I let my trusty endurance friend know I was available to do something horsey and she decided that we should go camping at Whitewater State Park. Located in Liberty Indiana this state park features something for everyone. It contains Whitewater Lake, access to Brookville Reservoir, hiking, swimming fishing, and horseback riding trails. There are over 300 camping sites, some with electric and some without as well as 37 primitive horse camping spots. For folks not in the know, primitive means no electric hook ups for your trailer and in this case pit toilets.
It seemed like almost everyone had also decided that this was a great weekend to camp, in addition to the regular camp being chock full of happy campers, people in the horseman's camp even had extra vehicles equipped with boats. Something for everyone in the family.
The only downside to a busy camping weekend were all the people. Not everyone is considerate about following park rules, such as keeping your dog ON A LEASH. People also like to play their country music as loud as possible. I will also NEVER understand why people on gaited horses insist on racking them around camp on the asphalt as fast as they will go. Besides that we really had a great time.
There is one horse trail in a loop, making it impossible to get lost (cough, some people I know would find this a bonus cough). There are probably 1/2 dozen small creek crossings and one large creek crossing and plenty of hills as well as flat stretches. There were several areas that were graded with gravel and large rocks so I'd suggest boots if your horse has flat feet or feet in progress or shoes. Stella came up with a bruise on the second day, cutting our second ride short.
There are no stalls at this facility, so your horse needs to tie to a hitching rail overnight or you need a spot with the ability to highline. Trusty friend is an endurance rider so she had her trusty electric corral, which gave us the option of not leaving our horses tied overnight.
This picture shows some of the setup of the corral which is a Zareba Electric Corral (shop around for the best price).We used the hitching rail to divide the corral into two separate "stalls." Stella is used to electric fence but has never been in a corral before so I was a bit concerned. It is a small area and only one strand of tape, but I had nothing to worry about as Stella stayed put all night.
This picture is a bit of blackmail, Twigs has never been known to groom another horse being the alpha mare but she was caught on multiple occasions grooming Stella.
Stella is posing here to show you a close up of the corner posts. Each post was a sturdy sleeve with little feet that you stamped into the ground, then anchored with tent stakes. This way you can string the fence fairly tight and not have it flapping in the breeze. You can also see the self contained electric charger, powered by batteries to keep the horses away from the fence. This system does not need a ground rod sunk as it is built into the tape. The tape rolls up into 4 little cubes that sit on top of the main posts, and there are also standard t posts to add extra support. The entire fence took about 20 minutes to set up (longer than normal due to the odd shape of the area to work in) and comes in a carry bag.
Here's a video showing the initial setup, you can leave some of these things hooked together to make it faster to set up.
Overall I'd rate Stella's trail experience as "green but improving" She's navigating hills going up better, picking her path more carefully, and even sat on her butt a few times going down hill. She's also crossing water without hesitation, including the big creek which was up to her belly. She lead most of the way, mostly because Twigs is the slowest arabian on the planet. Her ancestors would be ashamed.
Stella in the big creek, eating. She got two compliments on her "hat" today.
Stella also did lots of trotting in front, and even discovered her trail trot. She pulled a little bit but was fairly easy to rate back, and if I was in a runaway situation I know a NO HORSES ALLOWED sign would bring her screeching to a halt. Leave it to a horse to spook at the unnatural things in the nature. We even found a good spot of footing and went for a little hand gallop. I think she struggles in the arena because her natural canter is very big and rolling and she can't package it at home.
There were still several places where Stella got "stuck" and I had to go to my whip or have Twigs pass us. It was worse on day two, when I know she was a bit tired, and when she balked going back into camp (at someone packing their trailer) and I whacked her she popped up in front.
She stayed sound on her scratches infested legs, and I was sure to hose them off throughly after each ride, let them dry carefully, and then avoid her kicking while I applied the ointment which seems to be working well.
She did come up with a bruise on day two, her feet are still kind of flat and splatty and she hit a lot of rocky parts. She was %100 sound without rocks and trotted out strong so I don't think it's serious. I might try boots if we went here again, or see if improved hoof quality helps out.
Overall it was a great weekend, and Stella proved to be a good camper. Her friendship with Twigs was made permanent and they both vowed to call each other often.
Stella on the ride home, still eating.
Twigs, trying her grumpy look