Horseplay helps build trail skills at Silver Saddle Ranch |

Horseplay helps build trail skills at Silver Saddle Ranch

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Tim Mayes attempts to deliver the newspaper into the Silver Saddle Ranch mailbox during the horse trials on Saturday. Mayes failed the portion of the test because the newspaper fell onto the ground.

Saturday morning, Tracy Mayes was traversing bridges, dragging tires, picking up mail, crossing streams and closing gates at the Silver Saddle Ranch.

Not a hard set of tasks, unless you’re doing them on horseback.

Mayes, along with her husband, Tim, and her horse, LA Stepper, were among the more than 60 participants in the first annual trail trial, sponsored by the Carson City Equestrian Alliance.

The trial is not a race, said organizer Karen McCarthy, but a chance for riders of all abilities to sharpen their skills on a variety of obstacles that are routinely encountered on trail rides.

“It’s a test to see if the horse and rider can calmly and safely negotiate normal everyday obstacles,” said McCarthy.

Riders were broken into two categories based on skill: novice class and open class. Both groups attempted the same obstacles, but open-class riders were given additional tasks or more specific instructions on tasks.

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Riders negotiated 10 total obstacles on the three-mile course, including picking up a newspaper and placing it in a mailbox, crossing a bridge, negotiating a sand pit and a log, riding downhill and pulling a tire.

“Our objective is to educate the riders to become better trail riders by testing their skills at real obstacles,” said Beth Scott, CCEA president.

Riders were judged at every obstacle, receiving a score between 0 and 10 for skill and proficiency at completing the obstacle.

Mayes, from north of Reno, chose to participate to help prepare her horse for the endurance rides they participate in throughout the year.

“I want to get him the experience for the endurance rides. It’s long distance riding that can be 25 miles, 50 miles or 100 miles and we encounter some of these things on those rides,” said Mayes.

McCarthy said part of the reason for the event was to showcase the Silver Saddle Ranch and show the public what is available to them.

“We are taking advantage of the great facilities we have at the ranch, that are open to the public,” said McCarthy.

The 700 acres that make up the Silver Saddle Ranch, located on Carson River Road east of Carson City, is owned by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to the public for recreational use.

It was acquired in a land swap in 1997 and is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking activities.

“We just want to make it so that different groups and people can use it and enjoy it,” said Stan Zuber, district law enforcement ranger for the Carson City field office.

McCarthy said the group hoped to raise awareness and have a little fun.

“We just hope that everyone has a happy and safe ride and enjoys the company of their horse and the other riders,” said McCarthy.

– Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.