It’s September 25, 2015. Trailers by the dozen appear at the Tunbridge VT World’s Fair Grounds at 1 p.m. Creaking rigs, neighing horses, and the clatter of trucks heading toward the entrance gate signals the beginning of The VHC annual Tunbridge Trail Ride.
Tunbridge welcomes the 140 or so riders and horses with open arms. The small but mighty town of 1284 people (2010 census) has covered bridges and churches that make the National Registry of Historical places. Its World’s Fair has a history of its own, and the Fairgrounds are spotless – even starch white – in presentation. Horse-camping here is a privilege. Whether you wire off a small paddock for your horses or use some of the stalls on the campgrounds, everyone feels safe and nestled-in at night when the air chills down, and the bonfire is lit.
Personally, I tell friends it reminds me of a family reunion. Families come from near and far. There were riders this year from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire. It’s like all your friends meeting at one spot, bringing their favorite animals, favorite food, and happy demeanors.
Tunbridge, where you can ride up and down hills, through stunning greenery, rivers with covered bridges, pastures, farms, even cemeteries. Did I mention how happy everyone is? There are old friends, new friends, but everyone acts like they’ve known you forever. The healthy smells of fall are in the air along with the familiar trail ride smells – horses, leather, coffee, bacon, sawdust, and hay. And the ground shakes from the pounding of horses in big and small riding groups exploring the perfectly marked trails of 12-15 miles each day. The catered food is fabulous: bag lunch on the trail and hot breakfasts and dinners in the Fairground’s Gilman building.
This year our weather was awesome: cool nights, crisp mornings, then warm temps in the day. Horses were eager to go and the sights were pure Vermont. The VHC Annual Tunbridge Trail Ride is a gift of gold. I didn’t hear any complaints, except one. A rider said to me “I could stay here a few more days and I’d pay double to do it.” Can’t really call that a complaint. I’m sure a lot of people felt that way.
The VHC Tunbridge Committee is already working on next year’s ride. Personally, I can’t wait.
If you are going, plan early. For more information, check the VHC website. Here is the registration information link for 2015. Also check out www.onthespotphoto.com, under galleries, select equine folder and then selectVHC tunbridge Galleries 2015 and see the water crossings, trails, and lunch pictures for that weekend. See you there!
— Bea Call-Morin and Terry Rose