5 Inspiring Ways to Horse Around in Colorado

With a bounty of wide-open spaces and a don’t-fence-me-in attitude, Colorado has long been a haven for horse lovers.

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Horseback riding in Colorado

And, whether you’re an accomplished equestrian, a weekend wrangler or a first-timer, there’s no denying this fact: Even Colorado’s most celebrated vistas look just a little bit better with a horse in the frame. These five unforgettable ways to kick up your heels are just the start.

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1. Buck Up

Even if you’ve never set foot in a stirrup, you can still experience Colorado’s thriving cowboy culture from a safe spot in the bleachers — at one of our many small-town rodeos. The award-winning Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo (June) is a favorite of locals and visitors alike; despite a potentially distracting view of the Rockies to the west, all eyes will be on the thrilling action in the arena. The Brush Rodeo (July) draws more than 2,500 spectators and includes a giant parade and Fourth of July fireworks. More rodeos >>

2. Horse Sense

Don’t let our rugged exterior fool you — Colorado is a great place to be a greenhorn, and a scenic trail ride is a wonderful way to learn some basic horsemanship. Bachelor's Stable near Ouray takes leisurely all-levels rides through the Uncompaghre River Valley, as well as "rogue adventures" crafted by a wrangler. Buena Vista's Mt. Princeton Riding Stables offers everything from kids’ pony rides to scenic sunset clops and weekend hay rides. And for multisport types, there’s the Rusty Spurr Ranch in Kremmling; their cattle-drive experiences let you live out your Wild West dreams of workin' on the range. More riding stables >>

3. Corral Kindness

Colorado is home to dozens of equine rescue centers and sanctuaries, and virtually all of them welcome volunteers. Springfield’s Blue Rose Ranch rescues and rehabilitates unwanted horses — including ex-racehorses and neglected pets — and helps to find them forever homes. Mountain Valley Horse Ranch in McCoy is committed to rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abused, neglected, abandoned and unwanted horses. At Edwards Foundation in Parker, horses with heart-wrenching pasts find love and room to roam. Call in advance to match your skill set with a center’s needs.

4. Creative Canter

Horses are inspiring creatures, and you don’t have be astride a saddle to feel the spark of creativity. At the annual Painting Horses Retreat with acclaimed artist Jill Soukup, held in Sept. at Zapata Ranch in Mosca, curriculum includes equine anatomy, composition and sketching. You can further push your artistic limits with writing and photography workshops — and you'd be hard pressed to find a more scenic local for honing your photography skills. 

5. Move 'Em Out!

Advanced riders can get a truly next-level equine experience with the Great American Horse Drive, which typically takes place late April to late May. A Colorado tradition for more than four decades, the drive gives participants the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move a herd from Sombrero Ranches in Craig across 60 miles of breathtaking open range.

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Horseback riding in Colorado >>