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Midwest Trail Ride, Norman Indiana

Author Sue Kuzelka (right) finds a wide trail with daughter Kaylee (left) and cousin Misti (middle).

Midwest Trail Ride in Hoosier National Forest is indeed "the Horseman's Campground." It offers scheduled rides, as well as open camping. This year, my 8-year-old daughter, Kaylee, my cousin, Misti, and I decided to spend our Labor Day week in Norman, Indiana, for the Labor Day weekend ride.

Getting Settled
Midwest Trail Ride is located about 250 miles from our home in Chicago, Illinois, an easy five-hour drive. We arrived at our site about 3 p.m.

Our cedar cabin was located right next to our horse's stalls, so we could look out the cabin's window to check on the horses at night. There were two sets of bunk beds, space enough for a dog kennel (our cocker spaniel came along), and some chairs. The air conditioning was especially appreciated. Water and electricity were nearby.

The horses settled in to relax from their journey, while we checked in at the Outpost, a combination tack/convenience store. It sells girths, hay nets, hoof oil, supplements, and lead ropes, as well as sandwiches, drinks, and ice cream.

Favorite Trails
Once everything was put away, we saddled up and went for a short evening ride. First, my daughter warmed up her horse in the large round pen.

The first time I went to Midwest, I had trouble finding some of the trails. They're well-marked, but being from Chicago, I thought all trails were at least eight feet wide. There are wide trails, but also many single-file trails.

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Sue Kuzelka takes a break along a tree-lined trail.

Misti had been to Midwest before, so she took the lead with her buckskin gelding, Sonny. I was amazed at how steep some of the inclines were, but our horses didn't have any problems. At one point, my daughter closed her eyes and gave her horse his head. Mack kept Kaylee safe the entire time. I couldn't have asked for a better horse for a young rider's first week-long ride.

The area was in the midst of a drought, so water on the trail was scarce. We rode out early in the morning for a few hours, then came back to camp. We went out again in the evening.

We rode to a ghost town and to Hickory Grove Church. Along the way, we met many wonderful new friends. There are many other destinations, but those were our favorites.

Planning Tips
To ride in Hoosier National Forest, you do need tags for your horse if you're over 16. The cost is $5 per day, $35 per year. This money is used for hitching posts, pit toilets, and other amenities, as well as trail maintenance.

There are cabins with heat and air conditioning, bunkhouses (with electricity only), and campsites (with electrical hookups) that are large enough for living-quarters trailers.

Stalls and shavings are provided. There's also a large building for dances, meals, etc. For the Labor Day ride, all meals were provided, from dinner on Friday to breakfast on Monday. Free coffee and lemonade were provided at all times.

We can't wait to go back. I'd recommend Midwest Trail Rides to anyone.

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