Nineteen Enjoy the Final Horseback Ride of the Season

Kaye McMillan, Jean McColman, John Calhoun, Sue Muckey, Cindy Valancius, Rebecca Williams, Patty Frestadt, Debbie Trapp, Susanne Kooiker, and Joe Valancius

Rebecca Williams

Nineteen members of the SaddleBrooke Ranch Horseback Riding Group headed out west to Marana and the Tucson Mountain Stables for the last ride of the season. The stable is located out west of I-10 in the Picture Rocks area, so the group rode trails winding through stands of saguaros, palo verde, and mesquite trees. The trails are on the property of the White Stallion Dude Ranch, which has been a Tucson icon for 60 years.

One guide for the trail pointed out a just-developing crested saguaro, which is believed to occur due to a genetic mutation that happens in only one in 10,000 saguaros. She pointed out the many mountain ranges in the area, and talked about the sweetness of prickly pear fruits. You need tongs and a sturdy paper bag to handle the fruit, but if you slice it in half, you can scoop out a deliciously sweet inner fruit. I guess that explains why the javelinas love them!

She also talked about how the indigenous people would harvest mesquite pods, drying them, then removing the inner seeds and grinding them into a sort of reddish flour that also has a nice, sweet flavor. This flour makes really delicious tortillas.

Earlier in March the group was able to enjoy a sunset ride through the Saguaro East National Park. It was thrilling to see the beauty of tall stands of saguaros marching across the landscape in the setting sun. The views of the Rincon Mountains were equally magnificent and made us so glad to be in Arizona to enjoy this beautiful scenery on such a fine day.

The group will now be on hiatus until after the summer heat is over in late September or early October. It is interesting to note that many of the horses are sent to Colorado and Montana over the summer to continue to delight guests at stables where the weather is cooler.

If you would be interested in the group’s activities, go to the SaddleBrooke HOA website at and select “Things to do” then “Clubs.” There in the middle column is a link to the Horseback Riding Group. Click on that, and the link you see will take you to a web page about the group’s activities. Over to the right side you can see the “Read News” section for upcoming rides. If you would like to participate, simply click on the link at the bottom left under “Contact Us,” give your name, the ride you want to join, and the time if there is a choice. The secretary, Rebecca Williams, will get back to you with a confirmation and can help with any questions you may have. You can participate as often as you choose. All rides are one hour and at a walk, just to enjoy the scenery.