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Derby season is approaching faster than a horse down the backstretch, and that means lots of stories about sleek, glistening Thoroughbreds.
This is not one of those stories, because this is not that kind of riding.
The horses at Little Big Horse Trails in La Grange are sturdy and calm, used to carrying regular-sized people who don’t know how to ride — not minute jockeys with decades spent in a saddle.
In fact, this is a lot like sitting in a recliner.
Little Big Horse Trails, owned by Garnett Morgan, opened in 2001.
Morgan’s family has owned the property for generations, and the commercial endeavor brings in tourists from all over the region.
Morgan and guide Lisa Williams lead the way for riders of all abilities, although most who come to Little Big Horse Trails are inexperienced.
And that’s perfectly fine. Morgan and Williams enjoy getting people out on horseback, especially those who have never been before.
Williams recalls a number of first-time riders who overcame their fears, from grown men to young girls.
A 6-year-old girl once sobbed through the first part of the ride before telling Williams she trusted her horse would take care of her.
A little while later — a typical Little Big Horse ride takes an hour — the girl piped up.
“This is kind of relaxing,” Williams recalls the girl saying.
Those hour-rides through Morgan’s 500 acres are a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The trails are worn, the brooks babbling, the birds singing.
Right now, dogwoods are in bloom along the trails, too.
And keep your eyes open — wildlife abounds in the quiet forest, including a midday deer sighting last week.
Morgan keeps a stable of 25 horses, along with a few chickens and a Chow named Sasha. On arriving, Sasha will be the first to greet you, so it’s worth knowing her name.
Morgan and Williams organize rides of all sizes as long as they have enough horses. For some larger corporate events, they’ve done rides in shifts.
Corporate groups come out and spend the day at Little Big Horse Trails, as do sports teams.
Morgan remembers a college volleyball team that came to ride as a team building event.
“Their legs were so long the stirrups wouldn’t go down far enough,” he said with a laugh.
All riders receive one-on-one instruction on mounting their ride and on how to turn and stop their horse.
There is no rush — riders are given time to get comfortable and stops are made as necessary during the ride.
After the ride, check out the former tobacco barn Morgan converted into a lodge.
Morgan did all the wood and stone work himself. He also carved much of the furniture, including a bed complete with hat and rifle carvings.
Williams said the barn’s outhouse is a visitor favorite, too. It has plumbing, so it’s barely an outhouse, but users do have to pull a bridle to flush.
Rides are offered Monday through Saturday by reservation, making Little Big Horse Trails a great spring break stop.
The farm is located on Ky. 524, about 10 minutes outside La Grange.
For information visit www.littlebighorsetrails.com.