Originally published 1998.

“Ever since Sleepy Hollow State Park was created in Clinton County in the mid-1960’s, horse enthusiasts have wanted to ride there.  In July 1988, a group of interested leaders from the Clinton County 4-H Horse Council decided they would study, plan and submit a proposal to build equestrian trails in the park. Their proposal was first submitted to the DNR in 1988 and was rejected in January 1989.  As time went on, interest in the horse trail project at Sleepy Hollow State Park grew. After more study, another proposal was presented in May 1993. In July 1994, the proposal was finally accepted.”

“In October 1994, work began on Phase 1 of the project.  This included the planning and building of an entrance road, and a parking and staging area, the digging of a well and installation of a pump.  Trail construction was not permitted until Phase 1 was completed.  Money was donated by several 4-H groups and individuals. Volunteers with heavy equipment were recruited. The access road and staging area was bulldozed and leveled and some sand and gravel was spread. In early 1997, the DNR set a deadline of March 30, 1997, for the group to complete Phase 1 of the project.”

“At this time it became obvious that meeting the deadline would be impossible without some concentrated efforts and organization. An organizational meeting was held on March 10, 1997, with over 100 interested people in attendance. An interim Board of Directors was appointed and committees in charge of specific activities were formed. In May 1997, Sleepy Hollow Trail Riders Association (SHTRA) became a non-profit corporation and a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.”

“SHTRA continued developing the gravel access road leading to the staging area by laying tons of gravel along its route in accordance with DNR specifications.  They had to clear the staging area, spread more gravel, dig a well, install picket posts and a hand pump to complete Phase 1. The only DNR-provided item, an outhouse, was also installed. Then, within nine weeks, they cut a five mile long and six foot wide trail out of fields, brush and wood lots.”

“The group has worked tirelessly to raise money, put in culverts and drainage tubes, and to mark and construct trails.  Hundreds of volunteer hours have been documented. Caring individuals have donated material, equipment usage, and back-breaking work. Over $9,500 has been raised and spent on trail, road and staging area construction.  At long last, on October 18, 1997, SHTRA, park employees and horse enthusiasts celebrated the Grand Opening of the equestrian trail.”

“With first loop of trail open, the group has turned its attention to the second loop of trail, roughly seven miles long, which is currently under construction. Future plans include the addition of a 10 to 12 mile loop around Lake Ovid and a rustic equestrian campground.”

“SHTRA is a volunteer organization whose primary purpose is the protection and preservation of the horse trails on public land, Sleepy Hollow State Park. Because we are a federally recognized 501(c)(3), ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE! (Note: this does not include your membership dues-please consult your tax advisor for details that fit your situation). SHTRA has a unique fund-raising strategy. The group sponsors a variety of activities of interest to horse people and non-horse people alike. Some of the group’s activities
have included an Ovid Lion’s Club brunch, horse-drawn wagon rides during Ichabod Crane Days at the park campground, Christmas tree sales, a horse fun show, a bake sale, an auction of donated horse items, an equine massage clinic and a mounted orienteering clinic and ride. Future fund-raising plans include special horse related clinics, equine massage, equine chiropractic, judged trail rides, and special event weekend campouts.”

“If you need more information on SHTRA trails, membership or volunteer opportunities, please contact a Board member.”

“Members receive discounted rates to participate in most of the group’s sponsored events. Memberships are available on an individual and family basis, and include an annual subscription to the group’s regular newsletter.”

“Come join us! It is a great way to meet other trail riders and work toward a common goal.”