Ever tried your hand at a Poker Ride? Well the Coast Mounted Assistance (CMA) group of Montana de Oro State Park is hosting their annual Poker Ride, along with other activities, to raise funds to fix up the Horse Camp at Montana de Oro. The weekend will be full of fun, with a Trail Trials ride on October 10 and a Poker Ride on October 11, 2015.
How a Poker Ride works
A Poker Ride is a reason to get out on the trails and have some fun for a good cause. You will be dealt a hand of five cards at the beginning of the ride. As you enjoy the trails in Montana de Oro, on either the Guided ride or the Ribbon ride, you will have opportunities to change your hand along the way. The top ten Poker Hands at the end of the day get prizes. The other participant’s names go into a raffle for prizes. You can purchase as many hands as you care to play. The ride ends with a yummy BBQ for all participants.
The Trail Trial is another reason to get out and explore the trails in Montana de Oro. The Trail Trial is a great way to test yourself and your horse on a variety of obstacles. A coach will be at all obstacles to help horse and rider pairs if needed.
A Fun Weekend for a Good Cause
SLO Horse News caught up with both Susan McElhinney, the Past President of CMA and one of its most long-term members, and Lynda Roelle, the Poker Ride coordinator, to gather information about the fun weekend ahead. The CMA is a volunteer equestrian group that patrols all the trails in Montana de Oro that are accessible to horses. They provide information, maps and other assistance to visitors. “We report to the Park rangers on trail conditions, and also report any suspected illegal activities we observe. We remind visitors that dogs are not allowed on most of the Park trails, and tell them where they can legally go with their pets,” they explained.
CMA has been in operation for more than 30 years and has provided invaluable service to the park. Since the members are very familiar with the trails and surrounding areas of Montana de Oro, they have been called on to search for missing persons and the occasional missing horse. “A few years ago, we helped the Sheriff with a search-and-rescue drill, assisting members of the Sheriff’s Posse (also an equestrian group) with their search efforts, since our members are very familiar with the Park,” they continued.
The funds raised during this weekend of activities will all go toward upgrades and general upkeep of the Horse Camp, and fund equipment needed by CMA volunteers. Lynda and Susan went on to explain,
“Recently, we replaced a number of the Horse Camp corrals, with money raised in previous years, at a cost of several thousand dollars. CMA volunteers provided all the labor; the only outlay was for materials. We continue to upgrade the corrals, manure bins, and other camp facilities as needed.”
So load your horse in the trailer and make your way out to Montana de Oro for Columbus Day Weekend. You can reserve a spot to camp starting Thursday October 8 through Monday October 12. The cost to stay at the Horse Camp per horse and rider team (including one trailer and vehicle) is $60.00 for the weekend. Rider and horse pairs who wish to trailer in will pay $25 for each day. Saturday October 10th is the Trail Trial ($15). This is separate from the Poker Ride and does not include the Sunday BBQ. Sunday October 11th is the Poker Ride ($30), where you can explore using the ribbon marks or a guided ride if desired. Extra Poker Hands are $5.00 per hand, and Poker Ride participants get to enjoy the BBQ on Sunday. “The BBQ is always a highlight of local deliciousness,” boasted Susan and Lynda.
Susan and Lynda are both looking forward to the weekend. “Poker Rides are always really fun. In the past, all the rides were led by CMA members, but we have shifted to more self-guided rides on routes marked with ribbons. This allows people to go at their own pace; turn back if they feel like it, stop and enjoy the views, start as early as they want, and so on. Adding a Trail Trial to the event is the most recent innovation, and is fun and challenging for people and horses.”
Registration forms and more information can be found on the CMA website. So make plans to join the CMA Columbus Day Weekend. It’s a great way to enjoy the trails, your friends and raise money for the Coast Mounted Assistance group at Montana de Oro.
Main Image: Kathy Longacre is all smiles on the Montana de Oro Poker Ride. All CMA members wear the gold vests or shirts.
Story written by Sharon Jantzen