A sleigh ride evokes pictures of people dressed in warm clothing, wrapped up in blankets, big horses trotting through the snow, bells jingling and snow falling gently on the scene.
Perhaps in your picture the people are holding mugs of hot chocolate and smiling at the good time they're having.
Lynne and Perry Lewis, of Rimrock Outfitters, provides a sleigh ride that isn't much different. With the drop of lots of snow on the area, the two have been able to take visitors on some beautiful rides in the area.
The preparation for a ride is minimal, but involves work on the part of the Lewises. In getting the two horses ready, they have a large leather harness for each of them that covers most of the horse's body. It has blinders for their eyes that keeps them on track, and ways to attach them to the sleigh itself.
Pete and Barney, the large Belgian horses that pull the sleigh, have been with the Lewises for about three years. The breed is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds, and their feet are huge - about the size of dinner plates. They are a light chestnut color, or sorrel, and have an even lighter mane and tail. The two horses are quite docile when Lynne and Perry are putting the heavy harnesses on them. However, their different personalities show through when it comes time to put a bit in their mouths. Pete is a bit more stubborn than Barney, and puts up more of a fight than his partner.
Once the Lewises get the horses ready to go, they take them up the road about a half mile, the horses walking behind their pickup, and attach them to the sleigh that is waiting in their field. Their place is located on Echo Basin Road, affording them beautiful views. The sleigh is long, with a bench down the middle, in order to seat about 10 people. Perry sits in front, near the horses, so that he can hold the reins and holler out commands to the horses.
The views, even before the ride begins, are incredible. The Rimrocks are right across the field, which is smooth and white with snow. No tracks, no footprints, nothing mars the beauty of the snow-covered expanse. The sleigh takes the same path through the snow, following the trail that is used by the Rimrock Outfitters all year for their trail rides.
As the ride goes up and down the gentle slopes and valleys, the visitors can see elk, rabbit and coyote tracks through the snow. Off in the distance are snow-covered peaks and mesas, and close by are trees, bushes and stumps, all covered in snow. Perhaps your cheeks and toes get cold, but it's not very noticeable in light of the breathtaking ride.
"I never tire of the views," said Lynne Lewis. She goes on all the sleigh rides, bringing along blankets for the visitors and hot chocolate made up in thermoses.
At the halfway point in the ride, the riders are encouraged to get off the sleigh, make snow angels, drink the hot chocolate and take pictures. It's a good time to take in the views all around and marvel at your surroundings.
The ride back is just as exhilarating as the first part, coupled with a sense of having experienced a wonderful part of Colorado. The snow, the cold, the blue skies and the good company all make it a magical adventure.
Rimrock Outfitters provides sleigh rides for anyone who is interested. They can be found at www.rimrockoutfitters.com or by calling 970-533-7588.