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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
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    between the barn and the pond
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    14,495

    Default Organized Trail Rides: What works?

    I've been asked to get involved with my state's QH association trail rides. They don't care what kind of horse you ride at one of their rides, they just want riders so it's not like I have to drum up JUST peeps with QHs. Whew! I do a fair amt of trail riding around the state, but haven't attended a ton of 'organized' rides. I go to horse camps and ride of my own accord, for example...

    So- I'm tossing out this question to those of who you attend organized rides...what do you like? What's important to you? What have you seen you didn't care for? Things like....
    • Silent auctions?
    • maybe a speaker or other entertainment at the lunch break?
    • Freebies? goody bags? If so...what do you want in them?
    • What about trail bosses? Do you like the trail boss/leader to lead the group so you can sit back and chat? Or do you want to be left to your own devices?


    I'm not sure about Poker Rides, things of that nature.

    Chime in. I want to hear what would draw you to attend. And what would drive you away.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 26, 2007
    Posts
    1,197

    Default Footing and good markers!

    Well, assuming we can get to the trail ride (we don't have a trailer so I have to always be mooching rides), my priorities are good footing and well-marked trails. I'm usually doing them alone (everyone at my barn is at shows or recovering from shows on the weekends), so I don't want to get lost. :-) I lik to see that there is an option of 15 or so miles, with shorter options just in case. I guess good maps (not that I ever read them), good markers, a snack stop with water for the horses (or, for the country music fans out there, whiskey for the men/women and beer for my horse -- just kidding), and plenty of help at the start (someone to make it perfectly clear where the trail begins, someone to hold my horse if necessary, direct parking, etc.) is nice. Food beyond pizza or home-made sandwiches is a nice perk, as would be fun giveaways and maybe a raffle, but it's mostly about the ride.

    Oh, and definitely no "leader" dictating the speed of the group, forcing all the horses to stay together, etc. I definitely want it to be a "me and my horse" thing, or a ""me, my horse, and a few people/horses of our choosing." Also, I've never even seen a beer at any of the trail rides I've done (damn! :-) ) -- maybe trail rides in this area (New England) just aren't like that. Thankfully. I also haven't seen the yahoo-ing types or the drunk cretin crowd at these rides; I've only seen nice people enjoying their equally happy horses and enjoying getting out on different trails, etc. The rides I've been on have all been pleasure rides; no one's worked up about anything.
    Last edited by SharonA; Nov. 12, 2008 at 08:53 PM.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2005
    Location
    The Land of the Frozen
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    13,787

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine View Post
    • Silent auctions?
    • maybe a speaker or other entertainment at the lunch break?
    • Freebies? goody bags? If so...what do you want in them?
    • What about trail bosses? Do you like the trail boss/leader to lead the group so you can sit back and chat? Or do you want to be left to your own devices?
    I have done a lot of organized rides over the last couple years because it's a great way to get in 15 miles of conditioning and 3 hours of training for my Arab's brain.

    Basically when "I" personally go to an organized ride, all I care about is GOOD MARKED TRAIL. I don't care about auctions or games or speakers. In fact, I've never been to a ride that offered those. Those are very good ideas though for people that enjoy that kind of stuff. But for me, it's all about the riding and the trail.

    Trail boss?! Um, let me see how I can put this.... HELL NO. I did exactly ONE ride with a trail boss, and never again. Frustrating as hell. I want to canter and trot or get in a good gallop whenever I get a clear trail. I don't mind some walking but cripes alive. It took us 4 hours to go 6 miles. Seriously. I had a GPS.

    My horse is very much a "front of the pack" type horse and was not happy being confined to mid-pack with no hope of moving up. I do walk only rides at home a lot and have no trouble, but in THAT sitaution, it's bad because you have drunk idiots riding their horse's nose up your horse's butt for 4 hours. Also it's so much stop and start - stop and start to get the big group packed up again.

    If the group of 200 or so horses got too strung out, the trail boss would stop and wait till everybody was packed up again. Sure, if you're sittin' up on your fat quarter horse sucking down your beers, you might have fun, but you know me kataraine, and that's not how I ride. I swear all I heard that whole ride was "pssssssshhhtt" of beer cans popping open. We got off on the wrong trail and 200 horses then had to turn ON themselves to go back the way we came. It was a mess. *ok, I am truly sorry, rant over.*

    Seriously though, tons of great parking, water readily and easily available in camp, good marked trails, open the trail up on time, cheap entry fee, good organization from parking people to taking money/coggins, etc. Every ride I've done has a halfway point with some type of hotdogs and hamburgers, chips and soda available. Also the porta toilets. We did an organized ride where we ran across wire on the trail in 4 locations. So please make sure to clear trails one last time before ride weekend.

    I enjoy seeing other people in the community that I know, and the pace is slower than an endurance ride which is nice. Just nice moderate paced conditioning for me with beautiful scenery and no real agenda other than to have fun.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2005
    Location
    maryland
    Posts
    5,219

    Default

    What is your #1 goal? Fundraising? Promoting a trail club? Or ??

    That will help guide you in deciding how to organize it, what to charge, and what other things to offer.

    Also consider your target audience: are you looking to get teens into the sport? Adult experienced riders who want a fun training ride? Adult re-rider? Family day out for all ages?



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003
    Posts
    4,626

    Default

    Around here the QH rides are open to all regardless of breed or riding discipline and are fund raisers for some charity or another (which explains the idea of the silent auction/fund raiser thing). They usually start with continental breakfast and end with a pig roast or the like.

    The people organizing the ride to a good job, introduce you to new riding areas (or reintroduce you to old favorites) and raise some money for a local to the trail charity, all of which is good.

    The downside, for me, is that this is a mass ride. Everybody goes in one group with a leader and tailer. My preferance would be for smaller groups spaced out where you could pick faster or slower and shorter or longer
    OR more of a hunter pace where your choice groups go out a few minutes apart.

    But that's the downside for ME, not for everybody and the folks on the rides seem to throughly enjoy themselves.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    Location
    Michigan
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    2,621

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    Trail boss?! Um, let me see how I can put this.... HELL NO.
    MI has a ride with a Trail Boss - she is there all day to help you out. But you leave when you are ready and you ride at your own speed/gait to get to the next camp. So it depends on your definition of Trail Boss. A2 I would hate hate hate that kind of ride too.

    I find it helps if you are sending riders out on one loop to split them up - gaited riders out 1st, stock breeds out 2nd (cuz the gaiteds will blow past the stocks in no time otherwize). And further split to gaited/fast, gaited/slow, stock/fast & stock/slow rides.

    I just like to ride. Hubby likes poker runs on his rides. He needs a reason to go - not me.

    I like food provided - I'm lazy.

    And I like to get lost - I care not if the trails are marked.
    Crayola posse ~ Lazer Lemon yellow
    Take time to give...it is too short a day to be selfish. - Ben Franklin



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 2005
    Location
    central Florida
    Posts
    100

    Default

    Well, I stopped doing those big organized rides when people started getting air-lifted out because of stupid accidents. Problem is, about 75% of the people who show up haven't ridden old Dobbin in a year so they decide to ride the St. Judes ride and Old Dobbin just isn't up for it, mentally or physically. Or they bring their green broke 2 year old stallion for their non-riding neighbor to ride along side their in-heat mare. Or they show up with the hardly broke horse proudly wearning his Parelli halter and just can't figure out why their Parelli'd horse is freaking out at the crowd and they have no control...."but he was perfect at the clinic last week!"

    Or you have kids galloping around the staging area while everyone else's horses are tied to their trailers, trying to eat quietly, but are being constantly spooked by Bubba's kids who are yahooing all over the campgrounds on the wild little pony.

    Then there are the drinkers. God help them. And us. They have no regard for anyone's safety, no consideration for all the people who showed up with their green broke 2 year old stallions, and they love to gallop by and spook the Parelli'd horse who is freaking out and out of control. And they sit there and laugh it up at the unruly kids who are galloping around the parking lot on their pony's....oh wait, it's THEIR kids who are galloping around on the pony and they don't care! Hey, the kids are having fun, the drunks are getting to whoop it up and to hell with the rest of everybody else.

    And the 4 hour, 5 mile loop at a dog walk with all of these lovely folks makes it even more unbearable.

    The best part is when you get back, there's a delicious catered meal, cool drinks and all the drunks pass out in their tents for a while.

    Prizes, raffles and giveaways also make it worthwhile, t-shirts should be included with every entry, but who cares about a band or a speaker. Most people are too drunk to care or listen. Everybody likes giveaways.

    One way to keep it sane and weed out the riff-raff.....require helmets, require kids to have an adult supervisor when mounted and ban alcohol.

    Another suggestion...have a special trail ride just for the kids. If you have to go in groups, have a group for parents and their kids. Give people a choice of going with a trail boss or going out on their own.
    Never Ride Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 13, 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,130

    Default

    We belong to a local riding club, and people are busy so there aren't hordes of us at one time. Anywhere from 6 to 13 riders, average. We generally just walk, although we were lost on the last ride, it was getting late, so we moslty trotted the last hour. Luckily another rider's husband met us and took all the kids to his house before the trotting began. Beer is sometimes involved, not always, but nobody has been obnoxious yet. We try out different trails, or someone sponsors a ride on their land or near their house, and then we'll have a potluck dinner there afterwards. Sometimes camping. This summer about 30 of us went horse camping in MN. On that ride everyone started together and then the trails would branch off and some people would head back and others could go farther.

    I haven't seen the fiasco Kellye describes (but I've heard stories) but I have not gone on the rides where hundreds show up. I am not sociable enough to be around that many people.

    There was a local fundraising ride for hospice which I couldn't attend. That ride had raffles, activities for kids and non riders, a barn dance and dinner, and a few speakers.

    I think it's a good idea to require helmets, but that could potentially decrease attendance. As could the drinking ban. But you can try it and see what happens. I also like the idea of going out in groups based on distance and/or speed, especially if you have a large group.



  9. #9
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    Apr. 17, 2002
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    between the barn and the pond
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    Default

    Great info, keep it coming.

    I definitely need to understand what their goal is, in trying to grow this ride. Last year's benefitted a local school for handicapped people, specifically their riding/hippotherapy programs...but that fact was lost in the marketing.

    I think I have a decent eye for marketing and definitely know/linked up with a ton of riders. Maybe I can make a play for sunkissed acres with the next ride...It's the next state over, so what the hay let's try.

    I'll take your suggestions and run with them. The current rides they host are small, and have a clubby feel to them, it's show people taking a weekend off to trail ride and talk about showing LOL- and that's fine...but that key question...what's the GOAL of this ride? well, that will do me the most good in understanding how to meet that goal

    Thanks!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 8, 2005
    Location
    WA state
    Posts
    1,053

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    I just started doing a few of the organized rides this year and have had a good time so far- I haven't been to any where anyone was drinking-at least not openly!
    The rides we've been on have set up where they just give a time for first rider out and when the last rider can go out. So, we usually just try to get there and go out when it looks like there's a break in the large groups.
    On the last ride it was an 8 or 15 mile ride and we only came upon other riders 3 or 4 times all morning on the 15 mile loop. The trails were in a state park and were really nice and well maintained- and had good sturdy bridges ( I very much appreciated that since my horse had never been across a bridge and has only been off the track for a year- so he isn't a really experienced trail horse).
    The one ride was a fundraiser for the Wa vet school so they had TONS of raffle stuff and a silent auction going on- I didn't win anything but that seemed very popular. Also, I like when they serve some type of food as we usually have to haul quite a ways to get to the rides and by the time I'm back from the trail I am hungry!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 13, 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,130

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    Oh ,if it's for fundraising---the local ride for hospice that I missed charged a $20 entry fee, and then each person got sponsors for the ride. There were two two hour rides on Sat and a 2 hr ride Sunday. And the more money you made from sponsors, the more times your name went in for a saddle, yadda yadda. I'm not sure how much they charged for the extra activities or camping, but I think the dinner was included for riders (maybe) and then anyone not riding had to pay.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2005
    Location
    Va
    Posts
    4,361

    Default

    I've been on several organized rides, one a weekend camping and the rest Poker rides. The Poker rides were organized with a start and finish time, a map was given out to find locations to get your cards. The entry fee also included lunch, and admission to the park. The camping weekend was nice as food and entertainment were included in the price(food included-less I have to pack).Breakfast and dinner was served at the camp area, and lunch was served on the trail. Picket lines were provided so people could get and eat their lunch. They had options for 10, 15, and 20 miles.The entertainment was a band/dance on Saturday night and they had a church service on Sunday am. They also had a photograper out at several places on the trail during the day, so you could also purchase pictures of you on your horse.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep. 15, 2008
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    363

    Default

    I've never done the organized rides like you folks describe. I have attended and even sponsored some Endurance and CTR rides. And while the motivation to attend is different in that these folks are looking for points for the season as well as a good weekend.

    Things that draw people:
    Have a Great Trail. Choose an area with great scenry for the time of year you are riding.
    Choose the appropriate season for the ride. If you are in an area where the Wild Flowers peak the 4th of July, Don't hold the ride in August, when the flowers are past their prime. If the deer flies are terrible in August host the ride in July before the flies arrive

    Have a well marked trail. I always figured if I gave out great maps, people should be able to read them. Not so, most folks are too busy talking, looking around, they never look at their maps and they get lost.

    Have a check in package. It should include the maps, agenda for the weekend, detailing when horses will leave camp, when to expect them back to camp, what time any trail briefings will be held etc. We usually got a few sponsors to send some coupons and sample products that we included in the package. A list of registered attendees ( and their horse or bib numbers)

    We had a program for Newbies to be paired with Mentors to help them get through their first few competitions. Just introducing them to somebody who has done it before and can answer some question during the weekend.

    Good parking if it's an over night camp. Nobody likes to sleep with their head down hill. or their trailer leaning.

    A lot of folks don't want to cook after a long day on the horse. having a organized meal is often appreciated and can be lots of fun. Some entertainment. We often got somebody to read some cowboy poetry, or play a few songs. Sometimes we would get a Rep from a feed company to come discuss feed, supliments. A vet to discuss the latest horse problems like West Nile. State Brand Inspector to discuss travel papers and requirments. The BLM sometimes brought one of their gentled mustangs that they had for adaption and did a show and tell on the mustang herds in our state. Don't make it so busy that folks are over scheduled. But something in the evening is usually apreciated.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2000
    Posts
    1,220

    Default

    There are quite a few organized rides around here. I think having meals included in the entry fee is a really good idea. It seems that most people who do these rides just like to walk and follow a trail boss but I personally dont like to do these types of rides- just too slow. Poker rides are quite popular too.

    I put on a 14 mile Fun Ride along with my CTR each year. The Fun Riders follow the first loop of the CTR a few hours after the CTR riders leave, and they do it at their own pace. The entry fee is $30 which includes a t-shirt, coffee and donuts that AM and a BBQ after the ride, and camping out Friday night if they want to. It is very popular and we usually get about 70 people.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2006
    Location
    Michigan
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    2,621

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kellye View Post
    Well, I stopped doing those big organized rides when people started getting air-lifted out because of stupid accidents. Problem is, about 75% of the people who show up haven't ridden old Dobbin in a year so they decide to ride the St. Judes ride and Old Dobbin just isn't up for it, mentally or physically. Or they bring their green broke 2 year old stallion for their non-riding neighbor to ride along side their in-heat mare. Or they show up with the hardly broke horse proudly wearning his Parelli halter and just can't figure out why their Parelli'd horse is freaking out at the crowd and they have no control...."but he was perfect at the clinic last week!"

    Or you have kids galloping around the staging area while everyone else's horses are tied to their trailers, trying to eat quietly, but are being constantly spooked by Bubba's kids who are yahooing all over the campgrounds on the wild little pony.

    Then there are the drinkers. God help them. And us. They have no regard for anyone's safety, no consideration for all the people who showed up with their green broke 2 year old stallions, and they love to gallop by and spook the Parelli'd horse who is freaking out and out of control. And they sit there and laugh it up at the unruly kids who are galloping around the parking lot on their pony's....oh wait, it's THEIR kids who are galloping around on the pony and they don't care! Hey, the kids are having fun, the drunks are getting to whoop it up and to hell with the rest of everybody else.

    And the 4 hour, 5 mile loop at a dog walk with all of these lovely folks makes it even more unbearable.

    The best part is when you get back, there's a delicious catered meal, cool drinks and all the drunks pass out in their tents for a while.

    Prizes, raffles and giveaways also make it worthwhile, t-shirts should be included with every entry, but who cares about a band or a speaker. Most people are too drunk to care or listen. Everybody likes giveaways.

    One way to keep it sane and weed out the riff-raff.....require helmets, require kids to have an adult supervisor when mounted and ban alcohol.

    Another suggestion...have a special trail ride just for the kids. If you have to go in groups, have a group for parents and their kids. Give people a choice of going with a trail boss or going out on their own.

    Oh yeah, K. I've seen ALL that and more. Last time was at a CMO ....
    ALL of the above, and a timed event to boot.
    Crayola posse ~ Lazer Lemon yellow
    Take time to give...it is too short a day to be selfish. - Ben Franklin



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
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    between the barn and the pond
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    Default

    This isn't a huge ride, or else they'd not be asking me to help drum up riders LOL.

    I think I'll ask the purpose/goal of growing the ride, what if any $$ support AQHA offers, AKA how much can we spend on stuff, what they've done in the last, if we could do the poker ride piece, etc, and volunteer to mark trails and lead groups. There are a few places around the state we could hold this that have full campgrounds, and I think one of them is what we'd be aiming for- with a 'weekend' price with meals and a day rider only price, with lunch included. The turnout in years past has just been pretty low and I want to get a jump on growing it, having the right questions and thoughts in mind.... again I think 'they' who have put them on in the past are more show oriented and the word just isn't getting out very well.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2007
    Posts
    2,458

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    The very best organized trail ride I've ever been on...website here:

    http://www.easternshoretrailride.com/

    has a fabulous history and is a complete sell out each year, and is a benefit ride for the local fire department. As another poster mentioned, yes, there is a 'trail boss'...but this dictates the hard working organizers and those in charge that day----on this ride groups go out when they want within the time span, and each rides as they wish. But the ride is the most successful, best organized I can vouch for.

    I would bet, the contacts would be glad to aid in suggestions if possible.
    ayrabz
    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2002
    Location
    Central Virginia
    Posts
    274

    Default

    I am a co-chairman (along with two others) who organize two benefit rides each year for a local therapeutic riding program. We've been doing this for a number of years. Ours is a weekend ride.

    The things that people rave about at our rides :

    1) We have a variety of trails offered each day. That means more work for us, but it is the biggest draw for riders. In June, on a Saturday, we offer a long ride (23 miles), a medium ride (between 10-15 miles) and a short easy ride for out of shape horses, timid riders, green horses, etc of 5 miles. On Sunday, we have another long ride of about 15 miles, a medium ride (9-13 miles) and the same short ride. In September on a Saturday, we offer a long ride of 17-20 miles, a medium ride ( 10-15 miles) and different short ride of 5 miles. On Sunday, we offer a long ride of about 15 miles, a medium (9-13 miles) and the same short ride of 5 miles.

    2) Lunch on the trail for long trails. Now, our fee includes lunch........but if one is riding the long ride on Saturday, one usually won't get back to the main camp for lunch. So, we set up a second lunch on the trail at the midway point for those riders. So far as we've been told (by people that hit every organized ride on the east coast, lol) very few rides do that. It's a HUGE draw for the longer riders. They don't have to pack anything other than snacks and drinks if they don't want to, it makes sure that people and horses are doing okay (Nearly every year I trailer someone back on the 23 mile ride in June because either the horse or the rider is ready to collapse because they didn't prepare ) and at least made it that far without getting lost, lol, and gives them a chance to rest. They also get what they paid for, since the registration includes lunch.

    3) We mark trails VERY well, including putting up signs at crossroads and intersections. All of our individual trails are color coded to their markers, so there is no confusion as to which one you are on. Some run together for a while and will have several different colored ribbon tapes, then the tapes will split off, etc. Signs are very much appreciated by people to let them know that they are indeed going correctly and to avoid any confusion. We always put markers on the RIGHT HAND side of the trail. This way, if one gets turned around, makes a wrong turn because they are not paying attention, etc, and comes back to the trail, they know which direction to go because markers will ALWAYS be on their right. We put double ribbons a few yards before a turn so that people that are moving out, or talking, are given a heads up that their turn-off is coming up. Everyone is appraised of these facts in the maps and as they leave to go out.

    4) We vary the trails periodically and from year to year so that though one might be riding in the same area and same sections of trails, it is not exactly the same as the year before.

    5) Camping areas are large so that people and horses are not crowded. Most everyone has commented on the nice camping spots (and how they hate being cramped at other rides) and though that does make us have to limit the number of campers, it s a huge draw and we are always more than full, with a long waiting list.

    Since it is a weekend ride (many people get there on Fridays), we do have some other stuff we do, like the silent auctions, a vender or two and on Saturday nights we have a Square Dance and most people participate and appreciate those things, though they are not the most important to people.

    Hope this helps, and good luck. If you have any questions you think I could help with, please feel free to PM me.
    Laura Martlock
    Virginia Horse Council Board of Directors
    Owner of The Mane Street
    Wildwood Farm Lessons and Training



  19. #19
    Join Date
    May. 25, 2003
    Location
    Orlean, Virginia
    Posts
    3,031

    Thumbs up It's all about the food!

    My best suggestion?!! You have to serve good food afterwards and have drinks available. Either at a moderate price or included in the price of the ride. Bag lunches work. Provide a central place to gather & gab! Everyone likes to chat/meet/greet & have fun. If you have leaders; how about providing different speeds/paces for people to choose. Like a walk only group, walk/trot etc. OR different lengths of rides.

    Be SURE to check you clubs liability insurance requirements for club sponsored rides as many REQUIRE helmets or whatever. In Va., the club organizer and/or board can be sued if someone gets injured even tho' they've signed a waiver. Waivers are mandatory in Va. but that doesn't stop some parent from still trying!



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 6, 2003
    Location
    Lapeer, MI, USA
    Posts
    4,075

    Default

    I've attended a variety of organized rides... including the AQHA ones.

    I've seen the riff-raff ones Kellye spoke of (Waterloo Turkey Ride... OMG... I saw a horse and rider WEAVING !! the guy had fallen off several times already. what a SAINT that little paint horse was... )

    I've done the trail leader for several groups... OMG... I have a QH that walks slow, but her Paint had my QH beat at slowness... it was a bad, bad, thing. Some of the horses in our group were GAITED!!

    I've done poker rides. Fun!! At least there's a goal. About a 10-12 mile ride, return to home-cooked/ bring a dish to pass kind of thing, with a speaker. Have lots of prizes for winning hands.

    And... along that line. I've done some other judged rides and only the top rider in each division gets a prize. VERY boring...
    I like the ones where everyone has to wait around and eat and mingle and care for their horses until the last group come in and then winners are announced.

    I've organized SUPER successful St Jude Rides (Top 5 in the country in $$$ raised for 5 years) - again with many, many things donated and multiple awards and prizes... I had local barn rats as "groomers" to get horses ready for the people working the ride; 2 - 4 would ride with an adult in a van along the roads that we rode for those particular rides. Handing out water, holding horses while riders used the ... porta-potty in the bed of a pick up truck that I would get local dealerships to donate. !!! Very funny to see the POP in the back of a pickup headed down back roads. Mounting step to get to the bed of the PU.

    Also - county sherrifs at critical intersections. Enlisted the aid of local Army Reserve MP unit!! They would come set up tents, tables, and chairs (we'd let them bring family) they would help unload bales of hay for the mid-ride break. Food donated, prizes donated, t-shirts for helpers, prizes for top $$ pledgers ...

    And another SUPER successful set of rides with overnight camping the night before, and a judged ride during the day. Points awarded in graduated amounts depending on horse & rider completeness of obstacles.
    Trophies and prizes, plus many many prizes given away using tickets. Riders could earn tickets from their ride or buy them. I think if I held 20 tickets, I usually had at least 2 prizes and I'm NOT lucky!! ha ha ha..
    That ride raised over $5000 a year. Each rider received a T-shirt and deluxe ribbon.

    Essentially, the best rides allowed groups to go out spaced a few minutes apart. Marked trails and maps were provided. Stringent rules about ground etiquette... no drinking on trails, Briefings beforehand about trail etiquette (how to pass, ask permission to go faster, what red ribbons meant, what green ribbons in horse tails meant, etc. ) Persons were required to read rules and sign.
    Children ONLY when accompanied by adult who was responsible for them.
    Helmets... that's a tough call. If it's public land... enh... if it's private land - then I think you can require it.

    IRH was VERY generous during the St Jude Rides... they donated 6 helmets each year of our rides. We used them as prizes to top pledge earners. It was a GREAT way to get more folks to wear them.

    Provide receipts for those who pay a flat fee to participate in any charity rides. That's my biggest gripe about some rides. I hand over $25 cash and get a $5 T-shirt only suitable for a wet-t-shirt contest (and it doesn't even need to be wet!!!) and an overcooked hot dog. SUCK SUCKS SUCKS. I'd rather hand over $20 and bring my own lunch.

    I like the challenge of pledges myself. : ) and a good OR FUNNY judged ride!!



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