Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fun Ride at Steep Rock Preserve

I originally wrote this for the New England Morgan Horse Association newsletter. But since I am so far behind on blogging, I'll post it here. Stay tuned for pictures, and blogs on Crooked River 30-mile Competitive Trail Ride and the Connecticut Morgan Horse Show.

On Sunday, June 3rd, several members of the Connecticut Morgan Horse Association (CMHA) met at Steep Rock Preserve in Washington, Connecticut for a pleasure trail ride. Esther and Jim Fiddes of Bethel brought their horses LBF Hickory Smoke and Quietude Mackenzie. Megan Thompson of Mansfield Depot was riding Mic Mac Amulet and Stacey Stearns from Storrs brought CBMF Secret Crush. Ann Raynor of Kent also brought two of her Haflingers and a friend to join the trail riding fun.

CMHA is hosting a club ride at Steep Rock on Saturday, June 16th and this was a pre-ride to check trails and the area, as well as enjoy a beautiful trail riding day!

Steep Rock is extremely accommodating to equestrians. There is a field used exclusively for horse trailer parking, and there is a riding ring adjacent to the field. Once everyone was tacked up, we headed back down the driveway and across the bridge over the Shepaug River. We then headed onto a woods trail and followed this trail up a hill to the summit. The Steep Rock Association sums up the view from the summit best, “The most popular hike is to the Steep Rock summit, a moderately strenuous climb which offers breathtaking views of the river and the dramatic contour of the Clam Shell, directly below.”

We took the same trail back down from the summit, and continued on further into the preserve. Crossing the Shepaug River is fairly technical. Only one of the fords was open. The river is wide, and fairly shallow near the banks. In the middle we reached a deep spot, and with the rocks on the bottom and a strong current, the horses had to think a little and trust their riders. My horse, Secret, was unfamiliar with technical water crossings – this was her first water crossing besides small streams! I kept her behind the other three Morgans, all experienced trail horses and let her watch where they were crossing the river. When the strong current hit her in the deeper section of the river (up past her knees, however my boots did not get wet), she hurried through a little faster. Other than splashing Jim and LBF Hickory Smoke quite a bit, the river crossing was uneventful for Secret!

After we crossed the river, we rode on old carriage trails up through the woods. At one point, high up in the hills, we had a spectacular view of the river below. We did several loops around the preserve, for a total of 8 miles. We primarily walked, taking our time to enjoy our horses and the location, it took us two and a half hours to complete the ride. The weather was perfect, the horses all behaved wonderfully, and you really could not ask for a lovelier place to ride than Steep Rock. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Preserve, you will not be disappointed. For more information visit: http://steeprockassoc.org/

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