NORTA BOARD MEMBERS THRILLED WITH NEW ADDITION … Shown on the Mounting Block are board members Randy Miller, Patti Gehring, Bonnie Markley, Bob Apger along with Hope Russell and her horse Bella. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
Just three tenths of a mile south of St.Rt. 20A, the Wabash Cannonball Trail cuts across Williams County Road 17. On the Southeast corner of that intersection lies an updated opportunity for those who love to go horseback riding. The trail has been used for years by hikers, bikers, joggers and other nature lovers, but has not been as conducive to horse back riding as some would wish.
NORTA (Northwest Ohio Rails to Trails Association) board members, especially Williams County resident Randy Miller, have been in communication with area equestrians to find out what they need to help make the amazing trail more welcoming for them.
On a cold but sunny Saturday morning, December 21, 2019, around fifteen vehicles including two who were hauling horse trailers, emptied their occupants into the gravel/stone parking lot next to that section of the trail.
The parking lot is tiered with a section for just cars at the top, a short, slanted drive down and a second parking lot big enough to turn around with a horse trailer, to unload horses and to park vehicles and trailers while riders are out on the trail.
Everyone gathered next to the newest addition to the trail, a brand new Mounting Block for mounting and dismounting before heading out for the day or after a nice ride through the wooded trail. Three groups were well represented, despite the biting cold.
Of course, NORTA board members who are responsible for 32 miles of the Wabash Cannonball trail through Williams, Henry and part of Fulton County, were there.
The other two groups were Defiance Cub Scouts from Troop #75 along with their parents and leaders, and the Defiance County Chapter of Ohio Horseman’s Council who sponsored and financed the new equipment. All were gathered to dedicate it for the use of all horse lovers who have been wishing for a new place to ride.
Troop 75 took the materials provided by the Horseman’s Council and along with their Webelos Den Leader, Paul Frank, 2nd and his dad Paul Frank, they built a large, beautiful Mounting Block with steps going up both ends and a rustic railing behind it which keeps the horses from moving sideways while riders are mounting or dismounting.
The new equipment is set up and ready to use, which the three riders, who came prepared with their horses, demonstrated that morning. Following many pictures and a very few words from Miller thanking everyone for their part in the terrific addition, the group stood around in small groups discussing what else they can do to make it even better.
A couple of the ideas that were excitedly shared were the possibilities of hitching posts so that riders don’t tie up their horses to the mounting block and a sign near the entrance that states who has been involved in the endeavor. While cub scouts ran around playfully in the cold, the adults couldn’t seem to get enough of the excitement in the air, and chatted as long as they could handle the cold.
It is not recommended that riders use the trails during hunting season as it is dangerous, especially if your horse is brown. No one wants to be mistaken for a deer! But as soon as hunting season is over, those who were there can hardly wait to get back and enjoy some meandering on their big beautiful beasts down the snow laden trails.
And of course, in the coming warmer seasons, the draw will be great. Other places along the trail to load and unload horses are located in Delta, Elmira and West Unity. While out on the trails, riders are encouraged to share the space lovingly with other riders, bikers, hikers and joggers.
For those who are unaware, this section of the Wabash Cannonball is now part of North Country Trail, the longest continuous hiking trail in the U.S. During the warmer months, there are hikers from all over the country and the world who will be passing through the area.
How wonderful that now they can even use this portion of the trail with horses. The brass plaque on the new Mounting Block will let them know just who is responsible for this excellent new piece of equipment on the trail.
Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com