The local saddle club hosted a trail ride this last Saturday starting out on a foggy, misty day. My husband and I belong to the saddle club that sponsors this annual event – before you ask, no I do not ride horses at all but go to the monthly meetings and happen to be the club secretary this year. The club members all pitch in to help with this annual event how ever they can, even us non riders.
The trail ride takes more work than you might think, a lot of it before the ride and some of it even months ahead. Here are a few of things that have to be done before the riders even show up….rope off the main street so people won’t ride their horses into peoples yards, and yes they have done this in the past, haul picnic tables borrowed from the small town out to the pasture where the lunch will be held. A porta-potty has to be rented and hauled down to the lunch spot in the pasture. The metal panels need to be loaded up, hauled down and set up for the horses to be tied up at noon. A horse drinking tank plus the big water tank trailer needs to be taken down to the pasture and another horse drinking tank needs to be set up at the starting point of the ride and filled with water.Permission needs to be gotten from all the land owners for the ride to take place across their property – mostly pastures along the river. Cooks or persons to cook the food – plates, cups, plastic utensils, etc. to be purchased. Advertising to be taken care of, some months in advance. We give out a lot of door prizes so they need to be collect from area merchants. I am sure there are more things but it does take some organization to pull off.
As you can see a lot of pre-trail ride stuff takes place. The day of the ride I help with morning registration and serving the noon lunch. All riders are required to sign a waver and pay their fee before the ride starts. Basically the wavers say – if I get hurt I will not sue the saddle club. We hate to have the signed wavers but in this world of everyone suing everyone else we are trying to protect the club and members from that. After all, riding horses can be dangerous and as riders, they know that sometimes things happen. The man in this photo went off his horse when they were coming up out of a draw or ditch before noon. The horse reared up a little and K fell off and hit his shoulder and back. At noon he was hurting and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t have broken or cracked ribs but haven’t heard yet. This couple are members of the club and are experienced riders so things happen even to the experienced riders occasionally.We serve our noon lunch in a pasture about half way through the ride. The pasture grass where we will be eating is mowed before the ride and everything set up. The club has been doing this for quite a few years so everyone knows what to do, where things go so it all runs pretty smoothly.There is a huge burr oak tree in the pasture and the tables and serving line were set up under it. Most years we need the tree for shade but this time it did protect everyone a little from the mist that was coming down off and on all day. Here is a photo of the horses being tied up at noon. They set up 3 panels in a triangle shape and several sets of these for the riders to tie up over the noon break.The members decided the night before the ride that since it was supposed to be a cool day for the ride they had a bonfire going at the noon break to warm up the riders. The temperatures hovered around 50 and with the mist it was chilly.
There were older adults on the ride and little kids so was a nice mix. I think the finally tally was 78 riders. Some quit at noon but most finished the entire ride.
This last photo is of my husband John on his horse Jessie. Jessie sure wanted to get going after lunch as she hates to be last but sorry to say she was one of the last ones to leave. Members lead the ride and bring up the rear and John was one of ones at the rear. The rear guys have to make sure no one gets left behind and to shut all the gates of the pastures as cows are still in them until after harvest. It would not be good if cattle got out due to our trail ride.
The ride started at 9 am and finished about 4:30 pm so I am sure there were some tired riders and horses. We get a lot of the same riders each year so it must be fun for them or they wouldn’t be back.