HEADLESS HORSEWOMAN — Emily Aronson rides around as the Headless Horseman during the haunted pony rides at Rosebud Stables. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
ARCADE — At Rosebud Stables in Arcade, Halloween is all about getting both horses and riders dressed up and strutting their stuff, with a little spooktacular fun thrown in for good measure. For the second year in a row, Rosebud is all decked out for haunted pony rides on weekends throughout October, with the stables’ team of horses on hand to give children a festive ride around the ring.
Owner Charlene Aronson said that her pony rides offer a dual purpose: to give younger children a chance to have some Halloween fun and to introduce new riders to the world of horsemanship.
“A lot of people don’t get exposed to horses, otherwise,” Aronson said. “And some of the Halloween haunted houses, hayrides and things around the area, are really, truly scary. This is something kids can do that’s just fun.”
The horses, nine of which are prepared to take kids around the rink each weekend, can be dressed up to match their handlers or the child’s own costume, from a collection of outfits and accessories Aronson has on hand.
“We can match them by size and level,” she explained, adding that most of her horses are of the small variety.
When children arrive, they can watch the horses get dressed and learn about the process, as well as listen to a quick lesson on grooming and safety. Aronson said that, if the children have riding experience, they will sometimes be allowed to take horses around the course unescorted, but she has handlers leading the horses around the rink, as a general rule.
BOIL, BOIL, TOIL AND TROUBLE — A group of witches fly overhead as riders travel the ring.
The ride around the arena takes approximately 20 minutes, during which riders will pass by a variety of Halloween-themed decorations and through obstacles, including motion-sensored ghouls and ghosties, spiderwebs and a graveyard, among other displays.
Aronson said that the obstacles are helpful in teaching the horses to behave appropriately around potentially-startling elements and that they help more experienced riders learn how to navigate those, as well.
RIDE, IF YOU DARE — Rosebud Stables’ roadside sign invites potential Halloween riders to experience the spook-tacular arena.
“The decorations stay up all month, so our [regular lessons] can use them, too. It’s more interesting, that way. They have to maneuver around the obstacles, so it teaches them steering and how to pay attention,” she said. “It’s almost like how mounted police train their horses. It’s behavior modification, to learn how to work with a rider and in unexpected situations.”
At the end of the ride, the horses go “bobbing for apples,” and the kids are invited to enter coloring and costume contests. This year’s costume contest will be organized on Facebook.
“That way, the families can go online and ‘like’ their favorite photo and we can tally the votes that way,” Aronson explained. “It’s fun and easy for everybody, that way.”
In addition to the Spooktacular arena during the Halloween season, Rosebud hosts “horse rides with Santa” during the Christmas season, with proceeds’ benefiting local food banks.
“We try to do a lot of that kind of stuff, to get people involved, “Aronson said.
The facility also includes restrooms and a lounge that parents can rent for kids’ birthday parties, as well as a riding academy, sleep-away camps and clinics.
More information on Rosebud Stable’s additional amenities can be found at www. rosebudstables.com or by calling 863-4770. The stable is located at 11520 Bixby Hill Road in Arcade.