I'll admit it: over the years of trail riding, I'd become picky about who we chose to ride with.
I'd pretty much decided that if Joe and I weren't riding with a few select friends
or at a NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference) competition
then we'd prefer to ride by ourselves.
Not because we're loners, but spending the day with people
who can't control their horses, don't follow the rules of the area where we're riding
and who aren't safety conscious isn't for us.
It was a major leap of faith when we decided to try a public trail ride
being held near Shenandoah National Park.
My fingers and toes were crossed that there wouldn't be 100 crazy beer drinking riders out there
with Joe and I wearing our helmets.
I'm delighted to say that my fears were totally unfounded
and we had a fabulous time at the Flint Hill Trail Ride!
We've finally begun using our big living quarters trailer again, and what a grand time we're having!
A normal day ride for us means taking our small bumper pull trailer and using our GPS's to plan out a day out in a National Forest or other nearby public trails.
This was our second trip in the big trailer this year (I'll post about Trip #1 later)
and our first to a destination here in Virginia!
So.... about Flint Hill which was a fundraiser for the Flint Hill Volunteer Fire Department.....
We left the barn in the AM on Friday
and it was an easy 2 hour drive up to the Huntly/Flint Hill area south of Front Royal.
The field where we parked was HUGE.....
And did I mention scenic?!
Set up was easy for us as we didn't bother with electric corrals
instead we chose to overnight the horses NATRC style:
tied to the trailer on their overhead Hi-Tie arms.
Look who got to come along to camp....
Although Attagirl had to stay behind while we were out on the trail she loves to travel!
Our entry fees included meals for the weekend but not on Friday,
so after sandwiches at the trailer,
we saddled up and went out for a short leg stretcher of a ride.
We hadn't gotten our maps yet and were supposed to be back in camp by 4PM,
so we quickly did an "out and back" jaunt of about 7 miles.
We'd come prepared with gloves, hats, coats etc but didn't even need a jacket on this first afternoon.
Sunny and with a lovely breeze which bought down a few leaves
as we relaxed on our beautiful horses.
We decided that we were perhaps the luckiest people alive ......
We only saw about 12 riders out on the trails
and everyone was polite, in control and yes.... sober!
(Trust me this would NOT have happened in Louisiana where the words "public trail ride"
normally go along with how many iced down beers can fit in the saddle bags!)
We turned around at "Cougar Rock"
and were excited about the prospects of what the trails would be like the next morning.
When we emerged from the woods, there were definitely more trailers in the field
but no way that you could imagine that there were over 250 horses and riders.
The tent which had been blown down by winds the night before
(I'm glad we missed that!)
had been re-erected.
We went for a walk with Atta, took care of the horses and made a filling stir-fry for dinner.
The next morning it became apparent how well run the ride was....
a delicious breakfast was dished up from the food tent.
Not just edible but excellent:
homemade muffins, real scrambled eggs and sausage cooked in cast iron skillets!
We visited during breakfast with a few riders in the dining tent,
got our maps
and went back to these two characters
who were as yet unsuspecting that they were about to be asked to haul us around
in the mountains for 17 miles.
Tomorrow I'll post photos of the trails.
In the meantime, ride along for a few seconds on this Hyperlapse video....