PONY POWER: Horses roaming free? It may seem like just a calendar photograph-type fantasy in these modern times, but there are places where ponies have the run of the land. A major one happens to be in Shingletown, not far from Redding, at the Wild Horse Sanctuary. Wrangler Dianne Nelson saved some 80 wild horses back in the late '70s, horses slated to be rounded up by the U. S. Forest Service. Now hundreds of horses and burros call the 5,000-acre sanctuary home. And, yep, they indeed have the run of the rustic setting. But humans can visit, too, to see the animals in action and take in a few trail rides along the way. Those trail rides are reserved specifically for the warmer months, meaning they generally start up around the middle of spring. As they will again, this year, when Wild Horse Sanctuary opens up for trail rides on Saturday, May 4.
WILD HORSE TRAILS: The rides begin at the sanctuary and are either led by Ms. Nelson or a volunteer, Then trails are followed, but trails created not by humans by the sanctuaries horses. The purpose of the outing? To spot the sanctuary's wild denizens as they frolic among the manzanita, oak, and pine trees.
MULTIPLE TO-DOS: Beyond trail rides, Wild Horse offers other special events throughout the summer months. But don't tarry if spending a day among free ponies has been on your bucket list; the last ride of the season clip-clops out into the brush on Columbus Day Weekend 2013.
LEVELS AND INFO: When signing up there are a few must-dos, like figuring out at what level you ride. Here's your starting point, buckaroo.