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PEPPERELL — The Pepperell Horse Owner’s Association (PHOA) held its seventh annual Pleasure Trail Ride on Sunday, Oct. 31.

By all accounts it was a record-breaking ride, with a total of 78 horses and riders.

According to PHOA member Judy Lorimer, who has logged thousands of miles trail riding with her horse, “ordinarily a trail ride is considered to have done very well if it has 40-50 riders. We were thrilled to have such an incredible response to the event.”

Riders gathered at Ten Broeck Farm on Prescott Street to begin their day. A few were even in costumes to show their Halloween spirit. The riders were then treated to many of Pepperell’s prettiest trails — made up of private and conservation land — as well as areas of New Hampshire, utilizing loops that combined wooded areas, dirt roads, hills and fields.

Committee Chair Kathy Mercurio explains: “The PHOA’s goal is to provide a ride to suit every preference and ability level. And, you don’t have to belong to the PHOA to enjoy the event; it’s open to all.” Mercurio headed up a group of volunteers who spent several weeks in early October clearing the trails and then marking them for the actual ride.

The shortest loop took riders in and out of the woods along the crystal-clear Nissitissit River and then through the Nissitissit woods to the Nissitissit Meadows Conservation properties for a total of six miles. A 12-mile ride included an added loop through Kimball’s Farm and Orchard, featuring breathtaking mountain views. Folks who wanted even more time in the saddle followed four additional miles into New Hampshire along dirt roads and trails through the Beaver Brook Reservation in Hollis.

All rides included a stop at the Murphy’s Mine Brook Farm on North Street, where hot spiced cider and snacks, including carrots, were waiting. The routes ended back at Ten Broeck Farm, where both riders and horses enjoyed lunch and took a well deserved break.

Several riders coined their experience as “a perfect fall day” and agreed that the area was still speckled with quite a bit of colorful foliage. The ride received wonderful reviews from participants about the beautiful trails and friendliness of the organizers.

Several years of feedback from participants show that the PHOA ride is not only recognized for its stunning scenery, but many rave about the outstanding footing, wooded trails, field perimeters and minimum amount of road work.

“Every year, we get more participants, as riders become aware of this beautiful area,” said PHOA President Stephen Ferreira, “We truly enjoy sponsoring this event because it showcases Pepperell’s commitment to the equestrian community and its well-maintained trails that skirt the Nissitissit River and the surrounding conservation areas.”

Ferreira adds that the PHOA is extremely grateful for the hard work and commitment that goes into this event every year, especially the club’s volunteers, the hosts at Ten Broeck and Mine Brook farms, photographer Bette Eldridge and the surrounding neighbors who generously allow pass-through as needed to optimize the routes.

The Pepperell Horse Owners Association is working to preserve and encourage equine activities in the town of Pepperell. To learn more visit www.phoa.info.

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