We are lucky to have a selection of horseback riding stables in this area. When you want to saddle up and ride, there is a stable that is particularly worth the drive to the mountains. We had a wonderful morning ride at Cades Cove Stables. Here is a summary of our trip.
Lisa and I wanted a final, fun activity before work resumed last month so we drove up to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to try the stables located at the entrance. We had tried to ride a week earlier, but a fast moving storm cancelled rides for several hours so we decided to try again a week later. As it turned out, we had the perfect morning and an idyllic ride on our last day of summer vacation.
We wanted to be in the first group (if possible) so we met at 7:30 and drove through Wears Valley in order to arrive by opening at 9:00 a.m. There are no reservations. First come, first serve. There seemed to be about 30 horses in the stables ready to ride. That was a lot more than I was expecting so they can handle different group sizes.
Enter the office, sign a waiver, pay, and choose a riding helmet, if you like. I think that they were optional for adults, but we tried them to ‘get the whole experience.’ We like wearing cool hats too.
You will get a quick lesson from your guide and then saddle up. You can see how easy it is to get up in the saddle with this platform. Lisa’s horse was named Puddin.’
My horse was very gentle and nice. Her name was Noble. She reminded me of a Palomino.
Everyone gets a safety check of bridles, straps, and stirrups. They were very thorough.
And away we go!
The trail is about 3 miles so the ride lasts about an hour. It is mainly flat and woodsy.
About a mile into the ride, the guide will stop and do another quick safety check.
On the way out and back, you get to cross a shallow creek. So relaxing!
We mainly walked, but there were some sections on the trail that we got to trot. I wasn’t expecting that for a trail ride and really enjoyed it!
One thing we really appreciated was the fact that our guide stopped at the halfway point and took pictures with everyone’s cameras so we could remember the moment. It is not recommended to use a camera during a ride because it could scare the horse and you need both hands ready–just in case. I took pictures and video for this blog. If I did it again, I would use my clear camera sports bag and just wear it around my neck. It is not easy juggling a camera and riding so the guides will help you with photography. We really needed help with the picture above so it was a nice service. We left a nice tip to show our appreciation for everything.
At the end of the ride, dismounting is just as easy. You use a platform to get off the horse so all ages can ride.
Dismounting is as easy as pie!
Our guide, Debbie, was the best. I was impressed that she could ride backwards in the saddle while talking to us. Get a picture at the end of hour so you can remember them and your ride in the mountains.
There are children’s rides and carriage rides available as well.
Here is a link: http://www.cadescovestable.com/index.html
In summary, here are the things that we liked the most about this riding stable.
- The horses and healthy and well treated. They get every other day ‘off’ in the pasture.
- These are knowledgable ‘horse people.’ They know what they are doing. They are friendly too.
- The trail is easy so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
- The are times that you may trot, if you like.
- The waiting area is good. We saw a bear on our first trip.
- There is a bathroom next to the office.
- The horses are well tempered and gentle.
Here are some good ideas.
- Wear old shoes or boots.
- Bring a snack and have a picnic in Cades Cove after your ride. Keep it safe from bears in your car.
- Wear a sports camera carrier bag around your neck if you want to take photos.
- I hate a horsefly and there was one that bedeviled our horses during the ride. Be watchful and gently swat at them if they land near the top of the tail where the horse cannot reach as well.
- Maybe wear a hat or a visor.
- Crowds are smaller during local rod run weekends and other big events.
- Tip your wonderful guide!
This was a wonderful way to end our summer vacation. We highly recommend Cades Cove Stables. It is our favorite horseback riding place in the Smoky Mountains!