PINEVILLE — A cold, frosty Saturday morning late in October turned into the perfect fall afternoon for the inaugural trail ride of a group of over 50 people on 37 horses, horse drawn carts and wagons.
Although they hesitate to call themselves a saddle club just yet, there are several enthusiastic horse owners involved who also plan to come together for a ride in the spring.
Adventure Tourism Director Jon Grace is pleased to add horseback riding to the list of attractions offered in Bell County. “The goal of adventure tourism in Bell County has always been to construct a multi-faceted model… to where people who enjoy our beautiful outdoors can do so in many different ways,” Grace said.
Though ATV riders have almost exclusively used the Wilderness Trail Off-Road Park for the past several years, the ATV riders on the park that Saturday were extremely respectful and seemingly happy to share the terrain.
“The ATV riders were super respectful, pulling off the trail when they met the horses, they turned off their machines and removed their helmets,” Grace said.
Bell County Magistrates Jr. Maiden and Rick Cornett, UK Extension Agent Stacy White, along with several community members including David Gibbons, Carroll Gibbons and Tinka Wilson, were instrumental in the formation of the initial event.
“Everybody ate together, everybody rode together. The camaraderie was just so good to see,” Cornett said.
When asked about the future of horseback riding in Bell County, Cornett said, “It can escalate. That mountain is for everybody. Let’s go use it. I’d love to see it grow and I think that it can.”
Cornett said that he attends the Knott County Trail Ride every year and that event has served as a model for the beginning of Bell County’s horseback riding club and activities.
“I’m so happy to see horseback riding begin to take off and have a future here in our home because we have such a great opportunity for the sport and all who enjoy it. We are looking forward to a lot of exciting developments in the horseback riding area in the coming year and I want to thank everyone in the fledgling saddle club who is contributing to the effort of developing Bell County into a top horseback riding destination,” Grace said.
“We had a good turnout, with no advertising, other than word of mouth,” Maiden said.
“I am encouraged to see this much initial interest in a trail ride here in Bell County. There are several riders already in the county and this type of event should draw in many from other areas. It’s just one more piece of the puzzle to increase tourism in Bell County,” Extension Agent Stacy White said.
The group is in the early stages of planning a spring ride, which could include a bluegrass show.
For more information, contact Maiden, Cornett or Grace.