A ream of mine has always been to take my horses camping. To enjoy the wilderness and sleep under the serenity of starlight while the flames of the campfire performs their dance. A couple years ago I had the chance to camp using someone else’s horse, Fred. I checked off camping and swimming with horses off my bucket list that weekend (Bucket List!). No, I didn’t sleep under the stars; we actually had a trailer to sleep in; but it was heavenly.
For years I have heard great things about a place called Otter Creek in Glenfield, NY (North/Central NY). Many of my friends have gone but with no trailer I have not yet been able to make the trip.
This past weekend one of my favorite people came to pick me up and we headed west with her 3H trailer. Tiger, JoJo, and little Buttercup joined and her mom met us with her personal sleeping camper.
When w arrived at camp we unloaded the horses and let them settle into their stalls that had an attached run. It was so warm outside they preferred the cool comfort of the barn as they nibbled at their nets and quenched their thirst.
We parked, got settled ourselves, enjoyed a variety of snacks, and got ready for our first ride. Tiger prefers to be a lead horse. When following he tends to get antsy and tries to walk up the ther horses’ behinds. As a leader his ears are forward and he’s relaxed. He’s not very spooky but can occasionally get startled by the wildlife (which I usually spot before he does). The worst he his done is plant all fours. When he realizes we are okay he licks, chews, and carries on. We came across a doe missing her tail, a doe with her days old fawn, and a porcupine running through the woods and climbing a tree. The first trail ride had some steep hills and there were a lot of spots where the trail had washed out quite badly. The trail took us along a stream. The sun shone through the trees beautifully while keeping us all cool. In the forest the oppressive heat was mitigated.
We returned to camp, enjoyed a few adult beverages and I made the girls barbecue chicken and bacon flatbreads over the camp fire. We finished with s’mores and I made a new friend. Two tan young male cats joined us by the campfire. One of them jumped onto my lap and cuddled for a while. For the remainder of the trip he followed me from the camp to the barn and back. He stopped in for nightly pets. I started to call him Kidd.
In the morning we enjoyed egg sandwiches while the horses digested their breakfast. We were tacked up and riding by 10am. We rode along sandy trails and enjoyed the comfortable forest air. There were a few open spaces open to the sun and the bugs; Tiger doesn’t tolerate pests well and as a leader he attracted them most. Fortunately the sunny/buggy areas were limited on our excursions.
We came to a stream and a lovely spot to go down and walk into the water. Tiger wasn’t comfortable leading into the water so Buttercup and JoJo showed him the way. Once he saw them survive he easily walked in and had a drink.
Around lunchtime we stopped the horses at a lunch spot. Tiger was tied to the hitching post while the girls tied to trees (Tiger, thinking highly of himself, thought he was rather studly with his ladies so he was kept separate). With the horses napping at their posts we sat at a nearby picnic table and enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
We packed up lunch and rode back to camp, returning around 2:30(ish). Once we bathed the horses and put them away with some hay and water we drove down to Otter Creek. Roadside there were a large group of people. Some in the water, some in lawn chairs spread across the rocks. Some had tubes and used the large smooth rock falls as a waterslide. Everyone was enjoying the water on a hot day. We took the dogs (Jade and Forest) down to a quieter spot downstream and sat peacefully. I did get in the water after I got the photos.
That night my friend cooked us asparagus and chicken sausage with a side of pasta salad. We ran out of plates so we made do with aluminum foil. We finished with strawberry shortcake (my favorite).
It was our final morning. We woke up early and fed the horses. More egg sandwiches made courtesy of my backyard hens. The camp owners told us they had nobody coming in behind us that day so we could stay as long as we wishe. We packed another lunch and were horseback by 9:30am.
Our trail rides this trip were long, but low intensity. We trotted some but walked most. There were some tougher hills but it was mostly gentle. The ground was dry and mostly sandy. But they were LONG. Longer than I have ever ridden. Tiger was pretty tired by the third day, also. He napped while I tacked up. He was happy to lead but was also happy to follow when we came to wider trails. The long low miles were fantastic for us as a team and for his body and mind.
We stopped overlooking Pitcher Pond and the horses again enjoyed a nap while we ate.
We headed back to camp, arriving back around 1pm. The horses rested for a while as we packed the camp and got the trailers ready to return home. Once we were loaded the horses happily jumped in to get home.
Either Nahe wasn’t concerned or he was simply too warm to care because when he saw us pull back in he didn’t utter a sound. Tiger unloaded and he casually reunited with Nahe. It was anticlimactic to say the least. I am so happy that Nahe wasn’t at all phased by being alone. Zac did a great job caring for him and my neighbor stopped over to give him some love while I was away.