With so many local riding areas still closed because of the hurricane, a friend and I decided to try the Marshall Hampton Reserve off Thornhill Road whose trails had been reported open. That report was–shall we say?–slightly exaggerated….
Both of the automated gates leading into Panther Point were damaged, and had to be opened by hand. That wasn’t a big deal. But once we got across the bridge, there were numerous trees down across the trail. Most were fairly easily navigated, but there were 2 areas that most horses would not willingly cross. We WERE able to get through (not without some scratches on the riders and anxiety in the horses), but couldn’t make it to the end of the trail because of a huge tree going from the lake all the way to the water on the east side.
The Osprey Overlook Loop was completely clear. The Acorn Hammock Loop looked promising as we started to ride, with a few horseflies to keep us company. The few trees and limbs that were down were easily navigable. But as we neared the end of the loop–and of course wanted to return to the parking lot–we encountered a fair amount of water…which, when we got to the “dip” where the footbridge sits, turned into between 3 and 4 feet of water. The bridge was floating belly-up in the weeds.
So, as my boots, saddle, girth and pad dry out in the air conditioning, I consider the ride today a wonderful way to begin the Fall riding season. After all, everybody made it back to the trailers safe and sound and got a good successful lesson on our teamwork, trust and confidence along the way.