Chapter enjoys horsin around

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 Messenger photo by Mike Munden

Mike and Cindy Rogers pose with two of their Tennessee Walkers, Hatter (left) and Beau. Mike is president of the Madison County Chapter of the Ohio Horsemen’s Council Inc.

“Horsemen Helping Horsemen” is the motto of the Ohio Horseman’s Council (OHC). Forty-five people belong to the Madison County chapter, which is looking for more people to saddle up.

You don’t have to have a horse to join, just a love of horses and an interest in supporting the equine industry, according to Mike Rogers, president of the Madison County chapter.

And, you don’t even have to live in Madison County. The chapter has drawn people from Clark, Fairfield, Franklin, Harrison, Lucas and Pickaway counties.

The group’s focus is both social and service-oriented.  They organize trail rides and campouts, as well as help to maintain horseman facilities at Deer Creek State Park in Mount Sterling and Prairie Oaks Metro Park near West Jefferson.

Sometimes they add gravel to muddy spots on the trails or trim encroaching tree branches that could snag a rider sitting tall on a horse like “Hatter,” Rogers’ Tennessee Walker measuring 16 hands high. Sometimes members add culverts to improve drainage or remove old, unneeded ones, he said.

The group also raises money to donate to the two parks.  As a result, the parks can apply for matching funds from the state.

In the past, OHC in Madison County has raised several hundred dollars at its annual fall ride at Spotted Horse Ranch in Laurelville, an event they plan to repeat. Activities will include a silent auction, cornhole and hillbilly golf. Member Tim Beathard also might auction some additional items.

“This year we’re going big,” Rogers said. He has high hopes for a spring raffle of a western-themed, queen-sized quilt made by Janet Jones, president of the West Jefferson Heirloom Quilters.

Other activities are planned for 2008 to increase awareness and draw more members, Rogers said. The chapter hopes to have a booth at the Madison County Fair and sponsor trophies for some of the horse shows.

More families and young members are needed to keep the chapter going into the future.

“Our goal is to get new members,” Rogers said. “If a lion doesn’t move, he becomes a rug.”

A family membership costs $32.50; single membership is $20; students pay $17; and senior citizens, $13.75. All fees include membership to OHC, the state-level organization.

The OHC was formed in 1972 and currently has 60 county chapters with a total membership of about 3,800. It meets twice a year, usually in Delaware. Members can buy low-cost equine excess liability insurance for coverage up to $1 million at home or on the trails, Rogers said.

The Madison County chapter plans to set its 2008 calendar of events at the February meeting. In the past, the group has traveled to ride and camp in states bordering Ohio and as far away as Tennessee and Virginia. However, with rising gasoline prices, Rogers expect to schedule more trail rides in Ohio this year.

Monthly meetings are held on the second Thursday at the Madison County Engineer’s Office, 825 U.S. 42 NE, behind the fast food restaurants at the I-70 interchange.

In addition to Rogers, officers are: Bill Jones, vice president; Mike Hathaway, treasurer; and Jan Miller, secretary. They have a temporary Web site at madisoncountyohc.talkspot.com.

When not riding the trails, Rogers and his wife, Cindy, tend to their five horses at Soggy Bottom Stables on the corner of Old Columbus Road and State Route 56.

“This horse thing,” Rogers said, “it’s not a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.”

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