Girls Horse Club Blog

My Colorado Horse Adventure

Published by • Sep 5th, 2011 • Category: LeadMare Tales

My Colorado Horse AdventureYear after year I dreamt of taking a horse riding trip in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and year after year I came up with excuses for putting it off. I’d tell myself…

It’s expensive.

I’ll feel guilty going on a trip without my hubby.

I’m not a good enough rider.

But this year (which happened to coincide with a milestone birthday), something shifted and I knew my excuses were lame…

I’m worth every penny.

I have a wonderful partner who supports my horsiness.

Not only am I a good enough rider, but this experience will make me better.

So I corralled a dear friend to meet me in Colorado (I live on the west coast, she lives on the east coast), and off I went to join her, 18 other cowgirls and our retreat leaders for a Women’s Quest Colorado Horse Adventure – the ultimate summer horse camp for adults.

Climb in the saddle and follow along with these photo highlights of the experience…

Cowgirl Up!

Cowgirl Up! We arrived at Peaceful Valley Ranch before noon to be greeted by Colleen Cannon, founder of Women’s Quest, super athlete and horse woman, and the most inspiring, joyful woman you’ll ever meet. After checking into our rooms and fueling ourselves with a healthy lunch, we moseyed down to the main corral to join up for the first of many spectacular trail rides.

Ready to Ride

Ready to Ride. Our leaders and a team of skilled wranglers matched us with an equine partner. The plan was to have each rider with the same horse all week, but I rode a different horse each day — primarily because of the shoeing schedule. I’m used to riding a variety of horses so I was perfectly happy to bond with five wonderful horses, like Wildfire here. Each horse was skilled at navigating the miles and miles of (at times) steep, rocky trails leading to spectacular vistas in the area.

The Sisterhood of Horse Girls

The Sisterhood of Horse Girls. All the Peaceful Valley Ranch wranglers were fantastic. Here I am with my friend Sharon (left) and our favorite wrangler (center). Ally is a lifelong horse girl and a beautiful rider with a BIG heart. Soon she and her horse Journey, a Thoroughbred x Quarter Horse, will return to college where she’s studying exercise physiology and working toward a future career in therapeutic riding.

Commute Traffic

Commute Traffic. Every evening 30+ horses were let out of the corral to run up the middle of the road onto a trail leading up the mountain, overlooking the Continental Divide, where dinner awaited. Needless to say, rush hour was a daily highlight. The determined girl toward the front is Cinnamon, lead mare.

Lead Mares

A Meeting of Lead Mares. Here’s Cinnamon again, on the job as she watches over the herd during one of several clinics with horse woman extraordinaire and the human lead mare of our herd, Mary Ann Simonds. You could spend weeks and weeks with Mary Ann and  only scratch the surface of her horsey knowledge and experience. I’m hoping we can interview Mary Ann in the future! In the meantime, check out and see what she has to say in the documentary Wild Horses in Winds of Change.

Animal Talk

Animal Talk. I was up early the second day, eager to capture some of the morning light. As I meandered across the river that ran behind the ranch, I happened upon a pasture housing chickens, a donkey, a sheep and this guy, who sauntered over to greet me. “Oh hai…” he said, “got food?” I had seen the sign saying “Please do not feed the animals,” but I would have broken the rules if I had any treats on me. Who could resist that face?


Horsepower. One evening we all climbed in a big red hay wagon and, thanks to some serious horsepower, traveled along a highway up to where our horses were enjoying dinner. It was fun to see the cars passing by,  smiling and waving as they marveled at our form of transportation.

Dinner Dance

The Dinner Dance. After arriving at the horse pasture, we paused to observe the horses as they jockeyed for position among the food bins. Mary Ann explained their behaviors, evidence of their position in the herd, and tested our knowledge of horses. Later we headed to a lovely picnic area for our own yummy dinner.

Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives. For some odd reason, I feel compelled to flip upside down in beautiful places… On this day we rode nearly 4 hours to Jamestown where our horses had a much-needed rest and we enjoyed an amazing picnic along the river.  Here I am checking out the view from a wooden bridge over the river.

Whirling Dervish

Whirling Dervish. On the last night we cleaned ourselves up for a super fun (and sweaty) barn dance, complete with line dancing lessons and the Limbo. That blur with the red boots is yours truly, showing off my spinning skills.

Howdy Pardner

Howdy Pardner. On the last day I rode Zeus. Although I liked and appreciated all the horses who carried me on their backs throughout the week, Zeus was the one who stole my heart — sweet and responsive (I rarely had to remind him to give clearance between the trees and my legs), thoughtful and sure-footed with plenty of pep. Not to mention incredibly handsome. Who wouldn’t love a horse with a cowboy moustache?

On Top of the World

On Top of the World. Zeus and I traveled, along with our two and four-legged herdmates, up the mountain to a lovely meadow where we dismounted and left our horses to rest while we took a short hike up the rocky terrain to a vista overlooking the Continental Divide in all directions. Huffing and puffing for oxygen at an elevation of more than 9,000 feet, we could appreciate the strength it took for our horses to carry us (and our heavy Western gear) along the trails each day.

Horse Girl Power

Horse Girl Power. Surrounded by the most spectacular scenery you can imagine, we closed the week by pondering our personal Heart’s Desire and sending our intentions out to Mother Nature, ending with a huddle to harness the power of our positive energy. I truly believe if horse girls ran the world, it would be a better place for all beings. That belief was only reinforced through the amazing horse women I met on this journey.

On Cloud Nine

On Cloud Nine. If you’ve read this far, thank you! There’s more to tell about this adventure, but I’ll stop here for now. In the coming weeks I hope to introduce you to some of the horsewomen I met, and ultimately share plans to bring this experience to life with much more than words and pictures. For now, my head is still in the clouds as I continue to distill the learnings, insights and visions from my adventure.

Stay tuned as the next chapter unfolds!


11 Nickers »

  1. Oh wow, Leadmare! Thanks for sharing that experience with us. I’m totally putting a trip like this down on my bucket list :)

  2. So glad you had a good time – you deserved it!

  3. Love the pictures and the story Leadmare! Especially loved the second photo, maybe because I got the chance to ride Western (one hand) yesterday for the first time! Fun experience for sure! (Usually I ride English style on Wetern tack…lol)

  4. Wow. That sounds awesome. I am really looking fwd to hearing more about your time in Colorado and all the horses you met. You’ve given me lots of good reasons to persuade my parents to come on a riding holiday with me, so thanks :-D
    Also Thank you for the brilliant writing, it was so cool to read.
    P.S The pictures are epic and unforgettable ( hopefully like your memories of the ranch, people horses etc)

  5. Absolutely loved reading this Michelle. You had some wonderful adventures up in the CO mountains and it sounded simply amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I would SO love to do that when I’m older! It has 2 things I love: horses and amazing scenery for photography!! Your time there sounds awesome, and I can’t wait to hear more!!

  7. Oh, yeah, and I love the picture of Cinnamon, mostly because she looks like my old lesson horse Lucy!

  8. That sure is an amazing week! I loved hearing about all the fun you had and, of course, admiring the beautiful photos you took. I’m so happy that you got the chance to make your dreams such a wonderful reality.Thanks so much for sharing this with us :) I’m excited to see what’s coming up next.

  9. Thanks for all the nice comments. I hope you all had a memorable season too!

  10. That seems to have been an amazing experience, thank you for sharing it! I hope I could do something similar one day! The photos were beautiful, glad you had fun LeadMare! :)

  11. WOW! thats amazing! I dont ride western though… but i would love to do this!