Life as a guide in the Sawtooth Mountains

Campfire Story by Rebekah Cain from Idaho/Arizona.

"Hi, my name is Rebekah and this is my horse Dally! We are going to be your fearless leaders today."

This is how I introduce myself daily. I am a trail guide for Mystic Saddle Ranch. I take people out into the Sawtooth Wilderness on horseback and lead them over bridges, high mountain passes and through pine forests. I have worked for Mystic Saddle Ranch for six years and I have every intention of becoming an outfitter.

My husband and I manage a corral in Stanley, Idaho during the summer season and then relocate ourselves and the horses down to Arizona where we manage a corral during the winter season. But the Idaho wilderness is in our blood and we miss it all winter long.

Being a guide has allowed me to meet many amazing people and every season seems better than the last. I am always learning—learning more about horses, people and myself. My saddle is my office chair and the Sawtooth Mountains are my office.

What was one of your most memorable moments on the trail?

My favorite and most influential trail moments have been when I was pushed out of my comfort zone (usually by my riding partner/ husband) and forced to ride it out. It is in these moments that I have been surprised by what I am really capable of and grown as a rider.

One such moment was coming out of hunting camp a few years back. My husband handed me the pack string that included horses packing wall tent, stove and my elk quarters and head. Going with the "you shot it so you pack it out" mentality, I faced the steepest part of the trail with great trepidation. Knowing that the horses had to lope up the hill in order to keep enough momentum and understanding that the pack horses all needed a consistent speed and watchful eye, I could feel my knees shaking.

So many scary moments on horseback just come down to trusting your horse, keeping your heels down and keeping a level head. That's what I did and the pack string made it through just fine. I breathed a sigh of relief and then inwardly chastised myself for being so afraid. Usually that's how it goes, it's not nearly so scary once it's over and you would never know that you could handle it till you've tried. The more I push myself the better of a rider I become because of the confidence and experienced gained in the saddle.

What trail ride is at the top of your bucket list?

I would love to someday ride the Continental Divide Trail, at least the northern half.

What advice would you give an aspiring guide?

My advice would be similar to the advice given to me throughout the years; keep your heels down, you'll be fine and if you get struck by's just your time to go.

What do you love most about trail riding?

The thing I love the most about trail riding is exploring new country that I've never seen before. In the words of the infamous Gus McCrae, "ain't nothing like riding a fine horse in new country".

A big thank you to Rebekah for sharing her experiences with the community. Show your love by commenting, sharing, and liking her story.

1 Response

allene whalen
allene whalen

October 11, 2015

I’m Sarah’s grandma. I can’t ride anymore, never to the extent you kids do. Thanks so much for sharing your stories and photos. I’ve kept up with Kara Jean a couple years now. She always brightens my day. I’m so glad I discovered your page.

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