How to Get a Horse Fix on Poncha Pass

I’ve been horse-crazy since I was a kid. With long blonde hair, I pretended to be a Palomino. And my bedroom was full of plastic horse figurines. (They were collectibles, ya know.)

When we went to our Camp as kids, my sisters and I would gallop stick horses through the pines, whinnying and tossing our manes. We’d even snort, paw the ground and rear up on our hind legs. I took my horse fix any way I could get it!

That’s why it was such a gift when my sister asked me to go horseback riding during a recent family reunion. We drove up to Poncha Pass near Salida CO and pulled in at Granite Mountain Outfitters. A nice lady named Sue is the owner.

It’s been years since I’ve ridden. In fact, the last time it was mosquito season and we herded cows through the sage and all over the ranch. I couldn’t sit down for days and kept swatting at flies.

Anyway, we told them about our riding experience and Lisa was paired with a quarter horse named LeRoy. I ended up with Houdini…

…a mule.

Now before you go and get all judgmental, you should know that Houdini is one talented critter, fully capable of opening any gate. In fact, we were told that Houdini recently opened seven gates and let out so many cattle, it took hours to round them all up.

So I swung into the saddle and sat proudly upon my mule.

Poncha Pass CO horseback ride

And off we went with our personable guide, Andrew. Just us and the great outdoors! We rode through meadows with wildflowers, tall stands of aspen and an old logging camp. No stress and no noise.

Granite Mountain Outfitters Poncha Pass CO

Except for my mule. He liked to groan. He did it trudging up the hills and he did it when “nature called”. No braying. No snorting. Just groaning.

But he was sure-footed as a goat.

When we got to the mountain top Andrew took pictures of us from every angle.

Granite Mountain Outfitters guide Poncha Pass CO

Every angle.

Laura Benjamin Poncha Pass horseback ride

Then Lisa’s horse took a selfie. (That’s her line – not mine.)


On our way down there was more groaning. This time it was from me.

“Um, Andrew? How much longer till we’re back at the ranch?”

Bones in my bottom were competing for attention with the spectacular scenery. The late afternoon sun lit up a few deer butts on a distant hill like spotlights in the sage.

Everything glowed. I wanted to bottle it.


Then all at once our two and a half hours were over. I dismounted my mighty steed and dropped to the ground with legs quivering like jello.

It was one of the most memorable rides of my life. The good folks at Granite Mountain Outfitters delivered a little piece of heaven that day.

I got my horse fix on a mule.

And I tossed my mane a little as we drove away.