Wednesday, May 30, 2018

OREA Poker Ride May 26

Last week Alicia messaged me to see if I wanted to meet her at a Poker Ride at the state recreation area. It's only about a half hour drive from home and I was very game! We were supposed to get thunderstorms through the weekend but the forecast was showing they wouldn't be here until later in the day. The ride was in the morning? Heck yes!

It was super relaxed and run by the Ortonville Recreation Equestrian Association. $10 to ride, $5 if you were a member. I decided to join the group mainly because they're the ones responsible for the maintenance and building of the equestrian campground and trails. Support your local trail orgs! It's a good cause and it helps you keep access!

They've built a pavilion and a couple other amenities at the campground, which is quite nice. I wish there were more trails though. I'd be TOTALLY willing to ride manage an endurance ride here if there was enough mileage. As it is, you'd struggle to get an LD. At most you could do an intro ride. It would be a good spot to do clinics.


I made sure I was mostly packed Friday night and then went out to load Saturday morning.  Gwyn was a pill and got away from me before I could close up my magic loading pen of magic. But because I always anticipate things like this, I ended up only being 5 minutes behind schedule, lol.

Putting away the first set of strings
 The sky was threatening rain and it was oppressively humid. Alicia and I were wishing it would actually rain. It never did, but the sun did come out which only added to the heat. Thankfully the trails at Ortonville are all wooded. It was quite pleasant.

For the poker ride we had to go collect string from 7 different stations along the trail. They'd marked the map with the path to take where we would find each station. For each string we found we'd get a card from a deck and whoever had the best hand would win half the pot of money from the entries. You had to find a minimum of 5 stations.

Happy mare after we ditched the big group
 Most everyone found six but there was a HUGE tree down on the trail that had to have been recent and apparently the 7th one was right there, lol.

Alicia and I started out with a group of people that she knew from up in her neck of the woods. They were riding somewhat green horses (and a mule!) and immediately set off on this hardly used trail in an effort to avoid the muddier parts of the main trail.

Alicia and I had no idea what was going on and I honestly should have applied the endurance maxim "Ride your Own Ride" to this one.

We briefly took a wrong turn.
 Gwyn was PISSED OFF. I figured this would be a low key event and wanted to try my new sidepull noseband. Haha. Hahahahahahahhaah. That was a mistake. It was like a comedy of errors.

1. We tucked in behind Alicia's friends. Gwyn did NOT like that.
2. Those friends were going S.L.O.W.  Gwyn did NOT like that either. I was constantly turning her into the trees so we wouldn't run up the quarter horse's ass in front of us. I felt awful because that's just rude on my part.
3. I had very little braking power from Miss Friesian Muscular Neck in that sidepull. Or at least very little respect from her.

We got to a water crossing and the lead horse was balking at going through either the water or over the bridge so I asked if we could just pass them. They let us go, Gwyn eyed the bridge, then clomped confidently over it. We turned a corner and there was a hill and that was where I lost control.

Gwyn TOOK off and just galloped up the trail. She blew through my aids and while I was laugh-crying, I wasn't entirely pleased. I should have turned back and grabbed the baucher I had in the trailer. Hindsight.

Patches of mud
Alicia caught up with us quickly and we went on to have a much better ride with just the two of us. Gwyn led the whole way and only had one more run away moment. Otherwise she was rating back and listening to the sidepull. In the future, I'd use it for endurance rides after we've been on the first loop. But not for the first loop, dear god. That mare is a freight train.

I swear she thought it was an endurance ride too. I was hoping for a more relaxed pace, haha.

Ponds in the Rec Area
 And again, sorry for the tilt. I need to figure out how to mount my go pro so it won't be like this.

Notable Quotes Include:

"Holy shit that frog's huge! It's like a mountain chicken!"
"You almost had a frog in a frog!" "Oh that wouldn't have been fun to pick out later..."
"I just squished a little caterpillar bug on my leg!"
 On approaching a hill: 
"Hey, we're probably going to end up going up this fast. Are you good?"
"So grab my reins?"
 Then later...
"Still eating the cliff bar!"
Hard to tell, but this is a giant, steep hill (for Michigan)
 "For the past, I don't know, quite a while, she's had a stick in the bottom of her tail..."
Those steps are used in their judged trail ride. We went up them just fine!
 "Can we not walk in the marsh? Thank you."
The downed tree and where the path is supposed to go...

Creek or bridge option crossing. 

Gwyn checks out the marsh

Hot mare.

The purple cantle pack was one of my blogger exchange gifts! It's perfect with all my purple!

They are good buddies now.

Walking back to our trailers to cool the horses off.
Neither of us had a good enough hand to win the money, but we were famished enough to enjoy the grilled hot dogs that were provided by OREA.  I will definitely return, both to OREA events and this trail system. It's got some nice hills we can condition on and get some decent mileage in with loops that aren't far from parking.

I'll eventually have a video of the highlights of the ride.


  1. Omg Gwyn seriously lol well at least the ride ended on a good note and there was food at the end! I love all the purple. BTW where in Michigan are you? I'm visiting my sister living in Detroit 4th of July weekend and am looking for places to ride :)

    1. I'm north of Detroit but not by much. I commute to a Detroit suburb for work. I live about an hour away from the city. There's a bunch of places to ride within 30-40 minutes of the city. More if you venture a bit farther.

      Addison Oaks County Park is one, you can rent horses at Brighton Riding Stables and ride the trails at Brighton Recreation Area, Maybury State Park also has a riding stable with rental horses and trails.

  2. What fun! I tried Gem in a side pull for the 100 we did and put it on her for the second loop. It lasted 5 miles before I got off and put her bit back in. When not in beast mode at a competition she respects t but there was no way she was listening to me at a real ride!

    1. LOL, I think if I try it in the future I will DEFINITELY have a bit along for a back up if we continue to have issues. Unfortunately, I think since Gwyn thought this was a 'real ride' that it does not bode well, hahaha