Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Horseback Riding at Faith Ranch

Photos by OHventures

Time to saddle up!

Horseback riding has been on my Buckeye Bucket List for quite a while now, and it was one that I was beginning to worry I would never accomplish! When I was 17, I got to ride a horse at my sister-in-law’s mother’s house, but it was such a short ride that I barely recall! In essence, I do not count that experience when I was 17 because I am pretty sure it lasted for about 100 yards or so. Plus, it was in Pennsylvania, and we all know that nothing gets checked off of the Buckeye Bucket List that happens outside of Ohio.

Therefore, it was a very pleasant surprise when Faith Ranch contacted me and asked if I wanted to take part in an hour-long trail ride. Located in the city of Jewett, in Carroll County, Faith Ranch is a Christian-based camp with a riding stable and retreat center.

For over 40 years, Faith Ranch has been offering horseback riding adventures by the hour, the day, and even the weekend in a multitude of packages. Many young children come to Faith Ranch on school field trips, scouting events, or on the high adventure horsemanship summer camp to learn about faith, horses, ranch life and friendship while partaking in nature hikes, crafts, archery, pony cart rides, rapelling, cattle round ups, and overnight wilderness excursions. 

In addition to the camp life, there are also group retreats for folks of all ages, which include meals, lodging, horseback riding, hayrides, and other activities for 24-hour or 40-hour periods.You can customize a retreat or even attend a weekend family camp as well.

The great thing about Faith Ranch is that it is open YEAR ROUND and offers horseback trail rides that are charged by the hour. You don't need any experience prior to coming, and you can come alone or in a group! Most folks come to Faith Ranch for the same reason I did: to hop on a horse and explore the 4,000 acre property in the peaceful and secluded countryside. The base rate is only $25 an hour, which is a steal (it's even cheaper if you have a larger group)! If you prefer to come and take private or group riding lessons prior to tackling a trail, Faith Ranch has you covered on that end, too!

I arrived at Faith Ranch for a quick hour-long trail ride. I was a bit nervous - more nervous than when I went ziplining, but not as nervous as when I went skydiving, to put it into perspective.  A short prayer precedes each trail ride, which is good for a number of reasons. For starters, I am Christian and so there’s never a bad time to pray. And secondly, I was scared out of my wits to get on top of this large animal and trot around unknown terrain with zero experience. I was going to need all the prayer I could get!

Jokes aside, the trail guides (Candy and Dave) assured me that everything would be safe, and they even provided me with a helmet. Candy and Dave had many years of experience working not only at Faith Ranch but with their own horses up near Cleveland. We were in good hands, spiritually and physically (and legally, too, given that I signed a waiver and all)!

After a few awkward minutes on the horse (whose name was Presence), I started to get the hang of things, and even got to the point where I was able to relax and enjoy the ride! As expected, the scenery was fantastic, and the horses were so gentle and magnificent.

I had so much fun chatting with Candy and Dave as they guided me along the trail, pointing out local landmarks and telling stories of all of their years at the ranch. They taught me a great deal about riding a horse: how to hold the reigns and the proper words to say to the horse to get him to go (WALK) or stop (WOAH) or trot (TROT, naturally). The trotting was pretty thrilling, as was going downhill!

The hour long ride went by so quickly, and I had only wished that I had booked a longer trip. But, it probably was for the best, as my entire rear end was already sore from the saddle. Either I need more experience on horses, or I need more padding on my butt. Either way, I sadly had to end the trail ride and say goodbye to Candy, Dave, and of course Presence. 

Next time I come, I will be bringing my whole family along, and we will most definitely schedule more than just a one hour ride. There is so much to see and do at Faith Ranch that you need much more time than that! Thanks again to the fine folks at Faith Ranch for this wonderful OHventure.

Maybe I should stick to fake horses?

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