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Outdoors

The Ohio Horseman's Council has your (horse)back

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    The Ohio Horseman's Council has more than 4,000 members across 70 of Ohio's 88 counties, including Lorain and Cuyahoga.

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    Chronicle outdoors columnist Brad Zahar rides a horse on a group trail ride with the Cuyahoga County Chapter of the Ohio Horseman's Council at the South Chagrin Reservation.

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    Chronicle outdoors columnist Brad Zahar gets to know his horse, Justin, before taking him on a group trail ride with the Cuyahoga County Chapter of the Ohio Horseman's Council at the South Chagrin Reservation.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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With 1,650 miles of bridle trails in over 100 locations, Ohio has a lot to offer those who like to horseback ride. While the riding trails are distributed throughout the state, much of the local real estate available for riding comes thanks to the Ohio Horseman’s Council (OHC).

The OHC, whose motto is “horsemen helping horsemen,” has more than 4,000 members across

70 Ohio counties committed to providing the best trails and experience possible for riders.

Started in 1972, the council began as a grassroots group of trail riders. It partnered with land owners and parks to establish bridle trails locally and statewide.

Penny Passalacqua, President of the Cuyahoga County OHC, works with the Cleveland Metroparks to help improve bridle trail access and maintain great riding in seven of its reservations.

“We want to help men and women care for the Cleveland Metroparks,” said Passalacqua. “We’ve donated money to the trails and help make improvements to their trailheads.”

In addition to Cleveland Metroparks, Passalacqua and the Cuyahoga County OHC work closely with neighboring park systems such as Lorain and Lake counties to help create good trails and conditions for all horse enthusiasts.

“We all enjoy being out in nature,” said Passalacqua.

In the Cleveland Metroparks, a park system associated with the urban area that is Cleveland, there are areas so scenic and remote in nature, it doesn’t feel like you’re in suburban Cleveland.

“We can be on bridle trails and feel like we are in the middle of nowhere,” Passalacqua said.

One of those scenic trail rides took place last weekend as the Cuyahoga County riders hosted a group ride in the South Chagrin Reservation. Beginning at the Polo Fields in Moreland Hills, about 45 showed up to ride about 10 miles through the bridle trails throughout the reservation.

During the riding season, which in Northeast Ohio runs from April to October, OHC chapters have group rides pretty regularly across the 70 chapters in the Buckeye State.

“We love to mentor new riders and new horse owners and have presentations every month to educate,” Passalacqua said. “We are very safety conscious and ride to the skill of those who are least experienced.”

For longtime enthusiasts like Passalacqua, who has ridden over 25,000 miles, riding and being involved with the local riding community is essential to keeping things going into the future.

“We want to pass on good stewardship,” she said. “We have 165 members in the Cuyahoga County chapter, and we always want to help men and women care for the Cleveland Metroparks.”

In Lorain County, the OHC chapter meets on the third Monday of each month at Carlisle Visitor Center in LaGrange. It also has events and rides throughout the area, just like its Cuyahoga County counterpart.

The passion and interest in horses and riding throughout Northeast Ohio is really special. In an area with so many miles of bridle trails and great scenery in the midst of an urban region, caring and collaborating with fellow horse enthusiasts is an important part of a very tight-knit community that plays a large part in preserving and protecting the wonderful resources we have.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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