For this week’s Radio Field Trip, we’re meeting some animals and taking a ride.
(Editor's note: we highly reccomend listening to this story.)
It’s been a beautiful drive, past Lake Winnipesaukee and up along a winding path through the mountains of Moultonborough.
Through the open wooden doors of a long green barn, I can see rows of stalls filled with horses of all different breeds and colors.
This is Riding in the Clouds, a place for horseback riding of all kinds -- trail rides, pony rides, carriage rides. It’s located on the same property as Castle in the Clouds, a popular historic estate that’s open to the public.
Trail guide Michaela Rines is grooming Fred, a magnificent draft horse.
“Honestly my favorite part isn’t even riding,” Michaela says. “It’s being around the horses.”
Fred stands at least 7 feet tall -- well above my shoulder. His coat is a creamy tan, and he has a white stripe down the center of his nose.
Michaela brushes Fred’s tail. She’s been a guide here for six years.
“Grooming them is one of my favorite things to do,” she says. “They have a calming thing about them. They’re nice to be around.”
The barn does have a zen-like calming effect. I walk around to say hello to all the different horses. They have names like Bumblebee, Thumper and Lucky.
Maximus, a 5-year-old Belgian draft horse, is almost 3,000 pounds. He’s so massive his legs stretch above my head.
Maximus is a rescue horse, as are many of the other 20 or so horses here that regularly take people out for rides.
Bobby Perry and his family run Riding in the Clouds.
“It gives you that connection with nature that we’re missing in today’s society,” says Bobby. “It keeps you grounded and puts you back where you’re supposed to be, I think.”
I ask Bobby if he ever sees people on their screens while they ride.
“I don’t allow it, no,” he says. “I yell at them ‘hey, that horse isn’t equipped with Bluetooth.’”
Michaela has been getting Fred, the tan horse, ready for my ride.
It’s been a while since I’ve done this so Bobby gives me a refresher on how to mount the horse.
Bobby hops on his horse, Jerry, and we set off. First, we go through the woods where the leaves are just beginning to show their colors, and then up along a still-green pasture.
As we ride along at an easy pace, both horses occasionally try to sneak a snack of grass; a gentle tug on the reigns gets them moving again.
After a while, we reach the top of a hill that overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee. The water shimmers -- lined by trees just starting to turn with bright yellows and reds. It’s gorgeous. And I realize I’m on horseback in the mountains of New Hampshire -- plaid jacket and all. A good place to be on an autumn morning.
When we get back to the barn and dismount, it’s time to give the horses their treats. Winston, the barn’s residential goat, hovers nearby.
“He’s the cleanup crew,” Bobby says. “He also works security.”
I hold my hand out with a treat for Fred.
“He does accept gratuities,” Bobby says.