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Happy trails
Exploring Cacades from back of a horse
The great thing about all those snowmobile trails at  1Mountain Springs Lodge is they turn into horseback riding trails in summer. Just ask Erin Boyes, wrangler, Army veteran and your New Best Friend when you’re out there riding horseback in the beautiful mountains just a short drive from the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth.

Erin is the one who will give you the inside scoop on how to ride your horse safely and make sure you get on a horse that’s perfect for you. You may end up on a “point and shoot” horse that basically follows the rear end of the horse ahead of it or, if you’re more experienced, you might get a horse that will more readily respond to your lead. Whichever type is required, Erin knows what horse will fill the bill.

Lots of families and novice riders show up for the trail rides at Mountain Springs Lodge, many of them not actually staying at the lodge. When you meet up with Erin, she’ll spend time going over basic instruction, answer whatever questions you have and then head ‘em up and move ‘em out – the horses, that is.

They are, in fact, all beginner horses and there are 19 of them altogether. Some will let you exert a little bit of control, while others are pretty much pre-programmed to provide the least experienced riders with a fun, safe ride.

Erin had extensive experience riding as she was growing up. “I was a horse-crazy kid,” she remembers. “I’d muck stalls and get to ride horses. Then I joined the Army and traveled for 10 years and got back into riding – now I’ve got the job of my dreams.”

Now she spends a lot of time getting to know her horses. “It’s different when you’re riding the same horse vs. 19 horses -- when you have different personalities and have to know who is going to go well with that horse.” The trail rides at Mountain Springs Resort are offered in different lengths – two miles, four miles, 6 miles, 8 miles and a 10-mile trip to the top of a mountain where the riders have a picnic. The number of participants varies with the time of week and Erin says, if it’s mid-week, there’s a good chance it will just be your party on the ride.

The minimum age is eight, but there is no limit as to how old you can be to ride. “If they can get up on the horse with a step stool, they can ride,” Erin said.

The shorter rides are fairly flat and Erin says there are no major elevation gains until the eight- and 10-mile rides. There is a combination of narrow trails through bushes and wider trails through woods, while riders also will enjoy meadows with wildflowers and riding alongside a stream. The views in this part of the mountains are spectacular and guests find the trail rides at Mountain Springs Lodge to be quite scenic.

Prices range from $27 per person for two miles to $135 per person for the 10-mile ride and picnic. Riders can also get a lesson for $45, which includes two miles of riding and practice in an arena.

All types and ages of people have been enjoying the Mountain Springs Lodge trails – families, couples visiting for their anniversary, grandparents taking their grandkids riding, reunions and large groups. Erin says one of her favorite types of customer is the one who has had a bad experience on a horse. She says it’s fun to show them what riding can be like and observe them while they see it’s not as bad as they had built up in their minds. Some of her horses are quite gentle and perfect for the nervous rider.

Located at Plain, WA, Mountain Springs Lodge has log cabins and other lodging units available for rent in addition to such activities as zip lines, hiking and swimming. For more information on Mountain Springs Lodge and lodge activities, please go to www.mtsprings.com or phone 800-858-2276.
PHOTOS: Wrangler Erin Boyes
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Leavenworth lodging
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