When we were there to do this story, it was perfect for a sleigh ride. We were at the Hitchin' Post Stables just SE of Flagstaff on a snowy and cold day just turning dark. Load up in the barn on a TWO-horse open sleigh and learn how to "smooch" a horse and make him go...

Roger Hartman, the owner of Hitchin' Post Stables, is explaining how to get the 2 horses pulling the sleigh to go. "I'm gonna' whisper their names to you 'cause then we're all going to call their names together and then we're all gonna' smooch loudly and that's how they go." The crowd on the sleigh yells the horse's names.

"Isaac! Jacob!" Everybody puckers up and emits a loud smooching sound. Sure enough, Isaac and Jacob start out.

Roger Hartman's evening sleigh ride and dinner leaves the main barn and slides out into the darkening evening of snowy Coconino National Forest. It takes about 30 minutes of singing and sleigh bells jingling to get to the cowboy camp...which is just about right to get your nose frosted but not get the other end frozen to the seat...

"People come out here from all over parts of the country to see the horses and hear the bells on the horses," Roger says. "It's just something about the winter in the snow and the crisp night air and people get covered up with those warm lap robes and come up here. Sit around a warm fire and listen to cowboy songs."

Inside the long cowboy tent some of the cowboys are serving steaks and barbecued chicken. Tom Weathers, a local entertainer, is singing: "The cattle are prowlin', the coyotes are howling, out under the western sky..." Roger likes to say his place is 5 miles and 100 years from Flagstaff...

"It puts 'em back in that certain era. No vehicles in sight up here. Puts 'em back in the late 1800's where it seemed to be a slower pace of life. They leave that city behind. they come out here for a few hours and enjoy the peace and serenity that the country can provide."

It may only look like a cowboy tent out in the snow but it's a warm, cozy place in a brittle cold night with good food and cowboy songs 5 miles and 100 years away from Flagstaff.



The Hitchin' Post Stables are in Flagstaff and about 4 miles east of I-17 on Lake Mary Road. Besides the sleigh ride dinners, there are sleigh rides without dinner and a variety of horseback rides when there isn't a lot of snow on the ground.

Price for the dinner sleigh ride is $40.00 per person. Choice of steak, chicken or vegetarian. You're out about 2 hours.

For info: 520-774-1719