Yes, this is the 21st century, and women are liberated. But if you're a product of the 1950s/1960s and find yourself single after years of married life, the idea of taking off for the unknown with your horse and rig might be a bit intimidating. But you can do it ? I'm proof!
Our first expedition must've been hilarious to bystanders. My neighbor, Cassandra, and I pooled our money and purchased a used horse trailer. Her horse was a confirmed "stay at home" individual, so the loading process was almost longer than our actual riding time. We chose a state park near our homes that offered easy horse trails and overnight camping.
On the 30-mile trip to the park, Cassandra's decided to remove the trailer's partition and sort of squash my little mare. No problem ? we whipped into a parking lot, unloaded the horses, straightened the partition, and were on our way.
As two single women, we were certain that we'd be murdered in the middle of the night, so I took along my empty rifle case and hung it prominently outside the trailer.
It was very late October. The trees along the park's meandering trails were brilliant shades of yellow and red; fallen leaves made the ground resemble a beautiful Persian carpet. Ice in the water buckets confirmed that it was downright chilly.
Beds? We just crawled into the truck's box. About midnight, when the temperature fell to 28 degrees, we crept to the trailer, snagged the saddle blankets, then retreated back to the truck to freeze until daylight. Later, we wondered why we didn't just get in the cab, start the engine, and turn on the heater.
But we had a ball. We were hooked. We could load up the horses and travel!
Our second adventure was better organized. We headed to Wyatt's Ugly Horse Ranch in Palmyra, Wisconsin, adjacent to the 20,000-acre Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. We arrived and thrived ? two days of fantastic riding on easy, well-marked trails.
On a Roll
We were on a roll. On our day rides, we acquired Betty, a motorcycle mama whose true passion is trail riding on her trusty gaited mare. Luck brought us all to Endless Valley Stables near Spring Green, Wisconsin.
This is a well-managed stable with miles of trails ? and real beds to sleep in! It offers camping (hot showers are available), farmhouse/lodge/bunkhouse rentals, and superb horse amenities.
The area's rolling, wooded hills, small creeks, and serene valleys offer easy trails. Color-coded trail maps with corresponding trail markers make getting lost impossible ? even for me!
Just a couple miles away is Governor Dodge State Park, which has miles of well-marked equestrian trails.
Red Rock Ride
And the best is yet to come. After reading an advertisement in The Trail Rider, we're heading for Utah and Arizona for the six-day Red Rock Ride though Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Escalante Staircase, Paria Canyon, Butch Cassidy's Hideout, and the Grand Canyon.
Pretty good for three old women from the flatlands of Illinois!
For more information on Kettle Moraine State Park (Southern Unit), call (262) 594-6900, or visit www.stateparks.com/kettle_moraine.html; for more on Endless Valley Stables, call (608) 753-2887, or visit www.endlessvalleystables.com; for more on Wyatt's Bunkhouse Ugly Horse Ranch, call (262) 495-2718, or visit www.uglyhorseranch.com; for more on the Red Rock.