It's my Monday off again, and today I'm going horseback riding! Wow, it's been a few years since my last time, and I'm a little nervous. After all, I'm not getting any younger!
But - I couldn't resist buying a Groupon at Chaparral Ranch in Milpitas which offered a 1-hour trail ride for $20 instead of the regular $40. I used to go horseback riding a lot as a teenager and always had a blast (well, almost always - not counting that one time when I was thrown off the horse three times and ended up in the hospital with a concussion. I don't even remember getting on that horse a third time!)
I made a reservation for noon today, and luckily I'm the only person there for a ride. The weather is sunny and warm. In fact, it's the first warm day of the year that feels like summer!
Chaparral Ranch is a 300-acre ranch located in the foothills of Milpitas, right next to Ed Levin Park. I park in front of the General Store, show them my Groupon, and sign a form before I can start. Heather is my friendly and cheerful guide. I put on a helmet and Heather walks me to my horse, Sky.
Sky looks like a friendly horse, and so she is. A little lazy, maybe. I hop on the horse, and off we go. As soon as we leave the ranch, we ride past a meadow with dozens, probably close to 100, goats behind an electric fence. The goats are used for weed control in the park. They get very excited when they see the horses and run away making funny noises. The horses don't seem to mind the goats at all. We ride next to Sandy Wool Lake, and enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding foothills and the valley.
A little further down the trail we pass a dog park and the infamous hang gliders of Milpitas. (Remember the bumper sticker: Hang glide to your death in scenic Milpitas?) Next to the parking lot we see several turkeys with very tiny babies. My guide warns me that she got between a mama turkey and her young ones before, and the mother literally attacked the horse and scared it away. So I make sure I don't disturb the cute turkey family.
We ride a little farther out, then make a U-turn in the field and ride back the same way we came. Sky seems to like the way back to the stable better and is much more responsive when prompted to speed up. There are some holes and loose dirt on the trail, and we have to watch where we are walking. We walk the horses most of the time, but trot a few times and gallop once.
We see two large jackrabbits on the hillside when we are almost back to the stable. I enjoy the ride a lot, and by the end I feel comfortable on a horse again. I will go back again in the fall.