Since January some friends and I have been planning a trip to Otter Creek. Through the course of the year the previous two trips have been spur of the moment opportunities to have a good time but this one is the one we’ve been planning.
In June I took Tiger to Otter Creek Stables and we camped in the trailer. It was my first experience at Otter Creek and we had a blast. For more check out Adventures With Tiger.
Last month a different friend had a last minute opening so Nahe and I took advantage of it. This time we stayed in a lovely cabin called The Bunkhouse. For more on that check out Nahe’s News.
Last week was the week we’ve been planning. It wasn’t what we expected but it work out fabulously. Two of the original girls who signed up to go baled on us and decided not to come. We were able to fill those empty spots with some other friends. And the best thing? I was able to bring both horses!
I always have a modicum of guilt when I take a horse out and leave the other. I was thrilled to finally have taken Nahe out but I spent a portion of my time worried about Tiger. This time I was able to bring both gentlemen and share them both with a friend who I know is an excellent rider and horse person.
We stayed in the same cabin…the Bunkhouse. The bunkhouse comes fully furnished with a kitchen. We had wifi and a bluetooth speaker to enjoy some tunes. There’s no air conditioning and this time it wasn’t needed. The cabin sleeps four and my favorite room is the screened porch where we ate our meals and chatted. The water is potable and tasted delicious, so happy to know since we usually pack an absurd amount of water. The water pressure in the shower was heavenly.
The horse accommodations at the cabins were lovely. Buckets, wheelbarrows, and pitchforks were all provided and the manure pit was close-by…scraped after every visitor to keep the pests down. Each horse had it’s own spacious stall with a decent walk-out paddock. It was well drained and sandy.
We arrived the first night and unpacked. We managed to bring a ton of food so we enjoyed a snack. We got it together in time to take a nice brief ride (about 1.5 hours). For our first ride I hopped on Tiger while my friend tried out Nahe. I brought the western saddle for him but she wanted to try her English. Within five minutes we determined the saddle was a poor fit so we had to return to camp. Instead of using the saddle she went on my bareback pad. If it wasn’t Nahe and I didn’t know her riding skill I’d have insisted on a saddle but we went along with it. She was confident in herself and I in Nahe. Personally my butt would have been rubbed and sore after 30 minutes but I applaud her.
The first ride was brief in comparison…about 1.5 hours and we walked, trotted, cantered, and even took up a gallop. Nahe threw in a few bucks as he does when he’s happy and joyful. He was excited to have some fun but fortunately he’s very comfortable so my friend had no trouble sitting it. Towards the end we came upon a nice stretch of open dirt road. We took up another canter but it felt so good I left Tiger stretch out a bit more. Before I knew it the three of us were galloping down the road with smiles stretched across our faces.
Our fourth friend joined us about 15 minutes after we returned from our ride. She brought with her an Arab/Paint gelding named Stormy (or Norman). Stormy is 28 years young but you’d never know it. We fed the horses and let them all rest overnight.
In the morning we casually ate breakfast and were on the trail by around 10/10:30AM. We set out to find water. I was aboard Nahe this time and my friend on Tiger. We had a wonderful start and we even found another place to get in another gallop. I was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Spunky Stormy himself eager and excited and keeping up with the others. We reached the first spot on the map that was supposed to be water access. Sadly there was a sign the said “No Horses.” It was a bit irritating since the map was for the Otter Creek HORSE Trails and was pinned for having water. We dismounted and walked the horses to the edge of the lake for a drink.
There was a hitching post and picnic tables so we tied the horses, took off their bridles, and let out their girths while we sat for lunch. It was a busy area and a family not-so-subtly waited for us to finish so they could use the picnic tables. We finished up and the group of people stood by their cars watching us as we mounted and left.
We continued on the trail and came to the next water spot. This time it was a true watering hole and the horses we able to walk in and enjoy. My friend’s Oldenburg mare, Roxanne and Nahe both were happy to stand and wallow in the water while Tiger and Stormy had to move around and stomp a bit. Nahe’s idea of playing in the water includes burying his face to his eyes, blowing out all his air, and pushing the water.
Basically he’s a hippo.
Our second ride was quite long, we got in about 8 or 9 miles that day.
Our third day started out the same. We casually had breakfast and made a plan for our next ride. Stormy’s mom had to get back home so we were hoping to be back early afternoon so she could get home at a reasonable hour.
Again, we set out for water. We tackled a new route that took us over a bridge.
The trail was shorter in distance but it was very hilly…it was tough on all of us. We got to the water and again the horses enjoyed some time there. We got back a little later than planned but had tackled about 5 or 6 miles. Stormy’s mom packed up and set out for home. The three of us that remained were tired.
We initially thought we’d take the kayaks that were available to us but instead we enjoyed a quiet afternoon. We all separated and had naps/quiet time. Tiger came back from the ride with a very sore back. I gave him some bute, applied liniment, and spent a good hour massaging and stretching him. After, I borrowed an anti-gravity chair and hung out with Nahe while the horses nibbled their nets.
Just as I was falling asleep I felt a gently nudge on my legs. Nahe came to investigate me in the chair to make sure I was alright. He and I cuddled quietly like that for a while. He stood over me and kindly asked me to scratch his face, neck, and chest. When he was satisfied he returned to his hay net.
It rained final night beginning around midnight. It calmed to a drizzle by morning and by 10am the sun began to come out again. The girls both needed to get back to the real world and responsibilities and I was concerned about Tiger’s back so we decided to forego a last ride. We packed up the food…we had made a considerable dent in the hoards we arrived with three nights prior. We loaded ourselves up and then the horses and began our journey home.
Otter Creek is not terribly far but three hours is still quite a drive. We unloaded everything (and remember I had to pack for TWO horses). The boys happily unloaded and found their favorite roll spot in their pasture. They took a good roll, had a cool drink of water, grabbed a few apples from under the apple tree (which is already dropping ripe apples somehow), then proceeded to graze on the pasture. The day we left I had spent a couple of hours clearing the entire paddock of manure and mowed it so we could come home to a beautiful pasture. The boys were happy.
I unpacked and returned all the tack to their rightful places. I smiled thinking of how lucky I am to have experienced Otter Creek not once this year but three times. How I am so excited to find a truck and begin hauling the boys now that I am smitten by horse camping.
Have you ever camped with your horses? I’d love to hear what your favorite places or things to do with your horses are in the comments!