Ponderosa Stables: Time Travel on a Horse
“Everyday something out of the ordinary happens,” said Katherine Lloyd, manager of Ponderosa Stables. Such events as a Red Tailed Hawk flying in for a brief visit, or a customer asking if they could bring a Spider Monkey with them to go riding, nearly anything is possible at this place that seems to belong to another time. Just for the record, the monkey was not allowed to go horse back riding.
If shades of the authentic Southwest come to mind, when horses were the main means of transportation, and the land was pristine, Ponderosa Stables, and the adjacent concern South Mountain Stables, are visible reminders of what life might have been like on any number of Arizona ranches.
One has to keep in mind that you are close to central Phoenix. However, with South Mountain immediately behind the ranch, and the look of the stables themselves, it is hard to believe that you have not traveled in a time machine. Sure, there are cell phones, computers and visible signs of civilization; there is something amazingly tranquil about the place. It is like a world unto itself.
It is also a world of hard work. “Horses are a 24/7 type job,” said Lloyd, and she should know. Having grown up with horses since the age of five, they are not just a past time; they are a passion. “There are people who don’t understand the hard work,” said Lloyd regarding a place that looks as if it takes good care of itself on its own. She added, “When you are doing what you love, it is your life.” However, her original career path took her far away from stables, chickens and horses.
Coming to the Ponderosa stables from a marketing and graphic design background, she started first as a volunteer in 1984. By 1998 her volunteerism turned professional. It is an existence she summarizes as being “a pretty cool life, to do this as a living.”
Having something to do all of the time, the full time staff of nine do not lack things to do. The fact that they all live on site may explain the family like relationship everyone has with each other.
“We are so fortunate,” said Lloyd, who adds, “To live and work in the same place; it is good for us and the horses.” Apparently it is for all involved. Having taken 20,000 people on horseback rides from the Stables, located on Central Avenue at the entrance to South Mountain Park to the T-Bone Steak House on 19th Avenue from 1993 to 2005, the future looks bright. “Business has been good,” said Lloyd.
Arriving on the heels of a positive fiscal future, plans are being made for some major capital improvements. South Mountain Stables, which is part of the Ponderosa Stables, is going to witness major new construction soon, which arrives just in time for a new service they are offering.
Boarding services for horses at South Mountain Stables is planned be available later this month. The fee will vary based on needs, services required, equipment and the cost of hay. Price points start at $350 per month per horse. They are also making some changes to the landscape that will keep it more in line with the type of foliage indigenous to the area.
Just being around horses is a great thing, however, if you are new to it, keep a few things in mind to ensure you have the best possible experience. That means understanding and trusting the staff. “We want you to have a safe time,” said Lloyd.
The first rule, perhaps the most important, is following the directions of staff on a ride. “We know our horses better than you do,” said Lloyd. This is not arrogance, it’s a statement of truth. They know the temperament of their animals, so do not assume you know more than they. Believe it or not, that has been an issue with some “I know it all” types.
Another thing to keep in mind: horses are not mechanical devices. One cannot get on one and go into “auto pilot”. Although large, they are surprisingly sensitive and sometime react to things people may not notice. The cardinal rule with these amazing animals is “Never let your attention lapse,” said Lloyd.
Being that we are in a desert, remember to bring water, or least plan to purchase it, which is available at the Stables. Another important preparation is to wear proper clothing. Riding entails passing cactus, debris, dust and assorted other elements that virtually demand long pants. Flip flops are out of the question. Being in the sun means wearing sunscreen, so be preparee. Having a hat of some kind is a wise move. Just make sure you have one that will remain securely on your head. There are rules to follow, many strictly enforced, but the staff of Ponderosa Stables wants to ensure that you and the rest of your party have a pleasant and safe time.
“We do love our Park, and we are protective of our park,” said Lloyd. “You gain ownership after you have been here this long.”
10215 South Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85042