January 15, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Summer Lookout: Valles Caldera Horse Rides

"Horses are normally restricted to the Equestrian Banco Bonito mountain trail. This summer, there will be four opportunities to ride other mountain trails and the Grande."

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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Known locally as the old Baca Property near Jemez Springs, Valles Caldera is internationally famous as one of the three active calderas in the United States. The magma chamber still seethes three miles below these idyllic grasslands.

The Valle Grande is the mystical grassy concave meadow almost 14 miles long and 14 miles wide. The eruptions that formed the calderas occurred roughly 1.2 million years ago. The volcanic field spewed almost 500 cubic miles of ash and lava, and then sank back in on itself to form the concave bowls of Valles Caldera; the largest being Valle Grande. The eruption was so powerful that ash from the eruption may have reached as far as Texas and Kansas.

Horses are normally restricted to the Equestrian Banco Bonito mountain trail. This summer, there will be four opportunities to ride other mountain trails and the Grande. Space is limited – only 50 horses per day are permitted, so make your plans and reserve early.

These rides are special because horsemen value the freedom to ride at their own pace and with their own friends rather than as a single large group. Two dates have been earmarked benefitting local equestrian non-profits; and all four of the following dates are open to everyone:

Coming through the fence Sue Murphy, Catherine Hapta, Gayle Forehand and Beth Longanecker. Photo by Sandra Burnett.

Saturday, June 15: Valle Grande or mountain trails – your pick. Ride to benefit The Horse Shelter. $125 per person, including catering by Whole Hog Café. Payment can be sent by check to The Horse Shelter or paid via PayPal. For more info, email info@thehorseshelter.org.

Sunday, July 14: Valle Grande or mountain trails (not Banco Bonito or The Grande). $20 per person – no extra activities. Bring your own food and water for you and your horses.

Saturday, August 10: Valle Grande or mountain trails (not Banco Bonito or the Grande) – ride to benefit Horses For Heroes. $100 per person. Food and entertainment planned.

Sunday, September 15: Valle Grande or mountain trails – your pick. $20 per person – no extra activities. Bring your own food and water for you and your horses.

For more information or to reserve your spot, please email suemurphy723@earthlink.net.

If you are hauling a long distance, overnight bed and breakfast and horse facilities can be arranged in Santa Fe. Please email me for this, as well. 

If you would like to ride two days, Banco Bonito, an entirely different equestrian trail, is open most  weekends. There is limited overnight stabling and camping at Banco Bonito. To reserve a second day
in the Preserve, or overnight stays at Banco Bonito register online.

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