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Our First Judged Trail Ride & Campin' Trip (Sept. 2006)

by Denise Conroy

THE JUDGED RIDE: Overall, we thought the ride was very fun. I expected nicer trails so that was a slight disappointment. Also we thought the ride was 10-12 miles and it turned out to be more like 6. The obstacles were fairly close together on some scrubby trails and sometimes the horses/riders would get backed up. I think the horses had a harder time standing and waiting their turn, than they did doing the obstacle. lol. The instructions and the map was very confusing, so for those serious competitors (like my daughter!) it was frustrating. But you had to realize this was a fundraiser and low key. The people were very friendly and we had the opportunity many times along the trail to explain a "curly horse" - it was fun. Here is one of the most challenging obstacles, each one was 10 points max and less if you had to try a few times.

The Car Wash

Chy went through fine with a little coaxing. 10 points for Chy! Reese did the sponges okay but we couldn't get through the streamers. I even dismounted and tried to encourage him thru it...but to no avail. 6 points for Reese! We will work on that at home. ;-)


The Tins:

This obstacle consisted of a group of trees or shrubs with pie tins hanging all over the branches. The wind was blowing so they would make noise. OOooo scary, to many horses! The horses were required to walk thru them and stand for a few seconds. Chy & Reese sailed thru it, no problem!

10 points each!


The Gate:

Chy actually opened and shut this himself. I swear, Chy had most of the judges chuckling. Many of the judges asked what kind of horses we had...most mistaking Reese for a draft or morgan cross. It was fun to talk to them. Reese sailed through this one too.

The Mail box:

You had to open the mailbox, get a flyer out it, and close it back up. Plus walk across the little bridge to get there. It was fun to see how the others horses & owners handled this...Chy got nervous when I walked Reese away to a little patch of grass while we waited..he still got his points though! Silly guy. 10 points each!

The Umbrellas:

Tracy said this reminded her of Willy Wanka and the Chocolate factory. This was startling for the horse at first. They would snort but cautiously walked through. It was a hoot! There was approx. 20 umbrellas or more, all different colors and sizes. 10 points each!

The Water Bell:

Looks simple, but it was really tricky. There is a drop off right where the post is and the post has a bell on the end. The rider has to ring the bell. There were 4 horses in this group ahead of us and none of them accomplished this task. Chy stepped right in and rang the bell with his nose! Although the judge thought that was awfully cute, the RIDER had to do it. lol. Tracy & Chy got 10 points AND a "well done" by the judge. Reese was happy to play in the water and the task was simple for him as well although he wasn't quite as charming as Chy was about it. lol. 10 points for Reese. ;-)

Some of the other obstacles consisted of:

Bridge walk, 10 points each for Chy & Reese.

Man hole, a piece of plywood on the ground with a painted black circle that they had to walk on, Chy & Reese each got 6 & 7 points...this was a hard one!

Ring toss, 10 points each. We had to use a wooded sword that they gave us and pick off a brass ring that was on several tree branches in an area and transfer that ring to another branch that had an orange streamer on it. 10 points for Reese and Chy.

Rubber ball, this was the big rubber ball that your horse can push around. Actually, we never did this one because there was about 10 horses lined up to do it and it took forever. It was the last obstacle and our horses were beat. No points for the boys. :-(

Garbage pick up. You had to get a plastic bag (from somewhere?) and pick up 5 pieces of garbage along the trail. This was the one that frustrated us, because there was no instruction and wefound out about it at the end of the ride. No points for the boys. ;-(

Treat: There was a Tupperware bucket on a tree that had treats in it. You got 10 points if you got out a treat and gave it to your horse. We had NO idea it counted toward your total and we don't give our horses treats so we passed it. No points for the boys. :-(

Safety check. You had to have 5 items on you that showed you were a safe trail rider. ie hoof pick, helmet, flashlight, water, heeled shoes etc. We both got 10 points, yay!

Steep hill, you got 10 points if you could negotiate down the hill safely and with good communication with your horse. Chy and Reese, 10 points!

Pole Pattern: pivet in a square, then trot over poles and trot over a jump. The only problem with this is that it was SO tight, by the time I got Reese in a trot, 1/2 the course was over. lol. Score? Reese 6 points and Chy another "BEST SO FAR" from the judge and a perfect 10. Blah, Blah...Blah..this is getting old! Just Kidding!

Total possible points: 150

Final Tally on our horses:

Chy- Boy: 127 and Reese 107.

GREAT FUN was had by all and the weather was perfect. I probably wont' ever travel that far again, especially TO the big city but it an awesome learning experience and really pushed my ability to haul the horses through all sorts of crazy conditions. ;-)

We completed the ride at about 2:00, had a bit to eat and chatted with folks and relaxed. But to be honest, Tracy and I were both feeling an urge to move on and not stay the nite. People were leaving and the trails were just OK, nothing fantastic and we had no interest in doing them again. About that time, we met a man named Karl Newman. I believe Karl was God-sent as he steered us to a new adventure that made this weekend an experience we wouldn't soon forget. When Karl found out we were from the Upper Peninsula said, "You came ALL the way down HERE, JUST for this??" He had been north many times and was shocked to hear we would leave such beautiful horse country trails to come to the city to ride. (we were questioning that same thing about this time, but it WAS for a good cause and there are no judged rides near us) He mentioned a place in Vanderbuilt called Elk Hill / Pigeon river which was about 3 hours back north and right on our way home, sort of. I had heard of this campground but not first hand. In fact, I had hoped to go there before winter hit, so I asked for directions and more details.

And so began the rest of our page two to hear the rest of the story.....



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