Saddle Up The Horses and Hit The Trails!
Spring has sprung and even though the calendar tells us that the first day of spring was March 21, the weather these past few weeks has indicated otherwise. What a mild winter! But with the warmer weather comes mowing the yard, weeding flowerbeds, and tilling the gardens! But it also brings the itch to get in the horse saddle and hit some trails. So put down those garden tools and head to Harpole’s Heartland Lodge for a break! You won’t be sorry!
Situated between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and overlooking the Missouri river bluffs, the lodge is a great place to meet other horse lovers or novice horseback riders. There are miles and miles of horse riding trails on Heartland’s unique 700 acre setting and you will be in awe at nature’s beauty as you ride through prairies, forests, and creeks.
If you have your own horses like Dan and I, load them up along with your tack, and take them to the lodge for a ride. Stalls are available at Heartland to board your own horses while you enjoy all that the lodge has to offer. Hay, water and clean stalls are provided for your four-legged friend. We have only taken our horses once but were extremely pleased with the experience – the horses loved it! A tack problem that weekend shortened our riding time but we were able to spend some time working Kazell and Stormy in the outdoor arena adjacent to the stables. It was a great trip for all of us. Dan has since had to put Kazell down and the timing just hasn’t worked for us to take our own horse again – maybe someday!
Don’t own any horses or have not ridden before? Don’t worry! The lodge has several horses that we have even ridden over the years – Nick, Josie and Willy have been among our favorites. Guided horse rides are available hourly so we try to ride both on the afternoon that we arrive as well as the next morning after breakfast. I think the morning ride is our favorite – the air is cooler – and it is probably the best time to see a deer go bouncing through the prairie grass. The guides are very respectful of your riding skill – there are trails for both the novice and experienced riders. Throughout the years, our guides have been great conversationalists – answering the questions we may have and even sharing their own life story. But if you want to enjoy a quiet ride while listening to the sounds of nature, you can’t go wrong with a morning ride.
When making your reservations at the lodge, consider a “Romantic Ride for Two.” This special horse ride is for couples only and reservations must be made in advance. This two-hour horseback ride is led by a professional guide through some of the most beautiful scenery in the mid-west. A surprise awaits the two of you at your destination – a linen tablecloth spread out – complete with flowers and a wicker basket of fruit, sandwiches, and sparkling grape juice. If you are staying two or more nights, consider this for lunch one day!
Want to see what goes on behind the scenes at a horse stable or equestrian facility? Check out Heartland’s Horse Lover’s Vacation Packages. These multi-night packages not only include horse-back rides but offer guests the chance to feed and water the horses as well as brush and saddle them up before a ride. Feeling brave? You can even help clean stalls! And after the day of riding is done, you can help unsaddle, wash and brush the horses before putting them out to pasture for the night. What a great experience for someone considering buying a horse – learn about the care before investing the money!
So whether you ride regularly or once a year like some, you can’t go wrong with checking out the trails at Heartland. Our morning ride is something we both look forward to each year and all I can say is that September won’t be here soon enough!
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