In The Spotlight: Western Trails Riding Stables

Last Updated on Jun 6, 2016 at 3:15pm | Tourism & Recreation

"In The Spotlight" is a regular feature of The Lake-Front magazine and is being reprinted here in its entirety with permission. This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue.
For the past 47 years, three generations of the Schenk family have introduced visitors and locals alike to the wonder of horseback riding in Garrett County. Western Trails Riding Stables was founded in 1969 by Fredlock Schenk and his son Larry, who operated a dairy and horse farm on their property located on Mayhew Inn Road. The two began offering horseback riding on the trails of their property and the business grew to include horse breeding and boarding and training horses for shows. The property even housed a campsite at one time.
Today, Larry’s son Gene Schenk carries on the family tradition. Western Trails offers horseback rides to riders of every age and ability. Guests can chose from 30, 60 or 90 minute tours that cover four scenic miles of Garrett County terrain with open fields, wooded mountainside and views of Deep Creek Lake. “It’s not unusual to see a variety of wildlife on the trail,” says Gene. “We’ve seen wild turkey, deer and even bear on our trail rides,” he adds. Excursions can be geared for all ages and children aged six and under are welcome to ride on their parents lap for no extra charge. They also offer pony rides for the little ones. In addition, they offer private and semi-private trail rides and the stable can be rented for your next birthday party or other family event.
Gene also breeds horses and has 55 trained horses available for his guests. You’ll find a variety of horses at Western Trail including Appaloosas, Paints, Quarter Horses, Belgians, Pintos and draft horses. Why so many? According to Gene, different breeds come in different sizes and temperaments so they can be paired to an individual rider, despite their physical capability or level of experience. All of their horses are professionally trained for two years before they are ready to lead guests. All rides are led by experienced guides, including area youth that have grown up spending their summers at Western Trails with their horses. Gene also offers riding lessons and horse training. 
“We cater to all levels of riders,” says Erika Graham, Stable Manager. “Many of our first time clients have never been on a horse before so it’s fun to share that experience with them.”
Western Trails Riding Stable also offers hayrides for groups. With this fun option, their guide will take your group on a hayride, then you can stay and enjoy a bonfire afterwards. “Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drink,” explains Gene. “This is a great activity for groups or families looking for something different they can all do together,” he adds.
Gene is proud to carry on the family tradition and you may see his three children, aged 16, 13, and 12 in the barn or on the trail. “We have guests that come back year after year. We have customers that first came here in the 70’s, then brought their children and now their grandchildren to ride with us,” says Gene.
Western Trails is open daily for trail rides from 10 AM to 5 PM Memorial Day through Labor Day without reservations. During the rest of the year, the facility is open year round every Saturday & Sunday and weekdays by appointment.
For more information visit their website at, call 301-387-6155 or 240-321- 0589 or like them on Facebook at Western Trails, LLC. Be sure to plan a visit soon…you’ll have a great opportunity to meet their family, ride their horses and see a unique perspective on Garrett County.