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Workout Wednesday: Horseback Riding

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My guide's horse enjoys the view

Searching for a way to get out of the city recently, I stumbled upon Baldwin Lake Stables in Big Bear Lake, a farm that offers horseback rides by the hour. Noting that the rides are for any level (I am pretty much a non-level, having only ridden a horse a few times when I was a kid), I decided to take my chances and head up there to see what they had to offer.

I pulled up the dusty road and parked next to the farm's petting zoo - a fenced off area with goats, chickens, and what appeared to be some sort of a ram. I watched a child chase a chicken for a few minutes (always amusing), then sauntered up to the ranch to meet my guide.

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She first introduced me to my horse, then instructed me on how to mount him. Easy enough - I figured I was in for a smooth little ride, viewing the great outdoors and taking some nice pictures for my MySpace page to demonstrate how outdoorsy and adventurous I am.

But never doubt the power of a wild beast between your legs. The very first thing that my crotchety old horse did was freak the hell out and turn around to go back to the barn after I had been on him for a grand total of one minute.

We were off to a rocky start. I was a little nervous, but per my guide's advice, I checked my feelings at the door so as not to allow for my horse to pick up on them.

Another five minutes or so and I had calmed down, as had my four-legged friend.

For a while after, it was then smooth sailing. We walked up a beautiful trail, the horse doing it's following-the-leader thing so all I had to do was jerk it's head occasionally to get it to stop snacking on the grass.

About an hour in, my inner thighs were starting to chafe, so I hollered up to my guide to ask what I should do.

"It's probably because you're just sitting all your weight on the horse and not moving at all," she said.

Touché. I was definitely allowing the horse to do the walking, moving, adjusting, planning, and exercising.

"Try sitting straighter, and use your legs and your butt to keep yourself a little lifted off the seat," she called back to me.

Well, five minutes of using my legs and butt to keep myself lifted turned out to be all the workout I needed. From there on out, I lifted for about five minutes, then sat for two, then lifted for five, sat for two. It was essentially squatting intervals in motion.

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I got back to the ranch exactly two hours after I had left, as promised, sore but happy and feeling as though I had made some real progress insofar as befriending my horse goes.

Definitely a fun, easy way to get out of the city for the day, get outdoors, and be active.

Photo by Jessica for LAist

Overall Workout: Moderate
Hobby-Developing Potential: Could be high if you have a lot of money and time, but generally pretty low
Next-Day Pain: Minimal
Cost: $40 per hour for one- or two-hour rides

Baldwin Lake Stables
46475 Pioneertown Road
Big Bear City, CA 92314
(909) 585-6482