Saddle Club Wants Campground to Become Real 'Horse Camp'

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June 8, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Crows Creek Campground, Clay County, Mo.

Twenty-six miles of scenic trails just east of the equestrian campsite at Crows Creek Campground in northwest Missouri make the area popular with members of the Kearney Saddle Club.

A few more amenities would make the horse camp at Smithville Lake even better, club members say. And they’ve petitioned Clay County officials about their concerns, the Kansas City Star reported.

Such as restricting use of the site to horses and riders only.

“It’s a safety issue,” said Linda Gonzales, club president.

A horse weighs some 1,200 pounds. A horse scared by the actions of people who aren’t familiar with horses can be dangerous. Thirty scared horses can be 36,000 thundering pounds of bad news.

What might spook a horse? Kids throwing a football or players in togas engaged in a game of fantasy role-playing might do it.

That’s exactly what the Kearney Saddle Club found last month at the equestrian camp where 30 members had gathered for a weekend of trail riding and camping at the only site on the campground where they are allowed with their horses.

Right now, others are allowed to use the same site and club members want such restrictions extended to make the site “truly a horse camp,” said Jetta McGinniss of Kansas City, North.

Club members have found that families who are allowed to use the horse camp don’t understand the need to keep curious children or bicyclists away from horses, McGinniss said.

The horse owners drive to the site with their recreational vehicles and horse trailers, but camping is primitive style, Gonzales said, because access to water is limited and there are no electrical hookups.

Earlier this year, club members collected more than 450 signatures on petitions to the county for improvements to the equestrian campground.

And the county is responding.

By September, 16 to 20 campsites will have electrical hookups, said Michael Kaullen, deputy director and chief ranger with Clay County Parks and Recreation.

Kaullen hopes to budget for 20 more hookups next year. He is applying for grants to build 20 horse stalls, a loading ramp and five more trails south of the horse camp as well.

The county is also seriously considering the request to restrict the use of the equestrian campsite.

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