Trail ride at Heyburn Lake

I spent a marvelous Labor Day trail riding on my best mare with good friends, which is a super way to kick off a week. Our original plan was to go to Stillwater, Oklahoma to Lake Carl Blackwell, but we opted to go somewhere a bit closer that was new to our group. We ended up at Heyburn Lake– it’s about an hour from the barn, though because none of us knew exactly where we were going, we ended up at the wrong end of the park and had to drive around the lake for another half hour to get to the multipurpose trail where horses are permitted.

Entrance to the trail
Entrance to the trail

I considered taking Candy on this ride, but opted to take Gina instead. This was a totally new trail to me, and I thought I’d rather be on my trusty foxhunter than a green bean who sometimes trips in the arena. And it’s not like Gina can’t use more conditioning before hunting season starts!

It was a big group!
It was a big group!

The trail was pretty well marked via reflectors nailed to trees and ticker tape tied to tree branches, which would have been more helpful if a map had been provided. (I couldn’t find one online, and they were out at the trailhead.) It was a narrow trail: one horse-width throughout most of the ride, and in a couple of badly eroded spots, I had to hike my legs up to avoid scraping them on the sides of the trail. Most of the trail was sandy, but there were several rocky spots that the horses had to scramble over. The trails twisted and turned and doubled back, which made them challenging for even an experienced horse like Gina!

Happy in the middle
Happy in the middle

Gina stayed in the middle of the pack for about half the ride, but led the way through some of the trickier terrain when the lead horse had a mini meltdown. I’m always surprised at what a rock star she is on the trail- here’s a horse who regularly spooks at saddle pads on the arena rail gently waving the the breeze, who can’t go over a ground pole without pitching a fit, and has been known to sit back while tied for no reason at all- and she justĀ goes on trails.

Happy in the front

Heyburn Lake includes a wildlife management area that’s closed to riders from October to January for gun hunting season; as a result, the trails there are not well maintained or well marked. We rode through it for about half an hour before losing all signs of the trail. We turned around and made our way through scrubby trees and underbrush back to the clearer trails, and eventually, the trailers.


The trailhead had a water spigot with a hose attached, so we were able to rinse the horses off and offer them buckets of water before heading home. I think Moe would enjoy navigating his way through these trails, so maybe next time I’ll take him!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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