Though the calendar maintains that it's still the 21st century, the experienced cowfolk at MD Ranch take visitors back to the Wild West with horsemanship and equestrian knowledge that's been perfected across the centuries. Joining them is a herd of well-trained horses, who itch to take riders on vigorous romps across the Sonoran Desert landscapes of San Tan Mountain Regional Park. The only outfitters in the mountains, the ranch's seasoned guides lead experienced or first-time riders along desert trails, trotting past stately cacti on all-day and sunset excursions or galloping in search of far-off coyote choruses during intense ranch rides. The herd contains a wide range of horse personalities–from horses that are safe for even the most inexperienced riders to those with enough go for seasoned cowboys. On-site trainers work with steeds and riders alike, teaching students of all ages the techniques of English and Western riding as well as basic horsemanship and equine care skills.
Charming Pony Parties elevates children’s birthday celebrations to fairy-tale status by inviting a few very special guests—ponies. Rather than making them run on horse treadmills, the staffers position ponies around a carousel or hand-lead each ride to let both children and ponies enjoy the open air. Whether the party is held at a park, at home, or on the center’s spacious ranch, the ponies dress for the occasion by donning unicorn horns, flowers, and colored hair spray, making it easy to match any princess, pirate, cowboy, or knight theme a child desires. Meanwhile, extras such as bounce castles and snow-cone machines add even more excitement to the party.
Polar Ice Gilbert gives bladed feet space to roam through regular public-skate sessions and provides class programs endorsed by the U.S. Figure Skating Association. A knowledgeable team of instructors can help advance the ice-skimming skills of all experience levels, including novices, aspiring Olympians, and ice fishermen in search of a greener commute. Beginning skaters start with introductory Learn to Skate classes, while more seasoned skaters can hone individual aspects of their talents such as jumps and spins through focused specialty classes.
The dunes aren’t going to ride themselves. That’s why GoFast Rental puts off-roaders behind the wheels of buggies such as the RZR XP 4 900 EPS that seats up to four. For those trundling dirt paths, they offer similar buggies as well as quads. With dirt and sand covered, the only thing left is the wet stuff. To crest waves, they slip patrons into V-drive wakeboarding boats and jet skis.
Danya Wright began riding horses at 6 years old as part of Arizona's 4-H program, bonding quickly with an arabian mustang pony named Shawnee. After more than 35 years of riding, Wright still draws upon her formative early experiences as she instructs student riders through the S.T.A.R.S. of Horsemanship program.
At Triple L Stables in Gilbert, Wright leads students in English and Western riding while focusing on communication between horses and riders. She encourages many of her students to ride bareback, a technique that allows horses to pick up subtle cues that saddles block, such as riders bouncing to the rhythm of the Lone Ranger theme.
Wright boasts impeccable credentials, holding a degree in equine science and a certification from the American Riding Instructors Association. She's also a registered equestrian coach for the Special Olympics and keeps her first-aid certification up to date to keep students and horses safe.
Rachel Jansen Jones, the owner and permanent resident at Crossroads Farm, has worn many hats over the course of her career. She served as president of the Arizona Hunter Jumper Association for two terms, and she currently coaches the ASU equestrian team. Since 1998, she’s headed up Crossroads Farm’s USHJA-certified trainers, composed entirely of instructors with at least 15 years of experience at her facility—and often with more years in the industry or as a horse’s pen pal. Students of all skill levels can benefit from the trainers' expertise in the farm’s lesson program, which starts beginners out with the basics of horsemanship and safety and sees them through more advanced skills such as cantering and jumping.
Lauded by the Phoenix New Times as the best indoor skate park in town, Xtreme Air Jump 'N Skate captures 30,000 square feet of adrenaline-tinged family fun and transforms it into a high-flying jump park and a custom-designed skate park.The park's 54 connected trampolines, velcro wall, and Slamball courts provide ample entertainment for those without boards, and skateboarders and scooters can launch into the foam pit and rip the rails and ramps at the 10,000-square-foot park while attentive staff monitor them closely. Near the skate park, the Little Xtremers park pumps up inflatable castles where children aged 5 and younger can perform bouncing renditions of Hamlet. Parents can await playing progeny at the Grind Cafe, watch their kids on the large screen viewing TV, or just relax in the Parents' Lounge.