October 21, 2012

Trail Ride in Brown County

Really, is there any better way to spend a cloudless, sunny, 70 degree Indiana day in late October than this?

I got up super early to get chores done this morning so that Connor could be packed into the horse trailer with five of his best friends en route to gorgeous Brown County, Indiana.  Brown County is known for its hills: too steep to farm, but perfect for outdoor tourism, especially during the autumn season.

For the first 30 minutes or so of the ride, I thought I'd made a mistake.  Little Legs was walking as fast as he could, but still couldn't keep pace with the big horses, and worse, he seemed disinterested.  Then we turned off of the wide, flat trail and onto a single-file trail that in some places went straight up, some places went straight down, and demanded his attention to his feet with every step.  He LOVED it!  His ears were pricked, he walked through whatever I asked, jumped whatever I asked, and once again impressed me with the extreme caution he takes with where he places his feet.  This is by far not the first time I've ridden him through forested trails, but it's been a while, and it was nice to see that nothing has changed.

The best part of the ride was stopping at The Story Inn for lunch.  It's a B&B/wedding venue/restaurant that has hitching posts for the trail riders.  We came prepared, like this:

Ready for the Inn!
and then tied the horses like this while we grabbed pulled pork sammiches and sodas:

Harley and Connor get reacquainted

Connor, Harley and DJ
The best part about Story occurred when I was walking Connor over to get a drink from the stock tank, and a bride getting married there walked up and asked if she could pose for a professional picture with Connor in her dress and cowboy boots.  "He's really muddy and sweaty," I said.  "I don't mind, I've said this whole time I really want a picture with a horse and he's so cute!"  It took a little work on my part to convince Connor that this person in a giant fluffy white dress wouldn't kill him, but he did pose for the picture, and since he was nervous he arched his neck and blew out his nostrils and pricked his ears while sniffing her in the cutest possible way.  I am going to have to track down that photographer!

I made the whole ride really low-key, and just wanted him to have fun.  I focused on keeping my left hand upright and feeling like the reins were sticks, but other than that, I didn't mess with anything.  I was very surprised when, on the way back from Story, when we'd been riding for 2+ hours already, he started coming round, stepping under, and working over his back in a way I haven't felt in a while.  I rolled with that, and since we were so far behind everyone else anyway, I worked him laterally across the trail and did other minor flexing exercises as we went along.  It was so awesome to feel him go like that again, and of his own accord.  I think the vacation is just what we needed.

We spent most of the ride this far behind the big horses, and then trotting to catch up.  I didn't mind one bit!


  1. Cool!! We had a similar Sunday, except I led Shy and we didn't have a bride at an inn. But it was beautiful here in Michigan and we hit the trails!

  2. That's awesome! I vacationed in Michigan this summer, it was gorgeous, I can imagine it would be great in fall. I thought of you today, two different people asked if he was a Haflinger over the course of the ride. They do look similar if you're looking at the coloring.

  3. Gorgeous photos. I'm jealous of your 70 degree weather and trails with a B & B on them. How cool is that!? Wish we lived closer.

  4. Sounds idyllic!
    Hope you can track down the photographer and share the bride photo. One of my ex-liveries was adamant that her horse would be included in her wedding day, and there are photos of her sitting on him with the dress draped over Harry as well - it had a huge train and was big enough for both rider and horse to wear!

  5. How fun! Lex had the opportunity to do that ride, along with lunch at the Story Inn the last summer she had her Hennessy.

    Love the bride part - what a sweetie Connor is!

  6. I have always wanted to do that on a trail ride. It's just that our trails are never anywhere close to civilization. Glad he was good!

  7. Martine, that sounds beautiful. I've thought about doing a "trash the dress" photoshoot that included Connor, but even though my dress was a slim fit mermaid-style dress, I think I'd have a terrible time convincing Connor I wasn't scary.

    Kelly, I'm sure she was also the only person out there wearing a helmet and riding in English tack like we were. :-)

    Aimee, I think I'd rather have access to the hills and lack of civilization that you seem to have, although it was super cool to ride to a restaurant.