By Jan Westmark
I’m always up for a good riding adventure and I love the Winston Churchill quote: “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.” I know this famous line rings true for many horse people.
My latest riding adventure took me to Idaho. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know much about Idaho except they grow potatoes, but after a “week of a lifetime” at the Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Northern Idaho, near Lake Coeur d’Alene, I will always think of Idaho as a fabulous place to spend time in the saddle. Thanks to this amazing guest ranch, I also spent time having massages, enjoying incredible food, listening to cowboy poetry around a roaring fire under a brilliant starry sky, taking yoga classes, line dancing at the saloon, getting to know the wonderful guests and staff and so much more.
The Adventure Begins
My adventure in Idaho began when I called my daughter Abby in England. “Want to meet me at the Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho for Ladies Week?” She called me back in less than an hour. “I Googled the ranch and it looks awesome. I just booked a flight to Spokane, Washington. I’ll meet you there. Let’s ride!”
I took a look at the website and was also excited by the beautiful guest cabins, fabulous food, trail rides that featured stunning scenery and an endless list of fun activities. Luckily for us, and for all the guests who visit Red Horse Mountain, the real life experience is even better than the pictures. In addition to our Ladies Week, Red Horse also offers adult weeks, family weeks, couples weeks and wine tasting weeks.
Abby and I met at the airport in Spokane, where Red Horse arranged a shuttle to take us, and several other ladies, to the ranch. Nestled on 300,000 acres, the ranch is a dream come true for getting away from it all and we had a great chance to start our week of relaxation while enjoying the scenery on the way to the ranch. The ranch is mountainous with incredible views — and I couldn’t wait for our riding adventures to begin.
Time To Saddle Up
Each guest is assigned their own horse for the week, and my equine partner was a big black Quarter Horse cross with a white blaze named Oreo. He was mellow with a great rocking horse canter and after a week of loping (the Western version of cantering) along beautiful mountain trails, I was ready to bring him home. Abby and Doc became partners, which turned out to be a great pairing — Abby likes to go fast and Doc was happy to oblige.
Red Horse understands if riders know how to ride and they’re happy to take advanced riders on their own adventures. One guide took just Abby and I on a ride and promised us lots of loping — but instead we went a speed that made my eyes tear up just a bit. The ranch also offers a scenic ride every day and we took several of those. They were slow, mostly at a walk, but beware — if you aren’t used to riding in the mountains, the views also come with lots of cliffs and drop offs as well as frequent clutching of the saddle horn and gasping for breath. But if you’re brave, the views are worth it.
While Abby and I enjoyed our time in the saddle, Red Horse didn’t disappoint when it came to other adventures. Every day we signed up for something new — from archery to a ropes course, clay shooting to zip lining and fly fishing to yoga class. It was one fantastic adventure after another. One afternoon we had massages (included during Ladies Week), worked on pottery in the pottery barn and then relaxed in the hot tub near the pool. It was perfect.
We enjoyed the wine and cheese on the back porch of the main lodge overlooking the mountains every afternoon, where Abby and I had a great time chatting with the other guests. After a fabulous dinner (all the meals were wonderful) we spent the nights enjoying great activities: campfires, dancing, karaoke, gazing at the starry sky and one night we had a five-course dinner that was an incredible delight.
Getting Away From It All
If you’re up for a change of pace, then round up your family and friends and ride out to Red Horse Mountain Ranch. A week away from our fast-paced world is the perfect thing to recharge your batteries. Red Horse Mountain Ranch is all-inclusive — so it’s like a cruise but even better: you still get to ride horses!
Thanks to my time spent in the saddle in Idaho, I met some great new friends, had a wonderful week with my daughter and have fond memories of a big horse named Oreo. I’ll be back to ride again, Red Horse Mountain Ranch, because no hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.