Over the five years that I have been Writing Horseback, the most frequently asked question I receive has got to be “what are your most memorable horseback rides?” This question is typically followed by “what are your worst horseback rides?” Today I’d like to share my five memorable meals on the trail.
In celebrating five years of Writing Horseback, I present to you five memorable meals riding horseback around the world.
Five memorable meals on horseback
If you love luxury horseback riding vacations, Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana
takes the cake or should I say creme brulee? My introduction to Triple Creek Ranch was an all-women’s multi-day horseback riding vacation affectionately known as Klicks for Chicks. This 100 kilometer endurance ride is the most luxurious trail ride I have ever experienced and Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest offers some of the most scenic horseback riding in the world.
While most of our meals were served in the restaurant at Triple Creek Ranch. One day long ride had us riding among deer and elk in Montana’s Bitterroot forest. We rode to an old hunting lodging on the property and were greeted with warming fire pits, hot chocolate and steaming hot coffee. The horses were tied up and we were treated to a gourmet lunch inside the lodge. The chef had prepared homemade soups, fresh baked breads, salads, quiche, fruit platters and creme brulee for dessert. To date, this has been my most memorable meal while riding horseback.
California’s Alisal Ranch
Horseback riding in California’s Santa Ynez Valley is like stepping back in time with John Wayne or Ronald Reagan riding next to you. The Alisal Ranch and Resort has been welcoming guests to California since 1946. Not much has changed at this dude ranch and that’s as it should be.
Designed for all levels of equestrians, the Western Breakfast horseback ride is a favorite of all ages. I love the anticipation of getting to the stables early in the morning. The horses are ready to go on a trail ride through giant sycamores and ancient oak trees with limbs draped in Spanish moss. Wranglers tie up the horses while cowgirls and cowboys head to historic Adobe Camp, the smell of bacon hangs in the morning air. A crackling campfire draws guests to a singing cowboy strumming on acoustic guitar. Kids giggle as cowboys lasso unsuspecting buckaroos standing in line for second helpings at the buffet table. What is it about the outdoors that makes flapjacks, hot off the grill, taste so darn good?
Colorado’s High Lonesome Ranch
Horseback riding on a ranch the size of a national park has its advantages; no two trails are alike. From cattle drives to picnic lunches served under the shade of a grove of trees, High Lonesome Ranch is a family-friendly dude ranch in Western, Colorado with fine rustic dining.
Linda Sue Doden, or “Aunt Linda” as she is known at the ranch, has been churning out homemade muffins, addictive organic granola and fresh baked desserts since time began (more or less.) Linda and her kitchen crew prepare potato, fruit and green salads to accompany the barbequed hot dogs and hamburgers, along with fresh baked cookies of all types for the lunch meals served to ranch guests riding horseback on the trail. I have fond memories of riding along the Western slope of the Colorado Rockies into the beautiful Forshay Valley, followed by a picnic lunch in a grassy meadow.
Memorable Meal in Southern France
To be fair, this memorable meal in the South of France was not eaten on the trail while horseback riding. This dinner was served at La Terrasse Hotel Restaurant in France’s Dordogne Valley. This charming castle in the village of Meyronne served as an overnight resting place for me, as well as five equestrians trail riding in Dordogne Valley.
The rider’s boots gave them away as they entered the dining room in the old castle. For me, this trip to Southern France was not a horseback riding holiday. I had to live vicariously and listened excitedly as the accomplished equestrians from the United States, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium shared their riding adventures on a horseback riding vacation in “La Dordogne.”
This memorable meal in Southern France was my first proper introduction to the French cheese plate. Prior to the locally-sourced cheese plate I enjoyed farm-raised beef, handmade ravioli stuffed with foie gras, accompanied by fresh spring vegetables grown in the village of Meyronne and several glasses of local French wine to wash it all down. This place served as a wonderful introduction to the Midi-Pyrenees region. I can’t wait to return for a horseback riding vacation in Southern France.
Riding horseback in Saratoga, California
From the vineyards of France, we travel to my home state of California and the vineyards of Santa Cruz mountains. I had read about a “Sips and Saddles” horseback riding package offered by The Tolls House Hotel in Los Gatos, followed by a horseback riding holiday in Saratoga at Garod Farms.
After a lovely day of riding horseback through the hills of Saratoga, California – only a 20 minute ride from Silicon Valley – I dismounted my horse and strolled to the Cooper-Garrod tasting room to pick up a glass of red wine to accompany my picnic lunch under the shade of a giant oak tree.
Cooper-Garrod Winery had partnered with The Picnic Guild to have a lunch basket of homemade goodies waiting for me to enjoy. From a Venetian chicken salad to eggplant camponata and smoked trout rilettes, I nibbled my way through lunch and ended with dreamy chocolate walnut squares of chewy goodness. What a trip!
What have been your most memorable meals riding horseback?
Article and photos by Equine Writer Nancy D. Brown