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Through the Trails of Maybury State Park

Our Program Director, Katie Patterson, explains why Maybury State Park is such a special place to her, and why she is excited about the Trail Ride Cook Out this weekend.
Our annual Trail Ride Cook Out is taking place this Saturday and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s being held at Maybury Riding Stables within Maybury State Park. The park itself is vast and absolutely majestic, and holds a very special place in my heart; Maybury is where I learned to ride!
Growing up, there were dozens of riding stables in the area. Most of them were so laid back and casual, the sign up process looked a little something like this:
Person in charge: “Have you ridden a lot before?”
8-year old me: “Yes!”
Person in charge: “Okay, here is your horse. Be back at the barn in 1 hour. These horses are going to want to race – don’t.”
8-year old me: (as I was galloping off with my sister and mom) “YEEHAW!”
Maybury was different though. They took the time to put me on my favorite horse (Eagle, please!) and helped me grow as a rider with instruction and guidance. As I got older, the other barns slowly started to close (perhaps they had issues with insurance…ha!) and Maybury became our horseback riding home. My mom and I made a point to go as often as we could and became part of the “advanced riders group” that met every Sunday morning before regular business hours (please note: this was under previous management). The crew would meet at the barn around 8:30AM and we’d all head out on “our” horses; mom rode Austin – a big, beautiful chestnut with a star and stripe – and I rode Cheyenne, a stunning chestnut and white pinto (Cheyenne is still at Maybury, but the previous owners loved Austin so much they took him with them when they sold the stable). We’d hit the trails for an hour and a half (that’s an extra 30 minutes than a normal ride!), going on secret paths and routes not ridden during a typical trail ride at Maybury. We were VIP!
I went off to Michigan State in East Lansing and shortly after leaving, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4a lung cancer. Horseback riding took on a new meaning for both of us. For me, it was the perfect excuse to see my mom every weekend (as if I really needed an excuse…). For mom, it was 90 minutes of her week where she wasn’t a cancer patient. She wasn’t thinking about the “what ifs” or the “if onlys”, the doctors appointments or the chronic pain and discomfort. On a horse, mom wasn’t sick; she was a strong, capable, confident, passionate horsewoman. If you’ve ever ridden before, you know that you can’t really think about too much else; your focus is on the horse and your surroundings. It’s a quiet time to just soak everything in and I always find myself overwhelmed with gratitude. Those Sunday morning rides with mom are some of the most beautiful memories I have with her, and I’m so thankful to Maybury for being a part of them.
Families enjoying the Trail Ride Cook Out in 2015

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