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OREA News & Events

Check out all the fun we get up to here at OREA. From judged trail rides and social events to trail projects and bonfires, there's an activity for everyone. Come join the fun!

OREA Was At the Michigan Horse Expo
March 8-10, 2024

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I want to give a BIG thank you to our volunteers this weekend at the Michigan Horse Expo table! All our board members took there turns….thank you Robin Bobek, Lise Mouthaan, Vera Kraft, Steve Keim and my amazing Husband Scott Cope who is always by my side!! Also a big thank you to Tracie, Lisa and to Beth (who actually just became a member on Friday)!! And a BIG shout out to Donna Maria for coaching us and making us so many BEAUTIFUL things to give away and make so many people smile!!! We had an amazing weekend and met so many wonderful people! We cant wait to see where this year will lead us!

Dawn Cope

OREA President

We got to have a wonderful time at the Michigan Horse Expo this weekend - meeting so many people and talking to them about horseback riding and Ortonville Recreation Area / Hadley Hills. In the process, we welcomed 13 new members (12 memberships - 11 personal and 1 family). Many were already Facebook members who formally became paying OREA members. That increases us to 66 memberships overall. We also talked with hundreds of others about their horses and where they like to ride - and what else they like to do! Thank you to everyone who took the time to come and visit us!!!

Steve Keim

OREA Treasurer

Here's Some of What We Gave Away

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OREA Expo Swag Horse Keychain.jpg
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Donate to Your Favorite OREA Project!

Of course we want to provide you with the opportunity to contribute to your favorite OREA Project. OREA and the DNR do the work - we just use your money to make it happen! Watch for the corresponding Work Bee and you can help there too - or just enjoy your entertainment dollars at work! 

Click on the picture to download the donation demo. It is totally worth it! (Technology is wonderful, but sometimes it requires workarounds!)

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Michigan Horse Expo Financials

14 new Memberships – 13 personal & 1 family; 3 via Stripe - $287.26

Donations - $134.02 - $75 for corrals, $59.02 general; PLUS Donation from Horsehoodies valued at $49.99

Picture raffle - $20

Merchandise sales - $47 – 1 tumbler, 1 set of books

Expenses - $205.90 – Table $65; Materials $140.90

Net proceeds related to Expo - $235.38 + margin on merchandise + Horsehoodies donation

Smiles – hundreds!!!!  Only a couple of people came away from our table not smiling!!!

Thank You Shiawassee Trail Riders!!!!!

On January 27, 2024 four members of the OREA Board of Directors attended the annual meeting of the Shiawassee Trail Riders )STR). STR is a long-time sponsor of OREA, contributing thousands of dollars over the years. In 2023 the donation was $700, so we had Scott develop a presentation of how their donation made a difference to what we were able to accomplish on the trails and in the campground and day use area last year. We also shared OREA's vision for 2024. For 2024, we received a donation of $500. This makes a big difference in what we can do in 2024 and we are greatly appreciative.

Full disclosure - we weren't just at the meeting because we were thanking Shiawassee - all of us that were in attendance are also members of Shiawassee Trail Riders. Shiawassee Trail Riders is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been around since 1961. We were honored and pleased that one of the original members was in attendance. You may have also noticed that we posted pictures from 2002, 2003, and 2008 of campouts / rides that Shiawassee Trail Riders held at the Ortonville Recreation Area / Hadley Hills.

Info About STR From Our Sponsors & Donors Page

Shiawassee Trail Riders Association (STR) shares friendship, horseback (and mule) riding, campfires and potlucks throughout Michigan and beyond. They help other riding associations that work on trails, who provide youth opportunities to learn about horses, and various other non-profit equine assistance programs.

Camping destinations are determined by where members want to go. In 2023, STR camped at Ortonville / Hadley Hills, Waterloo, Elk Hill Group Camp, Black Lake Trail Camp, Heritage Hills, Bay de Noc / Grand Island Trail, Pine Marten Run, Luzerne, South Branch, and Timber Ridge & Bandy Creek in the Big South Fork in Tennessee. You can help choose future destinations.

 

You must be a paying member of Shiawassee Trail Riders to join/belong to their Facebook group. Send any questions about Shiawassee Trail Riders to OREA.Treasurer@gmail.com. If you are interested in joining Shiawassee Trail Riders, there is a 2024 Membership application on the Sponsors and Donors page.

OREA Board Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes Moved to Board Meetings Page!

Pinckney Trail Riders Work Bee Trip Report 
November 11, 2023

McLeod

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Pulaski

Your Board Members Hard at Work!!!

Pinckney Day Use Area

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On Saturday November 11th, four members of the OREA Board of Directors – President Dawn Cope, Vice President Vera Kraft, Treasurer Steve Keim, and board member Scott Cope along with OREA member Amy Sharman loaded up tools and went to the Pinckney State Recreation Area Equestrian to help with Pinckney Trail Riders Association’s scheduled work bee and to learn about what the Pinkney Trail Riders Association is doing with their trails. This aligned with the part of our mission to “work in partnership … with other equestrian associations” and the guides: - Be a helpful partner with the DNR and other Equestrian Associations. - Develop friendly and cooperative relationships with other Equestrian Associations and fellow - equine enthusiasts. - Promote, support, and earn the respect of other Equestrian Associations. Amy Scharman is a member of the Equine Trails Subcommittee (ETS) and Vice President of the Pinckney Trail Riders Association (PTRA) and invited us to the work bee when camping at Ortonville. Amy is also an OREA member. Dianne Martin is President of PTRA. The goal of the work bee was to finish up a section of “sustainable trail” to replace a section of trail that had washed out in the 15-mile Pinckney trail system. Utilizing tools including shovels, rakes, loppers, McLeods, and Pulaskis. With a large contingent of volunteers (15 to 20 people) and DNR personnel, we were able to sustainably clear the section of trail down to the gravel bed along the hillside. If training becomes available for sustainable trail maintenance, it would be good for us to participate along with some of the DNR folks. (It is hard work!) We were able to learn quite a bit about creating and maintaining a sustainable trail. Minimum and maximum cross slopes and running slopes are important to create a trail that drains well and reduces the amount of erosion. It was nice to see two members from the local mountain bike association there helping. Maybe we should consider how we can partner with the hunters, hikers and snowmobilers who use the trails in Ortonville. We were surprised and encouraged to find that PTRA has over 150 members. We talked a lot with Dianne Martin PTRA President about how they got so many members and how they retain them. Dianne mentioned that she puts a membership application on the windshield of vehicles in the day use area. They also have several events that get the members involved that are noted below. One interesting thing about PTRA is that they have created an Adopt-a-Trail program to ensure that trails remain in great shape for riders. Volunteers are designated to be responsible for clearing back overgrowth on a specified area of trail. They also can choose to care for the downfall or not, this is not a requirement for Adopt-a-Trail. PTRA mows all the trails. Note that these are volunteers choosing a section of trail to maintain, not assignments of sections of trail. If we were to put this concept out to our audience, we might be pleasantly surprised at the response. PTRA has 14 business members (sponsors) who have contact information on their Sponsors page. The business membership is $30 and they are listed on the PTRA Web site and have the opportunity to put out an ad on the PTRA Facebook site once a month. PTRA has a Flower Fundraiser, a Spring Fling Banquet in combination with the Brighton Trail Riders Association, a Blessing of the Horse with a Ride to Hell and Back, and a Cheesecake Fundraiser. (Ionia had a Chili Cookoff). For the Flower fundraiser and the Cheesecake Fundraiser, they make arrangements with a professional vendor and coordinate the sale and delivery. For their apparel sales, they work with a local seamstress and everything is ordered through them so PTRA does not have to maintain inventory. However, they only make a few dollars per item. We might want to look into the fundraiser concept. We also may wish to explore other approaches to OREA wearables that do not require us to maintain an inventory or be physically present for people to buy. After the work bee, Steve and Vera checked out the day use staging area. It consisted of an open gravel-covered parking area about 300 feet by 125 feet (including some grass fringe where trailers were parked. The space was nearly level with a slight slope for run-off and was tree-free. (This is similar to what we observed at Ionia.) There was a tree buffer between the day use area and the road with a single entrance/exit. There was a pit toilet, a pavilion, and a couple of mounting blocks. We would probably have a better benefit from this type of approach over trying to do something within the current circle drive in the day use area that better serves our current user base as we transition away from them using the campground for day use – if not as the immediate plan, then certainly as a future phase. We may be able to survey our Facebook audience to see if we can get audience participation to reduce the cost of this type of plan, e.g. find a member with a skidsteer to do leveling or a dump truck to move gravel. We need to find out if we have access to gravel from the DNR. It would also be good to find out what the conditions are on the power line easement to the east of the Staging Area. Pinckney does not have a DNR-affiliated equestrian campground. Camping is available nearby at the private Hell Creek Campground and horses can be kept overnight at the Horse Hotel facility within the Hell Creek Equestrian Center.

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Ionia Kiosk

Ionia Horse Trail Association Work Bee Trip Report
November 4, 2023

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Ionia Confidence Course Trail Elements

Ionia Warm-up Paddock next to Day Use Area

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On Saturday November 4, four members of the OREA Board of Directors – President Dawn Cope, Vice President Vera Kraft, Treasurer Steve Keim, and board member Scott Cope loaded up tools and went to the Ionia State Recreation Area Equestrian Campground to help with Ionia Horse Trails Association’s scheduled work bee and to learn about what Ionia is doing with their trails and campground. This aligned with the part of our mission to “work in partnership … with other equestrian associations” and the guides: - Be a helpful partner with the DNR and other Equestrian Associations. - Develop friendly and cooperative relationships with other Equestrian Associations and fellow - equine enthusiasts. - Promote, support, and earn the respect of other Equestrian Associations. Steve is also a member of Ionia Horse Trails Association (IHTA) and noticed the work bee in the most recent meeting minutes. The goal was to set up corrals on 4 more campsites, replace some short picket posts, and do some maintenance on the confidence course. We also helped remove some small stumps on a new trail section. Our board members used the opportunity to chat with IHTA President Kristie Walls and some of the other attendees about their trail system and campground. The corrals on the camp sites were a combination of wood corrals with metal gates and metal corrals with interlocking panels. The four we set up were metal corrals with two corrals that were adjacent one-panel squares sharing a central panel. The sites were prepped the previous day using a skid steer owned and operated by one of their members. Due to insurance requirements ($500,000 policy required by DNR regulations), they were not able to hire the work done. The base was 1-2 inch diameter stone installed on top of the original grade then covered with a fabric material and topped with 6 inches of 21AA road gravel. This configuration allows liquids to pass through easily through the stone layer and drain off away from the corrals. Keeping the corrals solid and easy to clean. Some of the corrals have been there for over a year and still look solid and clean even through heavy rain events. Panels were assembled quickly with forks on the tractor used to carry the panels to each site. With the numerous hands participating, each set of corrals took less than 15 minutes to assemble. As a security measure, each panel group will be anchored with a 10-foot metal rod driven into the ground through one of the panel fasteners and will be secured with multiple RV tie-downs. Each site with a corral set also has 3 picket posts to accommodate high lines. We were supposed to replace five picket posts. We were only able to do three because of equipment issues with the post hole auger on the tractor. Posts were buried to a depth of about 42 inches (with the hand digging done by Vera). We then moved on to the confidence course and trimmed back branches and removed downed limbs from the course path. Obstacles included: - A mailbox - Two covered tractor tires - A circle of logs radiating from a central point for horses to step over - Cavalettis - A log frame with alternating logs angled from on top of one side of the frame with the other end on the ground. - L-shaped wood steps going around a large tree. - A pickle barrel mounted on a swinging gate. We also walked out to their day use parking. It was basically a large gravel rectangle area. It would probably be a practical longer-term solution for our staging area to accommodate more and larger rigs. There is a large paddock adjacent to the day use area made of the same type of panels as the metal corrals for use in warming up or exercising horses in an enclosed controlled area. If we had room, that would be a good addition, so people have an appropriate place to lunge their horses away from the campground or staging/day use area.

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Big South Fork Trip Report

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4 members of the OREA Board of Directors took a trip to Big South Fork in Tennessee, President Dawn Cope, Vice President Vera Kraft, Treasurer Steve Keim, and Scott Cope. We stayed at two different camps: Timber Ridge – a privately owned campground, and Bandy Creek – a publicly owned campground in a National River and Recreation Area. This report will focus on observations from the campgrounds and the trails that may be germane to the campground, day use area, and trail system. The campgrounds we stayed at were on land that was uneven, being located in hilly, rocky areas. However, the individual campsites were relatively level from side-to-side, i.e. the trailer wheels were level in the space with little or no adjustment. At Timber Ridge, the trailer parking sites were on a gravel pad. At Bandy Creek, the trailer parking sites were on a cement pad. The pads at both sites had a variety of slants front-to-back. At Timber Ridge the front-to-back slope on the initial site for the Copes would not accommodate the angle necessary for their trailer’s ground clearance and length. We may wish to install some type of consistent trailer pad in the campground to facilitate consistent parking areas that are relatively level. For those of us with refrigerators in our trailers, it is important that the trailer is level for proper operation. It is also easier to park and pull out when the area where the trailer is parked is well defined and solid (as well as level). The layout of a site to handle a large trailer at Bandy Creek had a paved parking pad 11.5 feet wide and 50 feet long. There was a level gravel pad adjacent to the trailer parking area measuring 24 feet wide and 42 feet long offset to the back of the parking area by 9 feet. The fire pit was 17 feet from the parking area and 15 feet from the front of the gravel pad. There was a 9-foot buffer to the neighboring site accommodating water and 30-amp electric hookup. (Pressurized water and 30-amp RV electricity was available at both campgrounds – which was wonderful.) There was also a picnic table on the gravel pad. The site number was near the front corner of the gravel pad nearest the parking pad. We may wish to establish some type of consistent layout of our campsites. Our horses were stalled at Timber Ridge near our campsites and we were able to tack them up at our horse trailers. We also rented a turnout to allow the horses some freedom at times of our choosing, which made it easier to clean the stalls. Water was available to fill buckets at the stalls. Hay was available for purchase. Having some type of turnout / round pen may be something we might want to pursue. At Bandy Creek, the horses were kept across the street in a separate stable area. Once again, a combination of stalls and turnouts were used. Horses could not be brought on site where the trailer was parked – you had to bring your tack to the horses. Water was available to fill buckets at the stalls. Running water available without pumping is fantastic and would make our campground more attractive to campers. Having the horses secure in stalls allowed us to pursue some local sightseeing without worrying if the horses were escaping or putting themselves at risk on a high line. Both Timber Ridge and Bandy Creek had dump systems to empty your tanks for people staying there. While it probably will not be feasible to have a dump station on site, it would be a positive if campers could use a dump station within the Hadley-Metamora park complex. Timber Ridge had a confidence course that we took advantage of. We also noted a number of other campers taking advantage of it. Trail markings in the Bandy Creek section managed to confuse us, with trails not necessarily matching maps we had and inconsistent signage. At both Timber Ridge and Bandy Creek, some of the trails were gravel or limestone roads. At Timber Creek, the roads included parts of equestrian communities. Timber Ridge had 501(c)(3) organizations maintaining trails with regularly scheduled work bees posted on signs within the trail area they maintained. Trails at Bandy Creek were 5 to 8 feet wide and trail surface ranged from sand to gravel to rock to limestone. Interestingly, in areas trails were widened to a standard width with a blade and established contours below the trail sides. One of the approaches to moving water off of the sloped areas of the trail was to build a berm about 2 feet above the trail grade and slope it off to the downhill side, then cut through the bank to the uphill side of the berm to allow the water to run off down the slope. In other places, timbers were angled with the cut banks sometimes faced on the uphill side with a cut piece of rubber. We may wish to try the berms initially in the area on the slopes near the campground. Some of the water crossings had interlocking cement “triangles” about 6 inches thick that looked like stamped concrete. Other areas had slabs of concrete. Some of the water crossings had the stream bed lined with concrete bars that could be strung together to allow vehicles to cross. Some of the bridges we encountered had timbers along the sides (like telephone poles) and then the bridge decking was covered with soil so it did not feel like a bridge to the horses. The soil surface bridge may be an approach for our bridge between markers 3 & 4. We may also want to look at some type of solution for the water crossing by the bridge for park vehicles.

Dawn & Vera BSF
BSF Bandy Creek
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