By Patty Wilber
Last weekend we went to Rio Rancho Verde, a horse camp, in Scottsdale, Arizona with some friends. The facility was all it was cracked up to be, and unlike our trip to the Cold Bore Ranch, last year, the weather was goldilocks (just right).
We drove through snowy rain and thick fog on the way through Gallup, NM and Payson, AZ so were pretty happy to drop down into warmer and drier!
The facility is situated between the Tonto National Forest and the 30,000 acre McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve. The Tonto is right out their back gate and the McDowell is just up the street, so there is more than enough riding to last someone weeks!
We set up camp with full hook-ups for the Shuert and Kingsbury living quarters trailers and just electricity (so we could plug in our little space heater) for our weekender. The spots were easy to pull into and the whole place was beautifully maintained. The horse pens were fantastic with automatic waterers that our old guy, Cometa, LOVED. I have never seen him drink so often!
After we got set up, we rode out into the Tonto for 3.7 miles. We avoided the teddy bear cholla and caught a gorgeous sunset!
Friday, four of us rode to the Rio Verde. We got verbal directions from Joe, one of the owners, and Bill turned on his Onyx Hunt to help us verify. Joe told us it would be a five to six hour ride, and he was spot on. We went out the back gate, down an arroyo to a really big arroyo and took that all the way to the river. The big arroyo is heavily used by off-road vehicles on the weekends. We rode it on a Friday and it was still pretty busy. Fortunately, they are really loud and it was a wide canyon in most places, so there was plenty of room for us to get out of the way. Also, the drivers were respectful of the horses and the horses were darn mellow most of the time!
We ate lunch at the Rio Verde and rode back on the uplands. I found some pretty rose quartz up there! Bill’s Onyx Map program helped us pick the right Forest Service Roads to get back, but we also had a good landmark to ride towards in Granite Mountain.
We were getting pretty close to the end of the day when we spied other riders, and lo and behold! It was the Kingsburys! They had skipped the long ride to the river, so it was a treat to meet them for the last few miles.
On Saturday we decided to go into the Preserve. The advantages of the Preserve included no motorized vehicles, a nice map, and really well marked trails. We were given some tips by Joe and using our map, navigated a nice loop with some interesting features. This area had a fair number of cyclists and hikers. All were respectful of the animals and more than one took our pictures.
The saguaros were fantastical.
The last day, the Shuerts and Wilbers tried to make a short loop in the Tonto but we misunderstood the directions and kept going up the canyons that ended in fences and had to backtrack a lot, so we did an out and back. It was nice to do a ride before we had to head to NM, so the last day felt like part of the adventure rather than just a long slog home.
We got to the house about 8 pm and this was the first year since we started our January Arizona weekends that we did not come home to snow. In fact, the weather all week has been great! The better to get Gino, Gette and Luna ready for the New Mexico Buckskin Horse Association all-breed training show on Sunday in Bosque Farms!
Our crew for the show will have six riders and seven equine, including Patty S. and Zima, who were on the Arizona jaunt.