I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been on a sleigh ride. Thirty-three years of living in a mountain resort. Vacations at five Austrian Alps ski resorts. Numerous family vacations at the Balsams Grand Resort. Many years spent helping to publicize and promote Waterville Valley’s winter sleigh rides. And, yet, I’ve never stepped foot in a horse drawn sleigh.
I rectified this sad situation on the first day of 2014 when my daughter, Jenna, and I booked a sleigh ride in Waterville Valley.
We went to the Town Square Condos front desk to pay for our tickets. Make sure you bring cash, as they don’t accept credit cards. Rides cost $15 for ages 13 & older, $10 for ages 2-12 and free for a child under 2 sitting on your lap.
Jenna is a horse lover and wanted to arrive early so she could hang out with the two beautiful Percheron draft horses. The horses are owned by Wes and Kathy Avery of Thornton who use the huge work horses as environmentally-friendly skidders in their logging operation. As we boarded the sleigh, Kathy explained that the horses can pull twice their body weight and the average weight of a Percheron is 2,600 pounds.
Surprisingly, Jenna and I were the only passengers on the 2 p.m. sleigh ride. It was a bitingly cold day, so maybe people were worried about the freezing temps. Jenna and I were bundled up and brought a fleece blanket from home. Wes and Kathy keep the sleigh benches covered in blankets, so Jenna and I each grabbed a heavy blanket to throw over our legs.
We took off from the Town Square courtyard with Wes at the reins and Kathy sitting in the sleigh with us. The horses pull the heavy wooden wagon around the ice arena and onto the golf course practice fairway for a short distance before crossing Village Road and heading into the woods. There were a couple more road crossings followed by a longer stretch on the golf course fairway. Wes stopped the horses for a short rest at the base of the BBTS Bag Jump at Snows Mountain, then we headed back to the Town Square.
It was a beautiful, quiet and peaceful ride. At one point, as the horses maneuvered the sleigh through the woods, I was transported back to another era when horses were the primary mode of transportation in isolated forested areas like Waterville Valley.
Learn more about Waterville Valley Sleigh Rides or call 603-236-8175.