Cherokee County and the surrounding areas offer a number of outdoor activities for community members and visitors. Along with golf, skateboarding, hiking, swimming, and tennis, horseback riding is also a cherished pastime.
Equestrians can go horseback riding on specified trails at a few locations. The Sequoyah Riding Stable, for instance, is a favorite for many, as it is a close and affordable option for those who wish to go horseback riding.
“We’re located inside Sequoyah State Park across from the golf course,” said Cheyenne Kirk, stable manager.
Like many attractions in the state park, the stables run a seasonal schedule.
"We are open through Labor Day, Tuesday through Sunday, and our first ride starts at 8:30 a.m. for a one-hour guided trail ride. The cost per person is $25,” said Kirk. "After Labor Day, we will be moving to weekends only.”
Twin Pines Ranch, 24675 E. 757 Road, is another option that is close to town. According to its website, Twin Pines Ranch offers expert instruction in English riding; teaches a firm foundation in correct riding techniques; offers lessons in horse psychology; and instructs on how to safely handle and ride a horse.
“I teach people how to speak horse,” said Rita Bergman, Twin Pines owner and riding instructor. “That’s what I usually tell them. I teach them how to make the horse understand them. I also teach people how to break and train their own horse because it doesn’t do me any good to break their horse for them. They need to have that relationship with their horse. I’m also a therapeutic certified riding instructor.”
Ridin’ High Horseback Riding Lessons in Muskogee teaches horseback riding to ages 3 and older. The lessons are tailored to each rider’s skills, and students will learn all aspects in working with a horse. For more information, call 405-826-5531 after 5 p.m.
Others in the Tahlequah area may wish to purchase their own horses for riding purposes. Many community members did just that during a Bureau of Land Management wild horse and burro adoption event this past weekend at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds. Noah Davis was one of many people present.
“I plan on buying a couple,” said Davis. “I like to work with them and ride them around from time to time.”
There are also many trails for riders who already own their own horses and would like to ride freely without guides. LeeAnn Dreadfulwater has been riding horses for 45 years and loves the trail systems Oklahoma has to offer.
“Within an hour or two of Tahlequah, you can ride at well-established and mapped systems such as Robbers Cave and Arrowhead on Lake Eufaula,” said Dreadfulwater. “For more rugged riding, you can visit our local wildlife management areas, including Cherokee WMA and Cookson WMA.”
Dreadfulwater encourages readers to visit www.oetra.com to learn more about the diverse trail systems in Oklahoma.
For newcomers, Dreadfulwater believes safety is the No. 1 priority. While it can be very fun and rewarding, it can also be very dangerous, if the rider is not physically and mentally prepared.
“Trail riding is one of the most fun things you can do on horseback, but it is also one of the most dangerous,” said Dreadfulwater. “There are constant variables in your riding conditions, such as wildlife or four wheelers popping up suddenly. Go with experienced riders and horses who know the area you are riding.”