OURAY – The Ouray Livery Stables horseback riding operation has moved from its old location at the historic stable on Main Street, Ouray, to the outskirts of town on Old School Road. The move is just in time for the family-owned business’s 40th anniversary.
“We spent 39 years in that spot in Ouray,” said owner Sherry Petersen. “I grew up in that barn. I’ve been there since I was a little kid.” Petersen’s parents, Jeralyn and Howard Linscott, bought the livery business in 1968 from Wayne Flowers.
Last August, Petersen received a notice from the facility’s owners that they had decided not to renew the lease. The notice initiated a search for a suitable site, and after a few dead ends, Petersen received an offer from some folks who had heard of her plight through their church.
“It was not real easy to find a spot to move to; we just really lucked out when these people came and offered us their place,” she said.
After months of work readying the site, the new Ouray Livery Stables opens this week at 12 Old School Road, east of U.S. Hwy. 550 across from the KOA turnoff. They plan to continue taking people for one-hour, two-hour, half-day, and full-day trail rides on all their old trails: Portland, Baldy, Cutler, Dexter, Oak Creek, and Horsethief.
“We’re a little bit nervous,” Petersen said. “It’s always hard when you’re at a new place, and with the tourism this year, we just don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll just have to find out like everybody else.”
Just because the horseback riding operation is gone, however, doesn’t mean there’ll be no more horses in Ouray. The stable’s owners, Lezah and Tim Saunders, plan to operate historical sightseeing carriage rides out of the facility. They have two Belgian draft horses, a few mules, a carriage, and a six-seat surrey – a light four-wheeled carriage – that they will renovate and lease out for special occasions such as weddings.
Lezah Saunders’s family history runs strong in Ouray as well; her grandfather, Sam Fellin, was a mule packer to the mines, and along with his brother donated the land that is now known as Fellin Park. Fellin worked out of one of the other stables in Ouray, and bought the current stable facility in the 1940s. Her family has owned the stable since, leasing it to other operators.
The stable was originally built in 1883 and, according to Jeralyn Linscott, has up until now been in continuous operation as a livery.
“All the miners who wanted to rent a horse to ride over to Telluride and Silverton would come there,” she said. Over the years the Linscotts hired local youngsters to help out with the horses, either for a little money or just for fun, possibly in exchange for a free ride. One of those youngsters was current Ouray High School Principal Nick Schafer.
“We hired Nick Schafer when he was just a young buck,” Linscott said. “He used to help Howard on hunting trips, pack trips, things like that.”
Linscott said that the market for overnight trips is gone, with tourists favoring the one- and two-hour rides. Another thing that has gone by the wayside are the chuckwagon dinners the family used to host at the Old Potato Patch, up toward the Portland Mine.
“That was real popular; we used to have that for many years,” she said.
What hasn’t gone by the wayside, however, are the return customers. “We’ve taken people from all over the world; people who came to us as children have brought their children and even their grandchildren,” Linscott said. “We’ve met lots and lots of interesting folks over the years. There’s a thousand million stories that a person could tell you about the people who came here.”