Dear VHC Members,
The Northeast Kingdom Equestrian Trails (NEKET) ride is scheduled for September 8-10 and is open to all VHC members at no additional cost. Go to https://www.vthorsecouncil.org/neket-ride for general information on the Victory Basin ride. Similar to past years, this year’s event will offer a combination of camping, informal trail riding and organized rides. Attendees can come as early as September 8th to camp and ride on their own both Thursday and Friday. Saturday will involve organized rides over several trails and a group pot luck in the evening. Sunday small groups or individuals usually return to favorite locations before breaking camp midday.
Because this ride is open to all VHC members, we wanted to start planning for the ride by offering our impressions of last year’s ride and solicit suggestions and help from folks that participated in the ride or have expressed an interest inVHC trail rides. Last year was a mixed bag in terms of a successful ride. Looking back, our impressions are:
Attendance was down due to:
- Our attempt to charge VHC members a fee for the ride. Just before the ride the VHC board determined that no charge should be made to members based on historical precedents. Nevertheless, some were still upset. There will be no charge for this year’s event.
- Folks may be tired of riding the same Kirby and Bog loops (see attached map). We have identified an additional variation for the Kirby Loop andanother that would allow for a shorter version of the Bog Loop. As soon as things dry up we need volunteers to ride and map these areas. We’ll also have to confirm access and insurance across private parcels.
- Other than the VHC website there was no publicity about the ride. We should consider posters placed in local gathering spots.
What other thoughts do you have about how attendance could be improved? We heard that a poker ride one day may be an attraction. Also, the gift swap at last year’s Willoughby Ride was a big success.
Water for horses was a planning and execution nuisance. One member provided her personal 500 gallon tank. Another member borrowed a trailer, picked up the tank and filled it several towns away. We are looking for a simpler way. Walt, the campsite owner, has indicated we can fill the tank at his place.
Firewood was not a problem. Just a few folks bringing wood seems to meet this need.
Sign-in went OK and the presence of a tent created a clear focal point for sign in and announcement. The wind/rain storm the next day damaged the tent. We can patch it together enough to work this year but it is clearly on its last legs. We had to scramble for a couple of tables and chairs.
When we switched from charging members for the ride we asked them to donate to the Scholarship Fund if they felt like it. We collected $140 for the fund and will probably also ask for donations this year.
Camping went well. We had one instance of loose horses and everyone seemed to locate their rigs where they wanted.
The Saturday pot luck was adequate but not very exciting. Is adding a gift exchange or preplanning who brings what types of dishes a good idea?
As far as we know, the signs posted on Route 2 and at close-by intersections provided adequate direction on how to get to the camp/ride site.
In past years a porta john has been placed at the campsite for the period of June- September. Last year it was placed there only for the week covering the NEKET ride. The rental is expensive and we received no complaints about it only being available for the ride week. We propose a ride week -only approach this year. Any comments?
Once again we are looking for volunteers to help plan and manage the ride period. Areas where we need help include:
- Laying out new trails
- Pre-ride trail maintenance
- Trail marking
- Installing signs
- Providing firewood
- Organizing the pot luck
- Rider check-in and checking papers
- Leading organized rides
- Camp site cleanup
If you have impressions of last year’s ride and comments, suggestions for this year’s ride or any interest in helping contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-624-0544. We will be holding a planning meeting in June, date to be determined.