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Great Lakes Michigan Horse Sport News

Jen's Journal
Shore to Shore in Michigan on Horseback

Jen's June/July Shore - to - Shore Michigan Ride. U.P.-er Jen Pond just finished her 5th annual ride on her 17-year old Tennessee Walker. It's an east-west route from Oscoda on Lake Huron to Empire on Lake Michigan. The trail is 250 miles, 16 days, ridden in 25-mile increments. It's two days riding and one day layover. Says Jen, "This year I am keeping a journal for the first time."

And her mount, a 17-year old Walker? "I was a die-hard QH fan for 20 years until I got started doing this long-distance trail riding. My friend Kate had a TWH that I got on one day, went about 100 yards down a trail and back, and that was enough for me to sell my three horses and buy a Walker. This horse I have is all heart, he's very strong and very fast and he's 17 this year. I do a lot of conditioning before the ride." Not to mention that it's a 9 hour drive from Jen's home in Iron River to the start box.

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Jenny Pond Journal
Shore-to-shore trail ride June 2007
Oscoda to Empire, Michigan

Day one, June 16th, River Rd. Camp
Got to camp safe, did not get lost. Unusual for me. Very hot today, going to have to give Tuck electrolytes. So far just Virginia, Bill & Gail, Ken & Linda, and myself.

Deb Mason. Beautiful new big trailer. Four horse slant, 10 foot short wall. Managed to take out her own mail box coming out of her driveway.

Day two, June 17th, River Rd. Camp
Fourteen miles, weather was beautiful, nice temps, sunny skies. Road from camp in to Lake Huron, trailered back to camp. Lots of shady woods, big stand of mature Red Pine, some roads.

I would say that most of the horses in our group are gaited.  There are Tennessee Walking horses, Missouri Fox Trotters, some Mountain Pleasure, some Spotted Saddle horses, and our trail boss rides a Peruvian Paso.  There are also a few Arabs, a few Apps and a couple Quarter horses and one thoroughbred. 

Most of the horses seem to really get stronger after the first 4 or 5 days.  In the past, I have seen horses that are high strung not do well at all on the trip,  and once in a while someone who is inexperienced will push their horse too far and run into problems but this year that didn't happen.  Our trail boss is very good about teaching us all how to keep a horse healthy and avoid problems on this type of ride.

As I said, we rode out and trailered back to camp. O n the way back we wanted to go into Oscoda to top off with diesel. Deb called her husband to ask where we should go that had diesel and room for big rigs. His directions ended up putting us into the middle of a section of closed road. Managed to make it out Okay but kind of hair raising pulling the trailer. Thought for sure we would round a corner and see a “Road closed” blockade.

Not that it matters, it is not a race, but Ken insisted that I record that he was first into the lake today. Of course he did ride out 1½ hours before anyone else.

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Day 3, June 18th, South Branch Camp
Weather started off nice but got progressively warmer, around 87 degrees. In the woods almost all day so the shade was nice. Winding trails thru mature Red Pine, young Oak, and closer to the camp, White pine. Some hills. Tuck is doing great. Three horses in camp having problems. One will not drink, one overheated and one with a mid case of colic. Hot weather, humidity, long miles are hard on horses.

Some of the precautionary things we do. When I get into camp, the first thing I do is untack and sponge Tuck down with a brace I make with water and Absorbine, which helps cool him out and helps prevent a sore back, then he can have about 5 swallows of warmed water. Then I wait one hour and then he can have all the water he wants.   I keep an eye on the horses' manure.  You can tell when a horse is getting dehydrated by how dry the manure looks.  give electrolytes or force salt.  I carry rescue (paste) electrolytes with me in my saddle bags.   The reason I carry paste and not the loose is because when a horse gets into trouble, they are sometimes not even able to swallow, so it's easier to get the electrolytes into them in a paste form.

Day 4, June 19th South Branch Camp
Our first lay over day. Last night, Tuck got tangled up in the picket line. He has a rope burn on his left rear pastern. We treated it and although he is sore, he seems okay to ride. He was not hesitant to move, and no hock or stifle injury. My poor pony. In all the years we have been doing this, this is the first time this has happened. A friend loaned me some Bute tabs for Tuck, which really helped.  I will be sure from now on to have them in my tack chest on the rides. 

Borrowed a collar from Karen. They are supposed to be safer than hooking the drop line to the halter. If I like it I will get a couple.

Spent the day laying around camp, relaxing and visiting.

Note on the horse that didn't want to drink:  his owner had put electrolytes in his water and he didn't like it, so it was like he didn't trust her with the water, but he came around eventually.  About the two horses started to go into colic: one they gave a dose of Banamine paste and he was fine;the other I think they gave bute paste and just kept an eye on him and he was fine eventually.   The horse that was overheating:  his owner called her vet, and he suggested taking him OFF the sweet feed, and as soon as she did, he did fine---no more episodes.  He was also on a supplement, I believe, and between that and his hay he did fine.  I pretty much let my horse have all the hay he wants, which averages out to about 1/2 a bale a day. 

Day 5, June 20th, McKinley Camp
On of my favorite camps, easy in and out, nice trees to picket under. Just about 28 miles today. Temps in the 70’s – perfect. Terrain was a lot of hills and steep grades, and lot of riding along the high banks of the Au Sable- very picturesque.

Tucker went very good. No hesitation and no problem moving in spite of his injury. It is still a little tender but as soon as we started moving the swelling disappeared. Kept it at a steady, medium-speed gait almost all day. Today’s ride included a stop at the Curtisville store, for ice cream. A real treat on a warm day.

Day 6, June 21st, Luzerne Camp
Twenty five miles. Low 70’s, sunny and breezy. Lots of hills coming out of McKinley. We tried to take a short cut, which ended up being a long cut. Took it easy, rode with Jodi & Rick and Ken half the day.

The most challenging thing about today’s ride is the Luzerne bridges. It is a long boardwalk over a swampy area with rails on both sides. Not so bad after you have done it a few times, but always a thrill the first couple for horse and rider both.

Day 7, June 22nd, Luzerne Camp
Lay over day. Went into Mio to do laundry and run some errands and top off with diesel. Had a nice day of relaxation. Tucker’s injury is doing much better, no hesitation at all to move.

Got a “lost” button at the meeting for the previous day’s long cut.

Due to an error on the part of the DNR, we will have to share the next Camp with the Michigan Trail Riders Association, another riding group going the opposite direction.

Day 8, June 23rd, Four Mile Camp
Twenty five miles. The day started out cool, the horses were fresh, so we moved right along all the way until lunch. A lot of sandy two-tracks today, nice riding. Jack Pine & Popple.

No problem with finding room in camp.

Tammy rode into camp hollering for help. They had found an arrow on the trail and stuck it side ways thru her horse’s head stall so it looked like her horse had got shot thru the head. They tried to say it was Indians. Pretty funny.


Day 9, June 24th, Goose Creek Camp
Twenty five miles. Started out cool again. Since my husband is here now, I have a rig-jumper and can ride out early. We left at 6:00am and were in camp by 1:00pm with a one hour stop. Terrain was some roads, (good for gaiting). The closer to camp, the deeper the sand and the higher the hills. Hard on tired ponies.

I had a major allergy attack that started at Luzerne. I have come to the conclusion that this ride is a lot more fun when you feel good. But I switched meds and I feel better now.

We rode thru a big stand of Beech today, very pretty.

Day 10, June 25th, Goose Creek Camp
Lay over day. After a big breakfast in camp, we headed into Gaylord to shop and go to lunch. Then this afternoon we went tubing down the Manistee River. It is very hot today so it was very refreshing.

Sat around visiting and relaxing with friends.

Unfortunately, it was pretty dry this year, and since fire danger was up, we weren't able to have as many campfires as we usually do, and besides it was hot most of the time.  We did have a couple, and there is one guy in camp, Kelly by name, that keeps us entertained with guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and also:    the SAW.  Yes, that's right, a saw.  Sounds very eerie.  Also, my son Travis and another gentleman Bill played guitars.  


Day 11, June 26th, Kalkaska Camp
Today’s ride was a blast. Did a lot of laughing. Lots of deep sand early on the trail so we did a lot of walking. Couldn’t make time while it was still cool.

Temps were supposed to be into the 90’s so we rode out at 5:30am. It was almost too dark to see to tack up, but there are just some things you see that time of day that you don’t see when you ride out later. The fog in the tree tops as the sun came up was very pretty.

Day 12, June 27th, Sheck’s Camp
Twenty miles. More deep sand in places. Lots of steep hills. We were in the woods all day which is nice when the sun is out. Temps a little cooler but very muggy. The horses sweat and just drip-nothing evaporates. But Tuck is drinking good and getting his electrolytes.

Rope burn is healing up but two spots starting to rub under the saddle. He is ready for our lay-over tomorrow.

Day 13, June28th, Sheck’s Camp
Lay-over day. Ran in to Traverse City to do some shopping and go to lunch. When we got back to camp, I found a fake rubber bat ,upside down in my refrigerator. Imagine that.

Sat around the fire and relaxed.

Had birthday cake after the meeting for several who had birthdays on the ride and one couple who had their anniversary.

As for food:  within our group we have another sub-group of about 10 people or so that park by each other and ride together.  We have a wonderful system in which we take turns cooking one night for all of us.  It's really nice because you cook once or twice and then you're done.  We eat very well.  You would think on a ride like this a person would drop a few pounds, but it never happens.  Among other things, we  had chicken and homemade noodles, barbequed pork chops that cooked all layover day on the fire,  (they were out of this world), really good sloppy joes, home made spaghetti, we had chop suey, chicken fried rice,   pizza hobo pies and of course hot dogs. 

Day 14, June 29th, Lake Dubonnet Camp
Twenty six miles. Rode out at 6:00am and it was 36 degrees-pretty cold!

Good ride, much easier on the horses when it’s not so hot and muggy.

Negotiated around the busy roads thru Traverse City. Lots of road riding and one BIG hill in deep sand.

Our trail boss, Virginia, has been across the state on this ride forty some-odd times. She has some great stories to tell. One is about the first ride she went on and came back with dents in both sides of her new trailer. She said her husband took one look at it and said, “Just where have you had this thing?” Her answer was, “You just would not believe”--- and it was never discussed again.


Day 15, June 30th, Gerry Lake Camp
Eighteen miles. It was cold enough this morning that I wished I had worn my gloves.

Very nice trail, the first half especially was conducive to gaiting so we made good time.

I can’t believe we are almost done! I don’t want it to be over but at the same time I just want to get my good pony home so he can heal. He works so hard for me and is so willing to go even with his rope burn.

Day 16, July 1, Empire
Nine miles, easy ride.

I am so glad I did not pull my horse from the trophy ride due to his injury. It was touch and go a couple times, but I talked to people in camp who I respect and trust, and who have done this a lot more than me, and the general consensus was --- ride him. The swelling would always go away when he started moving, and there was never any hesitation on his part. On the contrary.

So this trophy was a little harder to get---spent a few sleepless nights worrying about my horse but we got it done.

We had our little problems but all in all it was another great ride. One of the things I like about our club is that help is never very far away, be it a rope burned horse, colicky horse, truck problems, running out of hay, lost shoe, you name it---we are like family and everyone helps each other.

The friendships I have been privileged to make are priceless to me. Can’t wait until next year! We are so blessed in this state to have this trail system and the beauty of the  northern Michigan outdoors to ride in, and it's something a lot of other people in a lot of other states DON'T have.  I am so thankful to be able to do this, and it seems the more I cross the state on my horse, the more I look forward to the next time.  

Jen Pond receives her 5th completion trophy.




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