Arizona’s arid beauty can only really be appreciated the old fashion way… by horse.
Just north of Scottsdale is Cave Creek Outfitters horse ranch. Operating for 20 years, they offer a variety of horseback riding excursions from one hour to a full day (with lunch). I hadn’t been on a horse in a few years, and Tom had avoided it for the last 30 after a frightful experience, so we opted for a two hour ride through the valley.
The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and picked out the horses by size and personality. Cheryl, who was our guide, had personally raised 12 of the 40+ horses at the ranch. My horse’s name was Salt. She had a sibling named Pepper. She was calm and responsive to my rein commands, though she wanted to get to the front of the line to lead everyone. Tom asked for the most gentle or oldest horse and wound up with a huge, but steady mare named Peach.
Cheryl pointed out the different cacti around us on our journey through the Sonoran Desert, and gave us desert ecology tidbits. The barrel cactus has pink thorns and only grow 1 inch every 10 years. The saguaro cactus only grows arms after 50-75 years. Woodpeckers carve out burrows in the saguaro cactus to nest in that are later used by thrushes and other animals.
It was a gentle walk through sand up to a boulder outlook and back to the ranch. I had complete trust in my horse, and felt very relaxed as I enjoyed the scenery. Jeep and ATV tours are not allowed on the land used by our horses which minimized the erosion of the natural land. Besides some horses constant snacking (rider error), no one had any troubles. Tom even said he’d be open to future horseback riding outings.
Cave Creek Outfitters has expanded its entertainment area to accommodate groups up to 120. Catering is done on the premises. If you’re looking for a relaxing Wild West experience for your next conference, contact Cave Creek Outfitters at www.cavecreekoutfitters.com.