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The Ouachita Mountains across western Arkansas are unique in many ways. In addition to running east to west, these mountains are full of amazing places to see and things to do.
The Mountain Harbor Riding Stable, nestled in the Ouachita Mountains and just outside of the National Forest in Mount Ida, contributes to the adventures found along the range. The stable is owned and operated by John and Candy Torbett and their daughter Kayla, who offer an authentic trail ride experience. A guided trail ride involves riding a trained, saddled horse along a trail with a guide leading the horses and one following behind the group.
Mountain Harbor Riding Stable has been a family-owned business for 25 years, with the Torbett family running it for the last eight years. John is often the lead trail guide for guests.
My children and I went to Mountain Harbor to experience the fun. Upon our arrival, some of the horses were already saddled and ready. My children loved seeing a horse the workers were breaking in and meeting the horses they would ride on the trail. Chief, a beautiful strawberry roan horse who is also one-quarter paint horse, is the oldest of the herd. One of the original horses at Mountain Harbor, he stands quiet and calm and allows young hands to pet him and take his reins without fuss.
The kids absolutely loved riding Chief around the stables, unbridled by any fear. Also gentle, the other trail horses are trained to follow each other or a leader. This helped calm me; I was slightly nervous about my children being on unfamiliar animals.
We met Saddie, a light brown horse who is the only female in the herd. We also met Jo, a friendly trail guide with a big smile. She was fabulous with all of us and put me completely at ease, an important trait for someone leading inexperienced people on horseback.
Trail rides here begin in the morning and last about an hour. The trail winds through some of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property, where you can ride through the woods and above Lake Ouachita. It’s an exhilarating way to experience nature and take in some of the beautiful sites deep within the woods. Children must be at least six years of age to join in on the trail rides.
An hour in the saddle is not the only way to enjoy a ride with horses and a breath of fresh air. Families and children of all ages can take a beautiful carriage ride in the mountains. It’s a truly special way to watch wildlife or celebrate a special occasion – no horsemanship required. Carriage rides are offered in the afternoons throughout the year.
Due to the nature of the rides, it’s best if you schedule an appointment. You can visit Mountain Harbor Riding Stable online or call 870-867-3022.
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