Friday, April 12, 2013

Horseback Riding in Gatlinburg

Road-Tripping with Greg: Wednesday Morning
When we started planning this trip to Gatlinburg, the one thing I really wanted to try is horseback riding. I've only been on a horse a few times, never since losing weight. I thought it would be a unique way to see the Smoky Mountains National Park.

The horses were beautiful and oh-so-friendly at . I talk to animals (and plants too, if I'm being honest), and they seemed to understand what I was saying. I think one even laughed at one of my jokes. Hey, at least the horses think I'm funny. 

We were at Smoky Mountains Riding Stables, in Gatlinburg. The horse I rode was pretty sweet, but Greg's horse was very big and recalcitrant. I didn't know until after our ride, but Greg was petrified the entire time. I have to say, he was pretty brave to keep going even though he was so scared.

I am smiling because my butt hadn't started hurting yet.

I was only a little nervous, and that was mostly when we were close to the edge of a steep drop-off. My horse was obviously in far better shape than me, because she hardly broke a sweat over the hour of climbing up and down mountain trails. The scenery was fantastic.

The horses mostly walked in a line, but Greg's horse kept falling behind. I got lots of pictures of Greg as we rode. Yup. I was able to take pictures as I rode the horse.

A brave man on his noble steed.

I tried really hard to get a picture of myself riding the horse. This is the best I could do.

Most of my view on the trip was like this. Beautiful, peaceful, and chilly.

Here's part of the Yelp Review I did of this particular stable.

My husband and I wanted to go into the National Park, and thought horseback riding would be the perfect way. We did an hour-long ride for $30 pp. They don't take reservations in the spring, but we only had to wait about an hour, and we were able to go shopping at some artisan shops down the road while we waited. I took my camera in my pocket up on the horse, and was able to get some decent shots of the beautiful scenery and the streams.

Overall, I really liked the experience, and my horse was obviously well-trained. The guide had some good advice, though it was really hard to hear him because my husband and I were at the back. I do wish the guide would've given us more information about the area and what we were seeing. The scenery and the calm of the park were great, and this was one of the highlights of my trip. I was amazed at how the horses climbed up and down those mountain trails, and even through the streams.

The horses were very friendly and generally obedient, except for the one my husband had. Probably because he's a man, they gave him a large horse that was likely too big for him. His horse wouldn't keep up with the group and the guide kept yelling back, "Kick her harder!" The horse was pretty pokey. My husband is also kind of a nervous guy, and I think the horse could sense that he was having panic attacks. I do not think I'll ever get my husband on a horse again.

Just a warning--the saddle soreness is worse than you'd expect. I do wish they'd have had a slightly shorter ride for beginners. I was waddling more than walking for most of the next two days, and Greg was up all night in pain. I think the pharmacist at the Walgreens got a kick out of my desperate plea for some sort of cream to put on our sore buttocks. 

Our big smiles belie the soreness on our buttocks.

 There is a lot of tourist junk in Gatlinburg. I would say that the ratio is probably 5:1 (junk to really cool things to see, do, and buy). This trip is worth your time. A horseback ride is such a nice way to see the Smokey Mountains. I will definitely go again next time we're in the area, though my husband will keep his feet planted firmly on the ground.

Since this might be our last experience on a horse (especially for Greg) I made sure to buy us t-shirts. Greg's is the green one, mine is pink, and the muscle pain cream was for our rear ends.

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