s a definite Wild West flavor in the southwestern towns of Durango, Pagosa Springs and Ouray, near Colorado’s largest wilderness area—the Weminuche. Riders can trek over the rocky peaks along the Continental Divide on multi-day pack trips…
recommended because many of the scenic spots are more than a day’s ride from the stables. Guides in the area, including San Juan Outfitters and Over the Hill Outfitters, lead the way through wide expanses of meadow and into the shadows of towering mountaintops. In every direction, the scenery is simply breathtaking!
The state is loaded with plenty of guest ranches that allow you to check everything off of your Colorado bucket list from one location. A stay at one of Colorado’s dude ranches lets guests leap into outdoor recreation and western-style fun with unlimited access to riding programs on secluded lands where there’s room to roam. As a bonus, soak those saddle-sore legs in a hot springs or tub after your ride, enjoy luxurious amenities provided for your comfort, and end the day around a warming campfire under a star-soaked sky. When the air is brisk and the scenery is glazed with a fresh fall of snow, the quiet and solitude of these lands seem ageless.
Even as the aspen take on their golden glow, there’s time to saddle up and get your cowboy on in Colorado’s wealth of winter playgrounds.
WHAT THE NEIGH?
Draft Horses are the largest of the horse breeds. Draft Horse Breeds are often referred to as Heavy Horses.
Light Horse Breeds are pleasurable riding horses and have ancient bloodlines, connecting their ancestry back to the oldest breed of horse.
The Falabella is one of the smallest of horses. These tiny horses (not
ponies, but miniature horses) rarely stand taller than 32 inches at
The Konik is a gorgeous horse with a fascinating history. The breed is used for wetland grazing projects. The Konik’s grazing can be used to help restore health and balance to marshy woodland ecosystems, providing
improved habitat for a range of bird species.
The winner for the craziest ears goes to the Marwari Horse. It is a rare breed from the Marwar region of India and is easily identified by the inward-curving ears.
The Bashkir Curly, which is known for its poodle-like coat. Curly horses can have everything from just a little curl in the mane and fetlocks to tight curls all over their body right down to curly eyelashes.