Saddle Up!

   Family friendly fun and sharing a love for horses is what it’s all about at the Little Valley Riders Club, located on Route 353 in Little Valley, NY.  Since its creation, the not-for-profit club has welcomed horse enthusiasts of all ages to come and participate in their activities, events, and all-around camaraderie.  
   Started in 1952, many of the original founders’ families are still a part of the organization today. The club adheres to its goal of promoting horsemanship and family fun, and currently has approximately 40 adult members (with many more children who are encouraged to take part in all the club activities). Their inclusion of children through special events and the availability of the playground on the premises shows their dedication to a family atmosphere.
   July brings two big events to the club’s grounds in Little Valley, including the annual Trail Ride ‘n Learn, slated for July 12-14. This weekend-long event invites riders to camp out Friday and Saturday night, and boasts plenty of events and activities for everyone – including demos such as barrel racing, and plenty of equine-related vendors will set up shop for your browsing pleasure.
   The club dubs this event as “a weekend for everyone - especially beginner horse riders – and it is very family friendly.”
   Whether you are a seasoned rider or have never ridden before, the Little Valley Riders Club encourages you to come out to the Trail Ride ‘n Learn.
   The other major event that the club will be hosting in July is Extreme Cowboy, a series that spans throughout the year.  The idea behind the series is to offer all riders - new and advanced, young and old - the opportunity to participate and show off their skills while being judged. There are many different classes riders can enter, and you can enter as many classes as you’d like, for a fee of $20 per class. Each event features different obstacles and is really prized as an event to try new things and learn how to handle different scenarios.
   Melinda, the club’s secretary, explained that the event is great for newer riders because everyone is so encouraging, and it really is intended as a learning event. While riders are judged and graded on a points system, it’s more about the experience gained rather than the points.  “With so many different classes, even inexperienced or young riders have a chance to do well and receive a prize,” she said.
   The event finishes with an awards banquet and prizes, and results are posted on the club’s website (littlevalleyridersclub.webs.com).  The next Extreme Cowboy event is scheduled for July 21.
   To close out the summer, the Little Valley Riders Club will host their annual Labor Day Trail Ride Aug. 30-2.  And if you happened to miss the Extreme Cowboy event in July, the club heads into fall with another Extreme Cowboy scheduled for Sept. 8.
   One of the things that make the club so successful is the partnering with The Crosspatch Horse Ranch, also located in Little Valley. Owners Jim and Dolly Little maintain the state trails, and the Little Valley Riders Club has direct access to those trails, as the Pat McGee Trail is located at the back of the club’s property. This old railroad bed turned recreation trail is perfect for children, families, new riders, buggies, stagecoaches, and even a leisurely walk.
   In addition to being located close to The Crosspatch, the Little Valley Riders Club sits within 15 minutes of many other attractions, including Seneca Allegany Casino, Coaches Inn Restaurant, Mager Mountain Alpaca Farm, the Amish community, and downtown Ellicottville.  On the grounds of the Little Valley Riders Club you’ll find a clubhouse that houses a small store in case you find that you have forgotten anything when you visit.
   The Little Valley Riders Club is always looking for and welcoming new members. If you might be interested in joining, simply attend one of the upcoming events to see what they are all about.  Membership fees are $40 for a single membership or $60 for a family membership.  For additional info, head to littlevalleyridersclub.webs.com or search out Little Valley Riders Club on Facebook.
 
THE CROSSPATCH HORSE RANCH
 
Since 1981 The Crosspatch ranch in Little Valley has been making the ranch lifestyle accessible for families. Owners Jim and Dolly Little have been in the horse business for 40 years, and their aim is to help people fulfill their dreams of learning to ride horses and experience what living on a ranch is really like. With the longhorn cattle, horses, Chuckwagon events, and scenery, you are sure to get the full ranch experience with a trip to The Crosspatch.
   The Crosspatch offers many services in addition to their popular events - horse boarding, training, horse shoeing, and sometimes they even have horses for sale. They offer a variety of different guided trail rides customizable by length of the ride and extras such as the Romantic Firefly ride or a dinner ride to a local restaurant. If you aren’t familiar with horses or how to ride, the skilled instructors at The Crosspatch can give you hands-on lessons on proper technique and care for horses.
   In addition to the above, The Crosspatch offers wagon rides, and sleigh rides during the winter months.
   Looking for a gift for someone who likes horses?  They also boast “Cowboy Creations” - beautiful pieces of furniture and art made by owner Jim Little. Gift certificates are also available.  They can be purchased directly through The Crosspatch website (www.thecrosspatch.com).
   The Crosspatch takes part in many events, such as the Trailride for St. Jude’s that took place on May 4 of this year.  They work closely with the Little Valley Riders Club and participate in many of the same events, such as the Memorial Day Trailride held May 24-27, and the Labor Day Trailride coming up at the end of August.
   Winter doesn’t slow them down, as they offer sleigh rides throughout the winter season, and they hold beading classes on Wednesdays.  (Check their website for winter classes, start dates, fees, etc.)
   One of the best ways The Crosspatch introduces people to ranch living is through their Chuckwagon Supper and Show. People can experience the mealtimes of cattle drivers by participating in this event, which features a meal cooked entirely on an open fire. Roast Beef, salt potatoes, sourdough biscuits, Wild West beans, candied carrots, and campfire dessert are all prepared over the fire just like it was back in the 1800s. The ambiance and surroundings make you feel as if you were immersed in a real cowboy meal. Following the supper, participants are entertained by a western music family show that portrays information about the history of cattle drives and tall tales.
   This year’s Chuckwagon Supper and Show will take place on Saturday, July 20, and anyone can take part. Tickets are $25; kids under 8 eat free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Contact The Crosspatch at 716-983-6313, and visit their website at www.thecrosspatch.com for more information.
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