You are here: NEWSLETTERS > TROT News January 2001Trail Riders Of Today
Potluck Dinner and Annual Meeting
OK, you sweet tooth people, listen up! For several years now we've had a surplus of desserts. You'll notice I've really changed around the number of people scheduled to bring each category of food. Please, we need main dishes! Let's see those meat balls! That fried chicken! Lasagna and meatloaf! Spaghetti, casserole, buffalo wings! (Didn't know buffalo could fly, did you?)
And come join old friends and meet new ones! Bring your friends! Bring a new member! Meet your county's representatives and fellow riders, share ideas, make plans to ride new trails and revisit old ones. And come with an appetite!! TROT folks sure can cook!
I'll see you there! Save me some chicken! Suzanne
The TROT Annual Meeting is a joint PotLuck and Business gathering of TROT members. While the agenda is somewhat informal, yet we do have several things to accomplish besides tasting all those wonderful dishes.
As the PotLuck dishes are set out, the County Coordinators and riders gather around different tables to introduce themselves and voice concerns or good news trail tales.
After everyone has filled their plate once, President Gale Monahan will address everyone with any special concerns or news that pertain to all present. Treasurer Anne Bennof may have a report, and perhaps Membership person Lois Ward will be able to state our membership numbers to date. The SAR Team will say a few words as to their activities, and we may hear from the Mapping/GPS folks on their plans.
The really important item on the evening's agenda (no, it is not dessert) is the nomination and election of new Board Members. TROT Board members serve at least 2 years (I think that's the expected term). Their job is to meet once each month along with any other interested TROT members to discuss the business of the organization. Fundraisers like the Judged Pleasure Ride, projects like the GPS mapping, requests from other charitable organizations for support, legislation that concerns trails and trail riders (like the Sunday Hunting issue that periodically arises), Fairs and Expos to exhibit at, and most importantly, trails that are being encroached on by development, or public parks that need to remember to include horseback riders.
Our current Board members include:
Gale Monahan, President
Tim McGrath, Vice President
Anne Bennof, Treasurer
Jack Monahan, Secretary
Pat Merson, and
Board Members are nominated and voted on by the TROT members present at this Annual Meeting. At the next scheduled Board Meeting, the Board Members elect officers from among themselves. And no, we don't use punch ballots for any of this.
The meetings are often held at Jack and Gale's house in Highland, but there's no reason the location can't be changed to suit the people who need to be there.
And the final item of the Annual Meeting (well, yes, along with dessert) is a guest speaker of presentation of some sort. For this year the special presentation has yet to be announced, so you'll just have to come find out yourself.
And my challenge to you: Bring a new member to the PotLuck! If Lois will help me out on this, I'd like to make a list of who brings a friend or two (or five!) to join TROT that evening at the PotLuck. I'll announce in the next newsletter how many new people came, and I will personally give you a $50 gift certificate to the tack store of your choice. So, I'll be seeing you and all your riding buddies at the PotLuck!
Happy Trails! Suzanne
Horse play is called a 'stealth industry'
(excerpted from the Baltimore Sun, Dec. 11, 2000)
Horsing around is big business in Howard County, and a larger industry than once thought, according to a report by the county's Economic Development Authority.
The equine industry takes in $140 million annually in the county, supporting and expanding traditional agricultural businesses, the report says. Forming an industry well-suited to suburban areas, equestrian activities are expected to continue to thrive in the county, an analyst said.
"It's almost a stealth industry in Howard County," said Ginger S. Myers, agricultural development specialist with the authority. "There are more horses in the county now than the day the county became a county."
Based on a survey sent to more than 1,500 people who owned horses or were involved in the equine industry a year ago, the report's results showed the following:
"For every human support source, there's a correlating support industry for horses—dentistry, veterinary medicine, transportation, insurance, advertising, publishing, clothing, therapeutic massage," said Crystal Brumme, secretary for the Maryland Horse Council and editor of the Equiery.
The largest threat is on t that Howard County has not addressed—the lack of trails and space for residents to enjoy their animals recreationally.
Malcolm Commer Jr., Livestock economist at the University of Maryland, said an effort to build an equestrian facility in Howard in recent years failed, but Montgomery Co. and Baltimore Co. are moving forward with plans for facilities. "If Howard Co. as an entity does not address this issue, it's going to lose because people are going to take their horses elsewhere," he added.
The report recommends that the county develop a trail network, maintain open space and agreements that support equestrian evens and market equine events and services to promote tourism.
A Christmas Rescue
About 11:00 a.m., Christmas Day, Barbara and I left our home on River Road, Sykesville, Howard Co., MD, to have Christmas dinner with my family in Pennsylvania. Before we left, I put out extra hay for our 2 horses, Tony (Tony Lama), a 22 year old Appaloosa gelding, and Mac (High Style McCrew), a 22 year old Quarter horse gelding. Both horses are field kept, with access to the barn and their stalls.
About 9:30 pm, Christmas evening, we returned home to find Mac was down, in the field near the barn, unable to get up on the frozen and somewhat icy ground. It was obvious he had been down for some time. He was exhausted from trying to get up.
We tried for about 1˝ hours to warm him and get him on his feet, but without success. I decided that I needed some professional help. Although I myself am a recently retired Baltimore City Police Homicide Detective of nearly 40 years of service, I have never heard of calling 911 in Baltimore for this type of situation. Being desperate, I figured it was worth trying.
I called Howard County 911, explained my problem, and they dispatched Police Officer Jason Lanowich and Corporal Randy Courson. They arrived and took complete control of the situation. Fire Fighters William Buell and Dan Fitchett of the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department and Alan Schwartz of the Days End Farm Horse Rescue also arrived. With the expertise of Mr. Schwartz, he guided us all as a team and we finally got Mac back up on his feet. After some rubdown and a warm blanket, we got him into his stall.
Although exhausted, Mac ate some of his Equine Senior, laced with Bute, some orchard hay, and some warm water Barbara had heated for him.
On the following day, Christopher Melluso, DVM, of Sykesville, responded to my call and gave Mac a total going over. Mac did have a selling in the left rear leg that he had been laying on, along with some dirt embedded in the skin. Dr. Melluso advised that after a few days of medications and rest, Mac should be good as new.
I later learned that about 1:30 pm that Christmas day, a neighbor saw Mac lying where I later found him. My neighbor thought nothing of it as Mac loves to roll in the fields. Another neighbor who had been walking his dog about 9:00 pm had left a message on my phone that my horse appeared to be having trouble getting up. With all this I can only surmise that Mac had been down nearly 13 hours when we finally got him on his feet at 2:30 am Tuesday morning. It doesn't leave a good feeling that your friend of 18 years was lying helpless for that period of time.
I just had to write this letter of appreciation to those who helped save my horse, and express the sincere deep feelings we have. Thank You!
Earl R. Kratsch
I recently attended a ride; we used a newly opened multi-use trail. It was a very nice trail with bridges over the busy roads. It is a blacktop trail without a parallel trail for horse use. Most of the people we met were friendly, smiling and waving as we went by. I don't think it will stay that way if the riders don't remember that they should remove their horse deposits (road apples, horse hockey, manure). They need to remember the trail is a multi-use trail (hikers, bikers, walkers, small children, etc.). Not everyone appreciates that manure happens. People love to see the horses, but they don't want to be dodging piles of manure on their outings. If this happens enough, we may lose access to this trail and others connected to it. It only takes a few moments to remove the manure from the blacktop. My friends and I tried to remove most of the manure from the trail as we made our way back to the trailers. At one point we met some boys who live near the trail and came over with a shovel to clean the board walk area. Please again, we share this trail with others. Take the time to remove or we may be banned from it.
And in Anne Arundel County. . .
Riders spurred to action by shortage of local trails
by Laura Cadiz, SUN STAFF, Published on Sunday, October 15, 2000, The Baltimore Sun
Philip Dibben used to ride his horses from his Pasadena home about a mile to Bodkin Creek across open fields. More recently, he has had to truck his horses to Prince George's, Carroll or Montgomery counties to find trails because those he once used have been developed.
"The trails that we have ridden for years have been disappearing," he said. The Pasadena Horse and Pony Association, of which Dibben is vice president, is working to change that.
In response to a growing need for public horse-riding areas, the group is working on a volunteer effort to develop horse trails around the Lake Shore Athletic Complex. The group won a $9,900 grant from the Maryland Department of Transportation to help create about four miles of hiking and horse trails around the perimeter of the Pasadena complex.
The volunteers have completed part of the project, which includes clearing debris from abandoned trails in the area and creating a trail that extends to Jacobsville Park.
Alison Asti, the group's trails coordinator, said the trails are necessary because there are few places nearby for horse riders to use. She said many riders have had to seek permission from private landowners to ride on their property. "I think there is a need for the trails in light of how many people in the Pasadena area have horses and have to drive to Howard County or Baltimore County ... or drive hours away to find a place to ride," she said.
The group has finished part of the first phase of the project on its own. More than 50 volunteers cleaned garbage and debris from abandoned trails in the northwestern and southwestern parts of the athletic complex, near Mountain Road and Route 100. Volunteers with tractors, chain saws and clippers cleared away the debris to make usable about 1˝ miles of trail.
"It's a volunteer program to build this trail," said Tom Donlin, parks administrator for the county's Recreation and Parks Department. "As they acquire some funds and acquire some volunteer labor, they go out and clear a section of the trail."
The horse and pony group was formed five years ago to create a unified voice to push for public trails, Dibben said. It began with 12 members and has grown to a 100-member group that meets once a month to ride, he said. "Clearly, one person going to the county wasn't going to do anything," he said. "We had to get an organization."
The group sought guidance from County Councilwoman Shirley Murphy, a Pasadena Democrat, who recommended that members meet with the county Recreation and Parks Department and present the need for horse trails through petitions. The group later won the county's approval to continue with its work.
"One of my goals here is to expand recreational facilities for everyone," Murphy said. "You have to see exactly what is needed out there, and horse trails is one of them."
The group is waiting to receive the state grant money this month, so it can continue the rest of the project's first phase, which includes removing more trash, designating parking areas and creating trail signs, Asti said.
The next part of the project, expected to begin in the spring, will include finishing the trails on the park's perimeter and connecting them to Jacobsville Park, she said.
Del. Joan Cadden, a District 31 Democrat who pointed the group to the Maryland Department of Transportation for help, said she thinks the trails are a good addition to the sports complex.
"They're to be commended, because they were looking for a place to ride and they really worked at achieving that," she said.
Eventually, the group wants to look at the possibility of installing a show ring and bleachers at the complex, Asti said.
For now, the group can use the sections of the trails that have already been cleared. Dibben rides his horses on the new Lake Shore trail every Sunday morning.
"This, I think, is a real start," he said. "And once we get all the trails that we want and need in the Lake Shore park, then we'll look at opening trails in other county parks."
excerpted from The Equiery, November 2000
Horses Shot & Killed in Drive-by Shooting
Living so close to two major metropolitan areas, Baltimore City and Washington, DC, we become accustomed to news reports about "drive-by shootings." But this one was different, and it made every horseman's blood run cold: "a horse was killed today in a drive-by shooting."
Many horse people fear reckless hunters, but it became quickly apparent that this could not even remotely be connected to any sort of irresponsible hunter, because moments before this horse was shot and killed, another horse about a mile away was shot and injured. Someone (or more likely someones) was intentionally and maliciously using horses for target practice.
On Wednesday, September 27, around noon, workers and riders at Waradaca, a public riding and boarding facility in Montgomery County, hear a shot, not an uncommon sound when located near DNR parkland. But this time the shot had come from the road, and the horses turned out in that paddock by the road came charging towards the barn, where a barn worker quickly (and luckily) discovered that one of the mares had been hit with a shotgun blast.
Meanwhile, the vehicle sped north, crossed the county line, made a left turn, and an occupant in the vehicle immediately shot another horse peacefully grazing by the fence line of a private breeding and training stable. That shot went clean through the mare, killing both her and the foal she was carrying.
Given that the incidents happened in different police jurisdictions, it took a little while for the two county police departments to coordinate investigative efforts. However, because there were two shootings only a mile or so apart, in the same time frame (broad daylight, about noon) of horses conveniently beside the road, the police were, once each was aware of the other incident, able to quickly rule out vendettas or reckless hunters and focus on the most likely profile: probably a group of young males with too much of some kind of substance in them and with an over abundance of hostile testosterone, who decided to show off the masculine prowess with the shotgun using living targets rather than the usual Stop sign. These kind of idiots usually end up bragging to the wrong person about their "accomplishments." With this as their profile, Howard County Police began an active investigation, and sure enough, within a week, based on a tip from a high school student, the police had arrested a 16 year old male. Shortly after that they arrested two more juveniles, both 17 year old males.
As of press time, Montgomery County had yet to press charges, but were close to doing so.
The Crime, The Charges
Unfortunately, because these boys are minors, they will be charged in juvenile court, and the courts keep a tight seal on these proceedings. But this we do know: Howard County will be charging them with animal cruelty, reckless endangerment and destruction of property. Montgomery County is planning to press the same charges, but is also considering adding conspiracy to commit a crime. As of this time, it looks like the youths (I would like to write thugs . . . actually, I would prefer to use words that are not printable in a family newspaper) will be charged separately in separate district courts, as if they were separate crimes, efforts are underway to press multiple charges on the state level. Again, because they are juveniles, the courts do not release this information to the general public.
Even more appalling is the fact that this crime of intentionally and violently killing an animal is only considered a misdemeanor in Maryland. According to the Annotated Code of Maryland Article 27, Crimes & Punishment; Section 59(b)(1):
Yep, you read that correctly folks. Someone can intentionally kill your horse and they can get away with murder. At this point, the best that we can hope for is that the jurisdictions will get together, decide to try them as adults, and then layer on as many charges as they can. However, as of press time, there has been no official movement by the jurisdictions to either press charges together or to try them as adults.
Time to Change the Law—And How You Can Help
Last year, the Maryland Horse Council supported a bill (but was not the initiator of the bill) that would have raised the bar on this crime, it would have made the intentional mutilation or killing of an animal a felony. For various reasons (including poor wording), the bill did not pass.
The Maryland Horse Council will have the opportunity this year to reintroduce a better bill, a bill that can pass, with the help and the backing of the horse community. It will be too late for these thugs, but at least the law will be changed for, heaven-forbid, any future acts. MHC will need your help—they will need people to testify, they will need people to contact appropriate representatives, and they will need help funding a lobbyist. If you are willing to help, you can contact MHC, c/o The Equiery, at email@example.com; fax (410) 489-7828, address P.O. Box 610, Lisbon, MD 21765. Updates will be posted on the Maryland Horse Council website, scheduled to debut in early January (www.mdhorsecouncil.com) and, of course, in their newsletter in The Equiery. Any contributions for funding a lobbyist for this issue should be made payable to the Maryland Horse Council and should be so earmarked; please note that such contributions are not tax deductible.
And, the fact of the matter is, although such crimes are rare against horses, they are all too common against smaller animals, cats, dogs and other house pets.
One Happy Ending
Minx, a 13 year old pretty palomino pinto mare, was hit by, police believe, one round of buckshot. Some of the shot grazed her, and some was embedded in her side. The 15.1 hh Arab/X mare spent several agonizing nights in intensive care because of toxicity at Marion duPont Scott Center in Leesburg, but is now, according to her vet, well out of the woods and on her way to full recovery. As so many of us do not, owner Vicki Dice did not have major medical insurance, so take this also as a reminder to review, update, or initiate insurance on your own horse.
FOR SALE—Trailer, Shoop 2 horse, electric brakes, break-away safety unit, rubber mats, mounted hay/grain bags, stall divider, front gravel guards, waxed and kept under tarp. Excellent paint and excellent condition. Asking $1700. Phone (301) 668-0169.
BOARDING—Boyds, MD. Trail riders wanted. Also, horses to lease and lessons offered. 5000 acres. Call (301) 540-5433.
WANTED—Newsletter Editor to take over the TROTNews. Needs computer, wordprocessing package, a mailing address, fingers to type with, and some understanding of grammar. But most importantly, in interest in the goings on of TROT and a desire to communicate these to other people. Please call me, Suzanne, at (301) 829-3881.
Jan 10 Wed TROT Board and Members Meeting. 7:30 pm, all TROT members always welcome. Call Gale Monahan for directions (301) 854-3852.
Jan 19-21 Timonium, MD, Horse World Expo, Maryland State Fairgrounds.
Feb 14 Wed TROT Board and Members Meeting. 7:30 pm, all TROT members always welcome. Call Gale Monahan for directions (301) 854-3852.
Feb 17 Sat TROT Annual PotLuck Dinner and Meeting, Howard Co. Fairgrounds, Rt. 144 1 mile west of Rt. 32, off I-70 at exit 80. Doors open 5:30 pm
Mar 14 Wed TROT Board and Members Meeting. 7:30 pm, all TROT members always welcome. Call Gale Monahan for directions (301) 854-3852.
Mar 25 Sun Trail Maintenance Day, Piney Run, Eldersburg, MD. Sponsored by the Carroll Co. Equestrian Council. Meet 10:00 am. Marz Road.
Trail Hosts of Year 2000
The list that follows reflects all those generous TROT members who have led one of our wonderful weekend trail rides over the course of this past year. Not only do they take time to lead a group on the trails they are most familiar with, they will often spend a great deal of time prior to the ride date trimming, pruning, and otherwise cleaning those same trail to show them to advantage. Thank you one and all!
If you are looking for someone knowledgeable in a certain trail region, you might find just the person in this list. Give them a call and ask to go riding with them!
Agricultural History Farm Park (Upper Rock Creek), Montgomery Co., Jim Frelund, (301) 869-9481
Black Hills Regional Park, Clarksburg, Montgomery Co., Jim Reynolds, (301) 916-2212
Catoctin Mountains, Frederick, Frederick Co.. Angela Klinger, (301) 898-9133
C&O Canal, Potomac, Montgomery Co. Alan Bennett, (301) 762-2260
C&O Canal from White's Ferry, Montgomery Co. Mimi Ernst, (301) 416-2388
Cunningham Falls, Thurmont, Frederick Co., Marilyn Miller, (301) 898-7274
Fair Hill Natural Environment Area, Elkton, MD, Karen Reynolds, (410) 392-4454
Gettysburg National Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Doris Kulp, (301) 271-0226
Gillis Falls Park, Carroll Co., Anne Bennof, (301) 829-0949
Greenbelt Park, Greenbelt, Pr. George's Co. Briavael Cianelli, (301) 262-2666
Hawlings River, Brighton, Montgomery Co., Karen Alexander, (301) 774-4499
Little Bennett Regional Park, Clarksburg, Montgomery Co., Jim Fieser, (301) 540-5085.
Liberty Reservoir, Eldersburg, Carroll Co., Randi Place, (410) 549-5763
Morgan Run NEA, Carroll Co., Doris Kulp, (301) 271-0226
N.E. Branch Anacostia River, Pr. George's Co. Mary and John Angevine, (301) 937-0014.
Paint Branch Stream Valley Park, Silver Spring, Montgomery Co. Mary Prowell, (301) 607-8061.
Patapsco Valley State Park, Marriottsville, Howard, Carroll, Baltimore Co., Annie Moe Benhoff, (410) 781-4165
Patuxent River State Park, Camp Waradaca, Montgomery Co. Gayle Ford, (410) 552-5372.
Patuxent River State Park, Howard and Montgomery Co. Sue Charbonneau, (301) 865-3399
Lower Patuxent/Jug Bay trails, Rosaryville, Jackie Cowan, (410) 923-6157
Potomac Riverside Farm, Poolesville, Montgomery Co., Anna Slaysman, (301) 972-8187.
Rachel Carson Regional Park, Montgomery Co. Rona Bloom, (301) 622-7662
Rocky Gorge Reservoir Trails, Laurel, Montgomery Co., Dennis and Barbara Webb, (301) 604-5619.
Rockburn Park, Howard Co., Sherry Carter, (410) 750-1334.
Savage Park, Savage, Howard Co. Cindy Withers, (301) 459-2768.
Sugarloaf Mountain, Comus, Frederick Co. Monica Breland, (301) 972-7454
Travilah Loop, Potomac, Montgomery Co., Shelia O'Donnell, (202) 362-4504
Union Mills, Westminster, Carroll Co. Cathy McElroy (410) 857-3540
WB&A Rails to Trails, Pr. George's Co. Briavael Cianelli, (301) 262-2666
Trail Riding during Hunting Season
reprinted from The Equiery, November 2000
Many people give up trail riding during "hunting season" or only go out on Sundays, because they think that hunters and trail riders cannot coexist safely. When most people think of hunting, they think of the big game; deer, with three seasons, bow, muzzle loader, and shotgun. However there are also seasons for upland game (rabbits, quail, pheasant, and crow) , forest game seasons (squirrels, wild turkeys, grouse) , furbearer seasons [fox (grey and red) , beaver, coyote, muskrat, mink, nutria, otter, raccoons & opossum, skunk & long tailed weasel], not to mention migratory bird seasons (woodcock, mourning dove, clapper and king rails, sora and Virginia rails, common snipe, Canada geese, and teal). Not everything can be hunted in every county, but generally something is always in season.
So why do we get the most nervous during deer seasons? During the bird seasons, hunters shoot up, during the game seasons, hunters shoot at the ground, but during deer seasons, they aim for somewhere in the middle. However, any hunter will tell you that it's impossible to mistake a horse and rider for a deer. Responsible deer hunters wait, attuned to every woodland sound, and watch for quarry, which moves virtually silently through the forest. Consequently, hunters will tell you, a horse sounds like an elephant.
So, if something is always in season, do we give up trail riding? Not likely. So how can we coexist? Easily, and the hunters have to do most of the work. In general, it is illegal to hunt or trap without a license in your possession; hunt on Sunday (except for persons with a Falconry permit, or an organized fox chasing pack) ; carry a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle; shoot on, from or across a public road; hunt or shoot wildlife within 150 yards of an occupied structure or camp without permission of the owner/occupant; cast rays of artificial light from a vehicle on woods, fields, orchards, livestock, wild animals, or buildings (spotlighting, although there are some exceptions); target shoot on state lands except in designated areas; construct permanent tree stands on state-owned or controlled properties; or trap on state lands without written permission. There are also laws for hunters about their weapons, the time of day they can hunt, what they can take, how much they can take, what they must wear (hunter fashion police?) and how much they have to pay to do it. Whew!
Are there rules that apply to trail riders? Certainly rules about trespassing on private property apply. Did you know that blue paint stripes 2" wide and 8" in length indicate that hunting is not permitted? And no matter what your personal feelings about hunting, it is illegal on private property or on property managed by the Department of Natural Resources to "interfere intentionally with the lawful taking of wildlife by another person; or harass, drive, or disturb any game animal intentionally for the purpose of disrupting a lawful hunt."
Common sense tells us to wear hunter orange, a cap, a vest or some other garment worn above the waist, for the same reason hunters are required to wear it. Because it is not a color found in nature, there is no mistaking it for what it is! Many people also put bells on their horses so that hunters can hear them coming. This is not intended to "intentionally" interfere or disturb with the hunter's lawful pursuit of game, but to have a little extra sound system to warn the hunter of the horse's presence, although chances are quite good he already knows the rider is there. Etiquette (and good sense) would dictate that once the trail rider and the hunter become aware of each other's presence, the trail rider should move on.
Should you wear orange and bells on Sunday during "deer season"? Probably not a bad idea. Just as there are trail riders in this world who leave garbage, wreck private property, and have no respect for others, there are some people who poach. Hunters say poachers are the exception. The Department of Natural Resources even has a "Catch a Poacher Hotline" that is available 24 hours a day at 1- 800-635-6124, tty.(410) 260-8835. Anonymity of the caller is guaranteed.
What are the deer seasons? Maryland is divided into four "Deer Management Regions" Region A is Garret, Allegheny, and western Washington Counties; Region B is Carroll, northwest Frederick, and eastern Washington Counties; Region C is Anne Arundel, Baltimore, the rest of Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties; Region D is Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, St. Mary's, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties. Each region (and sometimes sections within regions) has different dates, but plan on deer season for bow, muzzleloader, and firearms to be from September 15 through January 31, and sometimes, the seasons overlap. If you want to know who is hunting what when, your best bet is to contact the Department of Natural Resources at (410) 260- 8540 and get their booklet Hunting & Trapping in Maryland or at their website:
What should I do if I am trail riding and see foxhunters? If the fox hunters are coming towards you at a walk or slow trot, the best thing to do is to stay where you are, greet the field master when they get closer, and ask where he or she would prefer for you to go so that you don't cross the line of scent. The master will appreciate your conscientiousness, and may even ask you to join the field (which is a bonus, because other guests have to pay a capping fee!). If they are coming toward you at a gallop, chances are they are on a run, so the best thing for you to do is to move your horse as far off the trail as possible, but point him in the direction of the horses so that he does not kick out at them. (Remember that slower trail riders yield to the faster riders.) If you just see one or two foxchasers, standing or moving, they are probably staff, and only they know where they are going, but they probably know where field and the hounds are, so it is best to ask them where they think you should go to stay out of the way of the hounds and the line of scent, and then everyone can enjoy their day on the trails.
Tips for Trail Riding during Hunting Season
(those marked with a * should be practiced throughout the year)
News from Virginia Trail Organizations
Blue Trail-Fairfax Cross Country Trail Connector?
by Jim Wakefield
reprinted with permission from the Clifton Horse Society Leadline, December 2000
At the Fourth Potomac Heritage Trail Annual Caucus in Quantico on November 15, Bill Neidringhaus set up a display with large detailed maps showing how to connect the Blue Trail with the Fairfax Cross County Trail.
The Blue Trail is what most equestrians call the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail. This 17-mile trail runs through Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority land along Fairfax County's southwestern border with Prince William County, formed by Bull Run and the Occoquan River. It's a wonderful equestrian and walking trail with magnificent water views, extending from Bull Run Regional Park near I-66 to Fountainhead Regional Park halfway to I-95.
The new Fairfax Cross County Trail runs from the county's northern border in Great Falls Park to its southern border in Laurel Hill Community (formerly Lorton Penitentiary).
Looking at the two trails on a map, you can see that connecting them would extend the combined trail around most of Fairfax County. What is very appealing about such a connector is that, according to Bill's research, almost all the needed land is park land along the Occoquan River, and there are only three private properties that the connector would have to cross.
Since Bill Neidringhaus was the successful driving force behind the Fairfax Cross County Trail, we might expect similar success in developing this connector. This would be a great benefit to area equestrians and hikers.
Riding Vacation in Alberta, Canada
We had a wonderful vacation in Banff National Park, thanks to Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies (TRCR)! When the Canadian Pacific Railroad pushed rail through the mountains, they created "destination resorts"—Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, the Hotel Victoria. To provide activities to those guests, they organized this trail riding organization in 1923, and later a similar hiking organization. In the 1960s, TRCR became an independent non-profit organization.
Our groups was comprised of Jeff and Brenda (friends from Pennsylvania), Randolph, his brother Chandler, and Chandler's daughter Elizabeth. We were part of a larger group of 28 guests, plus 3 wranglers, 2 packers, and 2 cooks. We enjoyed the camaraderie of our little community in the wilderness. The riders came from all over—British Columbia to Saskatchewan, Virginia to Tennessee, New Mexico to California.
We rode in the Johnston Canyon, which lies between Banff and Lake Louise. We rode in from the trail head about 13 miles, which took about 7 hours at our pace—a walk. We did walk all the time, which took some getting used to, but was OK because the trails were all one-horse wide and the terrain often was rocky and steep. I had a beefy palomino, Randolph road a big red roan, Chandler a grey, and Elizabeth a buckskin. The horses were good—primarily Quarter horses—and were good looking, too, and well-fed. They were reliable, trustworthy, experienced trail horses. All the horses began their careers as pack animals, so they didn't scrape you into trees! Jeff and Brenda brought their own tack; we didn't and had excellent saddles. Bring or rent saddlebags for raingear, snacks, cameras, etc.
We stayed at a Teepee Town, an encampment brought in by helicopter at the beginning of the 9-week season (July) and evacuated the same way in September. In fact, while we were there, the helicopter (with a female pilot) brought in alfalfa cubes and other supplies in 6 trips taking just an hour. The horses didn't freak, as you'd expect. An artist friend of TRCR had painted Indian designs on the teepees, which were very picturesque. We all gathered in the walled cooktent to eat and during rainy weather. After dinner, we sat around a campfire on rough-hewn benches and sang songs, led by a TRCR member who volunteered to be the musician. The biffies were in tents, with a wooden "throne" box complete with white pop-top—all the comforts of home! The shower was a teepee with a shower bag suspended from the peak. The greatest luxury of all was having hot water!
They used propane for the hot water heater and stove, which had an oven, too, so we had lots of baked goods. Food was good and ample. There was a wash-up area, with mirrors and plastic bowls for the hot water—very nice. They supplied 3" "foamies," foam pads to put under the sleeping bag. You bring your own sleeping bag and any additional goodies. We brought self-inflating air mattresses to provide additional cushioning, but I don't think they were necessary. Our water came directly from Johnston Creek—no filtering needed! (They did have filtered/purified water for the squeamish.)
Each day we rode out to a different spectacular setting. All over were meadows of wildflowers. The season is so compressed, it looked like Spring turning daily to Fall. We rode to Badger Pass up ferociously steep hills. From the Pass, you could see down the other side of the mountain. The wind blew really hard up there; riders held their hats tightly! We rode to Pulsatilla Pass and took endless photographs of horses and riders against the beautiful backdrop of Wildflower Lake. Exquisite. We rode to Bonnet Glacier and I walked on hour up and up and up to see the glacier. No glacier. There was an additional high mountain behind which the glacier could have been hiding, but I had exhausted both energy and time and didn't go there. The maps say there IS a glacier; I can't prove it. WE saw another glacier frequently on our travels as well as some ice fields which feed the glaciers. Another day we went to Luellen Lake, a perfect and pristine mountain jewel beneath the Sawbuck Ridge. Some of us walked around to the opposite end to see the waterfall which feeds the lake.
Trail riding is the ideal way to see these glories; hiking is just too much work!
There aren't adequate words to describe how beautiful it is. The Canadian Rockies are simply magnificent. Huge, looming, snow-capped sharp peaks and steep escarpments. Built from tectonic collisions eons ago, the peaks point to the sky like accusing fingers, daring ascent by man. Our camp lay just below Castle Mountain, a much photographed mountain seen (from its other side) en route to Lake Louise. The lakes have the lovely and true colors of turquoise and green from limestone. It rained on us twice; the rest of the time was sunny and beautiful. No problems with Dryzabone!
We saw elk, mule deer, wild goats, and lots of marmots and ground squirrels.
The horses were kept in an electric-fenced paddock. One night they got out, perhaps aided by a curious deer seeking alfalfa. The wranglers split up, the first group finding the horses quickly. Unfortunately, the head wrangler headed back toward the trail head and rode the entire 13 miles and back. An electric fence surrounded the camp, too, to discourage grizzly bears.
Brenda saw a perfect bear pawprint in the mud at the Bonnet Glacier stop, but we didn't see a bear.
The TRCR base their camp in a different site each year, rotating among six different sites permitted by Banff National Park. The National Park is very particular about maintaining a pristine countryside. For example, TRCR must reseed the ground where the campsite and corral were situated. Next year the site will be Palliser Valley, at the very southern end of Banff National Park. Some TRCR folks thing that is the second most scenic site; Johnston Canyon is #1. I'd like to see the Palliser, too. You can't get enough of this extraordinary country.
I'd recommend the ride highly. It is also economical. It costs about $900 Canadian, which is about $600 US for 6 days of riding. That includes the horses. By comparison, we paid $550 for the Wyoming Outlaw Trail Ride, and then rented horses for $225, a total of $775 for 7 days of riding. The other costs are getting there, of course, and the hotel before and after the ride.
This is a great opportunity for new riders, too. Chandler and Elizabeth are novice riders and did just fine. We rode 5-7 hours each day, with breaks to seek a tree or have lunch. I loaned them half-chaps and seat savers. I wore full chaps on cool days. Of the 28 guests, only 5 of us had our own horses. Now we have new friends to ride with in the United States and Canada!
The last night in camp was "skit night," or, really, any kind of entertainment you wanted to offer. One of the packers played the guitar and sang songs he had written. Several guests put together skits. I brought a bunch of jokes I received on the Internet, sorted through them, and picked nine "stories." Chandler and Elizabeth and 2 others did a skit from a Saturday Night Live program. Randolph was in several skits and then also told jokes at the end. One woman wrote words about the horses and events of the week and set it to the music of a well-known tune. It was fun.
Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies can be explored at their website: www.canuck.com/~trcr
Now I'm back on flat land, dreaming of the next ride! Vikki Kingslien
Vikki is a member of the Clifton Horse Society in Virginia. Reprinted with permission from CHS Leadline, November 2000.
Been on a wonderful horseback riding vacation? We'd love to hear about it. Write it down and mail or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 7928 Bennett Branch Rd., Mt. Airy, MD 21771. Suzanne