In the sun
ABOVE: Tricia Crofut, right, of Flatrock Mountain Ranch offers children's pony rides at many local
events. Pictured here, Morgan Gardner admires one of Crofut's ponies at the 2006 Family Festival of
Fun in Old Forge. BELOW, FAR LEFT and ON THE COVER: Adirondack Saddle Tours Inc. and
Flatrock Mountain Ranch both offer the tranqulity of experiencing the Adirondack Park on horseback.
Adirondack Saddle Tours Inc.
"Come have a fun and safe time and learn something, not just about
horses, but about the Adirondacks," proclaims John Evans, owner of
Adirondack Saddle Tours, Inc. on Uncas Road in Eagle Bay. "It's
the back way to Raquette Lake and Black Bear Mountain, a road to
Browns Tract State Campsite."
The trails start at the stables and wind gently among the stately
yellow birch, beech and hemlock trees. They follow a wide, old
logging path where only an occasional hiker or biker, but nothing
motorized, may travel. Tall trees and winding paths offer fairly easy
access into the Adirondacks of sunlight and shadow. Serenity and
safety, plus a saddlebag full of fun, are highlights.
Midnight, Shiloh, Patches, Babe and Little Guy are some of the
favorite quarter horses and Tennessee Walkers that children and
adults cherish at the familiar, 23-year-old business.
Chief Guide and assistant Andy Scholl says his daughter began
riding at 18 months. She is now 4 and especially loves Shiloh.
"This year, we would like to focus on kids, families and lessons in
western pleasure or English, as well as our variety of trail rides," John says.
Adirondack Saddle Tours opens when the snow melts, the trails dry,
and it's safe to ride. AST offers guided one- and two-hour rides and
half-day trips. The shorter trips include stops by a stream for photo
ops. The longer trips are to picturesque Cascade Lake or Moss Lake
near Big Moose. These include scenic breaks, depending upon riders'
preference and ability, plus a snack. Guides tell local history and the
history of the Adirondack Park itself.
"I do a tremendous amount of return business," John says. "Parents
call me to say that of all the things done on vacation, kids remember
most the fun on horseback. I take a lot of pride in that. I keep 20-22
horses to rotate and match with people's ability. I keep groups a fair
size. We even lap-in youngsters. That is, we put a small one right in
front of us with a guide. Safety is most important."
John and his assistants are careful to introduce riders to the fundamentals
as needed, often giving a free, 20-minute lesson and get acquainted time.
"We actually go through about three hundred pounds of carrots a
week in treats for horses," Andy says.
"For close to a quarter century I've been having fun on horseback,"
John says. "I count my blessings each day ... I would like to
accommodate handicapped youngsters if volunteers would assist in a
reciprocal format. I hope to have someone learn to sign for the deaf
or hearing impaired. I have many ideas to help others."
Adirondack Saddle Tours and Flatrock Mountain Ranch share key
ingredients. They offer low impact, high quality opportunities to enjoy
the land, its creatures and people. Neither sells their horses at the end
of the season as some might. They pay the price to winter them over,
keeping them in fine shape and training. John Evans plans a special
price program for such families in need and expects to have a five
bedroom accommodation by August '07. There will be weekend
packages and special arrangements for an hour lesson and then a ride.
"Military families with spouses serving in battle zones will receive
special consideration as well," he said.
Adirondack Saddle Tours also offers discount packages for group
rides and packages that combine with other Adirondack attractions in
our west central playground, such as the Adirondack Museum,
Enchanted Forest/Water Safari and canoe and kayak trips.
Flatrock Mountain Ranch and Adirondack Saddle Tours share key
ingredients. They offer low impact, high quality opportunities to
enjoy the land, its creatures and people. Tom and Tricia keep about
10 of their horses all year and lease others. John keeps all 20 of his
horses all year long. They do not buy and sell horses at the end of the
season as some might, but pay the price to winter them over, keeping
them in fine shape and training. Both own and have close ties to
horses and nature, not as a commodity, but as a heartfelt way of life,
learning and love. Horse riders often say that nothing matches seeing
the world from the back of a horse. So, come, let's ride!
Tom and Tricia Crofut, Flatrock Mountain Ranch
13 Okara Rd., Okara Lakes, N.Y.; (315) 369-2657
John Evans, Adirondack Saddle Tours Inc.
Uncas Road, Eagle Bay, N.Y.
(315) 357-4499 or www.Adkhorse.com.
Reservations preferred, not required.