September really kickstarted me back into the riding game and I continued it through October.
For a few years, I have wanted to see the Green Mountain Horse Association in Woodstock, Vermont. Starting back in 1926, the venue is home to several endurance rides, competitive trail rides, eventing, dressage, carriage driving, and many other equestrian events. With the help of locals who allow trail use on their private properties, the club has access to 400 miles of trails. In fact, the Dressage days is one of the oldest dressage shows in the country. There are 155 stalls and with the temporary setup, they can house up to 220 horses.
Originally the plan was to attend our first endurance 25-mile ride, but it was clear we hadn’t properly prepared and we really didn’t know what the terrain would be like. So I did the next best thing.
I took a friend with me and we rode in the fall foliage pleasure ride. The ride was 8 miles of very hilly terrain on lovely well-groomed trails. The foliage and mountain views were fabulous. The venue is just over 2 hours from home so we got out early in order to tack up and hit the trails before 10.
Nahe and Tiger were very excited. A new place. A bunch of new horses. It had the essence of a hunter pace and they were definitely feeding off of our own thrill of the new adventure. Nahe, acting very unlike himself, spooked at a rock going up a hill within the first 5 minutes. He jumped sideways and forward while we were headed at a decent incline. I, unexpecting Nahe’s sudden rock-phobia, landed on my feet bewildered at what had just happened. I managed to scramble back on and we continued the ride. Tiger mostly jigged for the first half, he was very sweaty but contained himself well around other horses. Certainly nothing as bad as last year’s hunter paces. As we continued on both horses settled right down as they realized the work was slow and calm. The hills were not what I expected. We climbed for what seemed like a solid half mile up, came back down….then climbed…and climbed…and came back down. We went slow but the hills made it challenging.
All in all we had a great time, we returned to the site a few hours later, ate lunch while the horses relaxed in a stall. We loaded back up and came home before dinner.
GMHA was a lovely time, and I was eager to go again.
So I did!
Two weeks after the fall foliage ride another friend and I made the trip back for the pleasure ride option of their endurance weekend. The pleasure ride took us along a completely new set of trails than my first ride. The hills were steep but not as bad as the first.
We traveled along gravel roads and viewed some stunning nearby farms. There must have been a foot race and a cycling event the same day. In different sections of our road travels, we came by quite a few runners and cyclists.
The drive to this venue was simple. I’m highly considering joining the association. The only tough thing to consider is the inability to camp here (other than organized events). The rule comes from the town, not the association, but it’s definitely given me pause from deciding to join.
Either way GMHA is incredible and I cant wait until our next adventure there.