When trail riding alone doesn’t suit you anymore just start your own group trail ride meet-up. That’s exactly what Pat Fish and her mule, Tobe, did. Tired of riding alone, and needing to expand her trail riding buddies network, she founded Horse and Mule Trail Riders in the 805 Meetup. This is a great example of horse people making things happen.
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Explore New Trails with Horse and Mule Trail Riders in the 805 Meetup
The best thing is that any rider with a horse or mule who is interested in exploring new trails in Santa Barbara County, San Luis County and Ventura County is welcome to meet-up with fellow trail riding enthusiasts and join the fun. Pat and fellow trail riders in the 805 have explored a variety of trails throughout the 805 area code counties. Since Pat lives in Santa Barbara County, many of the rides she schedules through the MeetUp group take place there. However, she regularly plans rides with fellow buddies in Nipomo, Pismo Beach, and Montana de Oro. She even treks down to Ventura county and explores trails in Ojai and Carpenteria.
How A Meetup Ride Works
According to Pat, the average ride size is usually about seven riders. “There is a core group of half a dozen people who come on almost every ride, and then we welcome a ‘wild card’ or two who RSVP through the MeetUp page.”
Making sure everyone enjoys the exploring together is a priority, so Pat and Tobe her mule provide the calm. “I ride an extremely steady mule, so often a new horse who seems a bit nervous will walk alongside us, and the animals take confidence from each other,” explains Pat.
The meetup rides Pat organizes are all day rides. Overnight rides can be arranged by the members on their own. There is a horse camp near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County and numerous horse camping areas in SLO County.
Looking for places to go horse camping in San Luis Obispo? Get the complete list and descriptions with the SLO County Horse Camping Guide.
Riding Around Lake Cachuma Pat’s Favorite Trail Ride Location
One of Pat’s recent explorations took place in her neck of the woods. Her favorite area to go exploring starts from the Live Oak Camp access out to the trails around Lake Cachuma.
In June, the meetup trail ride at this location had six riders and perfect weather. Pat describes the riders who joined her for the ride, “Three of us keep our animals at the same ranch, one good regular came from Santa Ynez, and we were joined by a couple from Los Olivos none of us had ever met before.”
The riders spent the morning going out and back on a trail by the lake then gathering for a picnic lunch under the oaks back at the rigs. Pat explains the expectations of a ride with a group, “On a ride like that, I tend to go out without expectations, and we see how far we can go before it feels like time to turn back. We ride to the least rider, so no one is out to prove anything and the goal is to share the beauty of the landscape and the opportunity to enjoy our animals.”
Mission Statement of Horse and Mule Trail Riders in the 805 Meetup
So that all understand the purpose of this trail riding group, Pat put together this mission statement:
“Riding in good company can be a safer and friendly way to explore the beauties of the front-country and back-country trails of the 805 area. Join this meetup and participate in group rides, and find new like-minded riders who will share the trail with you. Anyone who owns and rides a horse or mule or donkey is welcome to be a part of this meetup. If you know good trails, then meet new friends and show them the way. If you are new to the area, come along and follow someone who knows the trails. We are united by our love for the grace and power of the animals that make our explorations so very special. Exploring Happy Trails !!!
For these rides I don’t have a number of hours in mind, actually. I always think it is best to have a talk with the group before we go out and the most important thing to me is to ride to the least rider. So, if someone only wants to ride two hours, or has a rehabilitating horse or mule that can’t do distance, I always say we ride to accommodate them. If that means a shorter ride and half the group wants to go back and the other half wants to split off and go longer, that works too. There really aren’t any rules for this, just common courtesy.”
Become a Member of Horse and Mule Trail Riders in the 805 Meetup
“Just go to the Meetup Page and join!” exclaims Pat. “I keep it free, that way curious people might be more likely to come along to see if they like it.”
Currently there are 362 members in this group, for trail riders in the 805, and that number grows nearly daily. Pat explains this number, “I can only surmise that many people who have joined don’t even have horses or mules, because they have never come to a ride… but anyone is welcome to join.”
As Pat emphasizes, “This Meetup group just a vehicle for people who love to trail ride to do so together. I’d like to think that there are a lot of people out there who no longer feel comfortable riding alone, or who are new to the area and would like to see new trails with a group. If one meets a new friend, then they can arrange to ride together as new trail ride buddies.”
Planning Future Rides and Getting Ride Alerts
Looking at the schedule on the MeetUp site one can see that Pat is out with a group most Saturdays, but also schedules Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday rides. She says, “I usually think of a place I’d like to go, and write up the description and put it on the website. Then the MeetUp system sends out the announcement. If I’ve ridden there before I’ll include links to my MuleTrail.com blog so people can read about the trail and see photos of it.”
Pat explains the alert system further, “The MeetUp system is very efficient, so all members get an announcement when I post a new upcoming ride. When they RSVP then I have an efficient way to contact attendees, if for instance there is bad weather and we need to reschedule. It also gives me a way to send the blog of the ride to everyone who attended. I have started making a point of taking portraits of everyone on their animals, my gift back to the participants.”
Pat is Always Up for Exploring Around Lake Cachuma
“I am always up for riding out of Live Oak Camp at Lake Cachuma,” says Pat. “There are miles of trails, so depending on the weather we can go exploring in many directions and with the changing seasons the landscape is always different. An annual pass is a bargain, and for those of us who live in Santa Barbara it is 45 minutes above us in the Los Padres National Forest.”
Happy Trails to You
Pat leaves us with this final happy thought, “We’ve been fortunate, everyone is helpful and kind and thankful to have the opportunity to share a Happy Trail.”
Are you also tired of riding alone and want to explore new trails with fellow trail riders in the 805? Get yourself in the Horse and Mule Trail Rides in the 805 Meetup group and start exploring!
Photo credit: Pat Fish
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