Dealing with the cold weather and all this snow had me daydreaming about the summer. Longer days, warmer temperatures and trail riding all day. For my friend Nicky’s birthday this past year, I decided to take her up to Horse Country Campground for a girls weekend. I had been to this campground a few years ago for a clinic and had been wanting to go back to explore more of the trails.
The drive took us roughly five hours so it’s definitely not a day trip if you are coming from southwestern Ontario (but it is definitely worth the drive. The only downside to this place is that the trails are basically unrideable if there is a lot of rain. The trails are mostly clay and rock so they get very slippery when wet. We booked this trip back in April for August so there was no way to anticipate what the weather was going to do. Unfortunately, even though Ontario experienced one of the driest summers, it had to rain the entire weekend we had booked.
All dressed up to ride in the rain, complete with water pistol!
We arrived in the early afternoon so there wasn’t a lot of time to get out on the trails before dark after setting up camp so we played around on the obstacle course that is set up. There are all sorts of obstacles and at different levels of difficulty. It was great to see the improvements and additions to the course since the last time I was there.
We did manage to get out on the trails for a bit the first full day we were there. The plan was to ride to the swimming hole and take the horses swimming then continue on to find this little tiki bar which boasted free beer (pretty good incentive for a long ride!) The swimming hole was quite easy to find. There were a few picnic tables, a place to tie the horses and a place to go to the washroom. The footing into the water was great and it was very inviting. The views were incredible as well! It was a little chilly with the sprinkling of rain but this would be a fantastic spot to go and cool down after a long ride.
Taking a swim on horseback!
On to the tiki bar! While meant for the whitewater rafters after their jaunt down the river, we were told we would be welcomed there as well. While the staff had given us pretty good directions the day before, the map doesn’t show individual trails so coming to forks or open spaces led to a bit of confusion. We did see some signs for the tiki bar but upon arriving at the rafting resort, the signs stopped and no one we asked knew where the bar was. Oh well. The rain was starting to come down a little heavier now so we decided to make our way back to the campsite.
The rain was even worse our second full day there so after breakfast, we headed out for a drive. The town of Renfrew is a short drive away so if you are in need of any extra supplies or are looking for something to do on a rainy day, this is an option. There are also many activities on the resort to do (although they would have been much more fun in better weather: a beach, hot tub, pool, recreation centre, bungee jumping, restaurant and bar, white water rafting just to name a few.)
The staff at Horse Country Campground is very friendly and helpful. The reservation was easy to set up, checking in was a breeze, and since it was a quiet weekend there, we were given new pens to put the horses in when the ones they were in got too soupy from the rain. The pens are quite large but if you have two horses that don’t know each other or don’t get along, you will have to either get a site with two pens or bring your own. There are water taps at the sites but I recommend bringing a hose with you as it makes it easier to fill water buckets.
I still have to ride to the brew pub so there will definitely be another trip to visit Horse Country Campground! It is worth the drive but perhaps next time I will book closer to the date to avoid any weather-related disappointments!
About the Author: Ashley Tomaszewski is a Canadian endurance rider who is up to try anything once! Ashley and her pinto mare “Splash” have done everything from hunter/jumper to skijoring to foxhunting and riding with the Canadian Cowgirls drill team. Taking up endurance in 2014, the pair have over 700km in competition, winning awards every year and won the 2016 Ontario Championship in the sport of ride n tie with Ashley’s younger brother Alex. Ashley loves sharing her adventures with others and exposing new people to distance riding by contributing to the Eat Sleep Ride Repeat blog.
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