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Great Gifts and a Great Indiana Trail Area for Riders to Enjoy!

hcdec20161As published in the Horsemens Corral – Dec 2016 Issue –
Great Gifts and a Great Trail Area for Riders to Enjoy!

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is already upon us. It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying the heat, and long days, of summer. I often find myself searching for gift ideas that are both thoughtful and unique around this time of year.

Stockings hung from the chimney with care? A simple feed bucket is a much more versatile container for small items and can be used year ‘round unlike a glorified red and green sock.  Do It Yourselfers can easily create a very thoughtful and unique gift by simply filling a feed bucket with items that you’ve picked out yourself. Once the bucket is full, wrap it in craft paper; tie with a bailing twine bow, and presto! You’re done.

But what shall we fill the bucket with?

Treats – For the horses that is; the rider will do just fine during the holiday season! A special treat that will have the ponies running at dinnertime can be made at home. Here’s a recipe I’ve found that my horses, and Ellie, enjoy throughout the year.

  • 1 cup oats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2Tbl molasses
  • Peppermints

Mix the oats and water first then add the molasses. Roll the sticky mixture into balls and press a peppermint in the center. Store in the refrigerator until they’re hard.

Not a fan of dirty dishes?  Try Winnies Cookies and let Winnie do the cooking! These Ellie tested and approved treats are made of organic ingredients, handmade, baked fresh, and shipped directly to you.  Get yours at

smoothstrideSmooth Stride Riding Jeans – They look like a western style jean but have all of the advanced features of English breeches. The end result is practical riding pants that are comfortable, functional, and stylish.

Smooth Stride’s innovative sizing system, based on various equine breeds, guarantees a great fit. Three different lengths and a wide variety of sizes ensures that riders can find their next favorite pair of jeans. From Arabian to Nokota, Smooth Stride has you covered!

The Colt program makes choosing the right size easy and eliminates wondering if maybe you should have ordered a size smaller/larger. If you aren’t sure what size you wear, you can order two different sizes, try them both on at home, then return the one you don’t want. Even better, SmoothStride pays the shipping.

Get yours at

trailereyes2Trailer Eyes Trailer Cam – If you’ve ever wondered what kind of mischief was happening in the trailer behind you the Trailer Eyes Trailer Cam system will bring a sense of relief with a worry free drive to your next trail riding destination.  I believe that this device is an excellent safety essential for anyone who hauls horses.

Designed to send video signals from your trailer to a monitor in the cab of your towing vehicle the Trailer Eyes system is easy to setup and monitor. I’ve found that the device is helpful not only to keep an eye on the ponies as we travel down the road but also as an aid for backing the trailer!

Get yours at

equestrisafe1-2EquestriSafe Fetlock ID Band – Have you ever wondered what might or could happen to your horse if the two of you were separated? Whether a horse wonders away from camp, gets loose at home, or has to be evacuated during an emergency some type of identification is a must if you’re to be confident about being reunited.

In the past I’ve used indelible markers on hooves as well as paint and grease markers on hide. There’s a better way to let someone know who a strange animal belongs to. The EquestriSafe Fetlock ID band.

This wonderful product can be described in four words. Durable. Visible. Safe. Affordable.

The fetlock ID band gives me comforting peace of mind when I’m riding in remote areas as well as when I’m closer to home. With my phone number embroidered on the bright neon orange band anyone that finds the horse will have a quick and easy way to contact me.

Get yours at

formfitterPack Saddle – Once you’ve filled your gift bucket you can carry it with a good pack saddle! Over the past few years I’ve come to love my Formfitter pack saddle. This modified decker rig has visited numerous wilderness areas across the Pacific Northwest and beyond with no issues either for my pack animal or me. It’s a winner.

Beyond flexible bars and tree the saddle boasts outstanding workmanship in both the leatherwork and the hardware.  Butter soft chap leather lines the breeching and breast collar, while buckle covers add a pleasant esthetic while preventing hair loss.

Wade and Simone of Outfitters Pack Station are the gurus of Phillips Formfitter pack saddle fit and take the time to make sure that everything is measured twice to ensure a good fit for your animal.

Get yours at –

Well there you go; a great set of Christmas gift ideas sure to please your favorite trail rider!

Now for a fabulous place to ride and enjoy those gifts!

blackwellTrail of the Month – Blackwell Horse Camp, Bloomington, Indiana

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.016887, -86.389728

On the Web at –

Hoosiers have access to a lot of good riding areas within the state. One of these areas is the Hoosier National Forest located smack in the middle of the state. The northern portion of the forest is home to the Charles C. Deam Wilderness and the Blackwell Horse Camp. This camp has a lot of great things going for it besides being surrounded by the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, the only wilderness area in Indiana.

Blackwell Horsecamp by the Numbers:

  • 100 Number of trailers that will fit
  • 6 Corrals
  • 1 Restroom
  • 1 Pavilion shelter
  • 1 Pond for stock water
  • 35 miles of horse friendly trails
  • 1 Trail Permit required per rider
  • 750 ft elevation
  • 1 Wilderness area – Deam Wilderness

The campground is essentially a large field that is easily large enough park 100 truck and trailer rigs. Campers will appreciate the corrals built into the perimeter fencing and the restroom and pavilion facilities in the camp area. The only thing that the camp lacks is potable water so be sure to bring your own. Stock water can be located in a small pond just a minute or two walk from camp.

With trails stretching across the width and breadth of the wilderness area and into the surrounding forest riders have a tremendous variety of trails to choose from and experiences to enjoy. As you cross one ravine after another, mosey through creeks, and forge up the next ridge on the wilderness’s 35 miles of trails you’ll be glad you made the journey to Blackwell. It’s one of Indiana’s treasures.

Before you load the trailer you’ll want to remember that a trail permit is required to ride here. These tags can be purchased from the Forest or bought at many local stores. Income from these tags is put to use maintaining the forest’s trails and trailhead areas. While we’re on the topics of rules; the use of weed free feed, while not required, is much appreciated by the forest staff. Happy Trails!

For more detailed information on the Blackwell Horse Camp as well as many other excellent horse riding and camping locations visit, the largest horse trail and camping guide in North America.