May 20, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Horsemen’s Days Return to the Valles Caldera Grande

'The Grande never fails to inspire awe the moment we arrive at the staging area.'

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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Once again, the staff at the Valles Caldera has generously designated three summer days for horsemen to ride in the Grande – the huge concave meadow below Highway 4.  This year, the dates to saddle up will be Saturday, August 4th, September 27th and October 18th.  Due to past rider cooperation, this is the fifth year Valles Caldera has extended this opportunity for equestrians.  The Grande rides are not held in the mountainous equestrian trails of Banco Bonito, and the riding and scenery in the Grande is vastly different. 
These are not massive nose-to-tail trail rides.  On their own, riders form small groups and ride out in any direction their nose takes them.  It is a great opportunity to meet other trail riders, and share a love of horses and the majestic Valles Caldera.  Typically, riders arrive between 8:30 and 9:30am.  Once briefed, the riders are free to take off when ready.  The ride ends at 3pm when all riders return to the trailers. 



The Grande never fails to inspire awe the moment we arrive at the staging area.  It is one of three active calderas in the United States, and provides a rare opportunity to ride down into the bottom of the grassy caldera.  The Grande is a meadow 14 miles wide and 10 miles long surrounded by conifers and aspens covering the hills on all sides. 



This year, two of the dates will be fundraisers for equine organizations:  

August 9th is an open ride at a fee of $20.  Riders should bring their own food, refreshments and stock water.

September 27th benefits The Horse Shelter.  Collected Works Bookstore volunteered to serve as presenting sponsor and has generously agreed to pay the Valles Caldera fee so that 100% of the $125 donation is tax deductible.  Sponsor Blue Window Bistro in Los Alamos, is providing food and refreshments free of charge.  A raffle will be held at the trailers at 3pm through generous donations from Barn Dogs, Mortensen Silver and Saddles, and Desert Wind Saddlery.
October 18th benefits the Rio Grande Peruvian Horse Club with a $30 donation per rider.  Riders should bring their own food, refreshments and stock water.
All of these dates are open to anyone that wishes to ride; however, the VC staff limits the event to 50 horses, so all three dates are first come, first served.  Inevitably, there are always a few last minute changes in plans, so if you are high on the wait list, it is very likely that you will be riding that day. 



The Valles Caldera Preserve has for many years supported weekend equestrian riding at Banco Bonito.  Banco Bonito equestrian trails are open most weekends now through August.  Additionally, Banco Bonito offers camping on some weekends for a small extra fee.  Space for riding and camping at Banco Bonito is limited so reserve early. The riders on August 9th can make a weekend of riding and camp at Banco Bonito Saturday August 9th, to ride again on Sunday through the Banco Bonito trails.  To make reservations for Banco Bonito, please follow this link to the Valles Caldera online reservations



More information on the Grande rides will be forthcoming in the next several weeks.  For more details, or to put names on the rider list for any of these dates, contact Sue Murphy at suemurphy723@earthlink.net or call 505-989-1135.  A heart-felt thanks to all the sponsors for their generous support of The Rio Grande Peruvian Horse Club and The Horse Shelter.

VALLES CALDERA PRESERVE 
COLLECTED WORKS BOOKSTORE 
BLUE WINDOW BISTRO
THE HORSE SHELTER  
THE RIO GRANDE PERUVIAN HORSE CLUB 
BARN DOGS
DESERT WIND SADDLERY  
MORTENSON SILVER AND SADDLES

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