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Trail riders: Women gather to enjoy their horses

From left, a group of women who gather for social rides are Kathy Baumgartner on her Quarter Horse, Blaze; Liz Letson on her Paint Horse, Cracker Jack; Judy Wilson on her Tennessee Walking Horse, Pride; Judy Bing on her Missouri Foxtrotter, Champ; Nancy Moen on her Quarter Horse, Pi; Connie Jacobson on her Arab-Quarter Horse, Buck; and Julia Conlon on her Arab-Quarter Horse, Cinder. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Dapple and sorrel, palomino and paint, a group of horsewomen unload a colorful assortment of animals for a summer afternoon ride in Movil Maze.

The women, who have been riding and horse camping together for years, range in age from a young mother, Liz Letson, to Pam Fankhanel, a woman in her 70s.

"Judy (Bing) and I know each other, but this is the first time we've ridden together," said Julia Conlon as the riders gathered Wednesday. "She was my son's teacher. That's how we initially met."

Conlon had her dapple gray Arab-Quarter Horse, Cinder, tied to her trailer.

"There's such a network," said Judy Bing, with her Missouri Foxtrotter, Champ.

"There's a bunch of us who ride gaited horses," Bing said, referring to Judy Wilson and her Tennessee Walking Horse, Pride. "You go at a different pace."

Wilson said the group joins for rides in parks and on trails around Minnesota, as well as other areas.

"I just got back from Medora," Bing said, referring to Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, N.D. The park is a famous horse camping destination.

"We'd like to check out all of the campgrounds," said Nancy Moen, who was riding her palomino Quarter Horse, Pi. "We don't have a group name. It's more for just enjoying the outdoors."

"What's nice about the group is I learn from everybody," said Connie Jacobson, who was riding her light gray Arab-Quarter Horse, Buck. "I didn't learn to ride until I was 45."

She said she tried riding on one of Wilson's old, quiet mares, Belle. She thought she was a natural rider until she realized the horse made her seem like an accomplished equestrienne.

"We're trying to ride more, so were trying to get on a regular schedule," Jacobson said.

She said they e-mail each other to set up riding dates and places.