Riding the bridle trails at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark has been a peaceful and serene opportunity for trail riders from Ohio and neighboring states for the last 50 years. A result of a long-standing working relationship between local horsemen and Metroparks personnel, there are more than 20 miles of horseback riding enjoyment within Toledo’s largest Metropark and adjoining state forest property. In addition to the trails, the volunteers, with Park’s support, helped designate an area in the 1980s for horsemen to park their trailers while riding the trails and as a place to meet afterwards with restrooms, picnic shelter, grills, water and hitching posts.
Many of the volunteers who diligently volunteer at Oak Openings are members of Ohio Horseman’s Council, a non-profit corporation organized in the state of Ohio with 4,200 members in 69 Ohio counties. In addition, volunteers come from local 4-H clubs as well as non-equestrians who just enjoy the outdoors and camaraderie.
Working closely with Metroparks, the volunteers continually supplement maintenance needs by trail trimming, removing roadside and trailside litter, maintaining hitching rails and trail map signs in addition to generous donations and man power to build four mounting platforms. Thousands of hours have been contributed by the volunteers during the past 25 years, according to Lora Goerlich, Park Ranger at Oak Openings and fellow trail rider.
“We work closely with the volunteers and I often boast about the hardworking, dependable and inspiring individuals who continue the effort to preserve the bridle trails at Oak Openings,” she said. “The contributions of time, labor and funding demonstrate an embedded dedication to preserving one of the best horse trails in Ohio.”
According to the Ohio Horseman’s Council, Oak Openings is in the top 15 most used bridle trails in Ohio, tracked by its membership. Oak Openings is popular due to its sandy, wide trail, flat tread and excellent drainage, therefore, riders don’t have to battle slippery trails as they would in other parts of the state where OHC volunteers maintain trails. As a result of the trail conditions, riders can enjoy Oak Openings trails throughout the year.
Ohio Horseman’s Council provides a positive environment for equine owners and supporters through education, organized trail rides, and other social and service functions. Many members volunteer their time and resources to promote the building and preservation of 1,600 miles of bridle trails in 108 locations throughout the state. There are OHC chapters in Fulton, Defiance and Wood counties.
For more information about Oak Openings Preserve Metropark horse trails, go to http://metroparkstoledo.com/media/2057/horsetrail-bro2016.pdf to view a map and detailed description of trails. For information about joining an OHC county chapter, visit ohconline.com and click on “Chapters” in the menu bar to find your county and chapter contacts.
The Fulton County chapter welcomes members and interested guests to join them the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at Papoo’s in Whitehouse. OHC membership is open to all ages of rider, disciplines of riding and breed of horse.