Written by Janet Juroch-BCC Staff Writer
Video footage by Janet Juroch
Snuggled under a blanket and listening to sleigh bells ringing delights romantics or makes a fun family adventure. A team of draft horses pull a sleigh to elk waiting for a feeding of hay along the snowy route. Wagon riders are treated to a hot drink back at the warm lodge. A Dutch Oven dinner following some sleigh rides can be reserved to complete the day. Idaho Sleigh Rides brings the adventure to life while creating good memories and photo opportunities in picturesque Garden Valley, Idaho.
Idaho Sleigh Rides is owned and operated by Darl Allred and Allred’s Adventures. Family owned and operated, Darl has a team of black and white draft horses that pull the sleighs with runners attached to slide over the snow. These horses know what to do following four basic commands from Darl. They don’t seem to mind the trips, which can be as many as eight a day for one team. Darl commented, “I call them my little cows,” adding, “and doing the sleigh rides keeps them from getting lazy over the winter.” Just don’t tell the horses they are really being exercised…or that they look like a Holstein cow.
Cisco and Pancho, now over 12 years old, are the original draft team and have been doing sleigh rides for seven years in Garden Valley. A six year old horse, Ruckus has been added to the team. He is learning “the ropes” of pulling a sleigh from his seasoned compadres. “Spotted draft horses are unique since there are only a few breeders in the northwest producing them,” according to Darl. The horses work in the summer doing trail rides, also. The teams are used to the public and can be seen at many events and festivals. They have even been to the Rose Bowl Parade in the past.
A first time ride for a young couple from Nampa was pure enjoyment in their faces as the wagon approached the elk waiting for hay. “We have never seen elk this close,” stated Jesse Walker. Feeding flakes of hay to the elk is always a highlight of the 40 minute sleigh ride. The chances for great photos come when getting close to feed the cows and babies. Sometimes there are bulls around but more often they stay in the nearby hills during the day.
The draft team knows the trail to follow. The cold can make them frisky and there was a bit of the “horse play” with each other in a slight show of dominance. “This is so fun,” claimed Hailey Johnson as she watched the team play. If one is lagging behind or getting too playful, all he Darl needs to do is call the horse by name and tell it to “step up” and they focus again. Darl laughs, “They know I am watching them and they definitely know their names.”
Idaho Sleigh Rides will be having a contest soon on the radio and Facebook page of the 101.9 The Bull radio station in Boise. This promotion will be for a Dutch Oven Dinner after a sleigh ride and includes a stay at the Walk on the Wild Side Bed & Breakfast located on the Middlefork of the Payette River in Garden Valley.
For more information on these sleigh rides, check out Idaho Sleigh Rides on Facebook or go to www.idahosleighrides.com or call 208-462-3416 for reservations. Whether with a big group or a nice romantic ride for two, Idaho Sleigh Rides can help. Open seven days a week. Call to book a ride.
Photo Credits: Janet Juroch (with thanks to Idaho Sleigh Rides for a wonderful trip!)