Friday, May 07, 2004

Biltmore: The Course
Angie McGhee

Let's talk about the trail at Biltmore. First thing in the morning you head out in the direction of the "Big House". The trails are often carriage trails so they're wide enough for a jeep. They are not particularly steep though they do have climbs. As starts go this will be one of the less hair raising ones. It's nice because the road has plenty of dips and turns that keep all of the horses except the ones just in front of yours out of sight avoiding that "radar lock" on the horse 1/2 mile ahead runaway situation. These roads were built for the sake of having roads, not to get somewhere, so there are many turns and they take the gradual course of ascent and descent. These roads are also used by jumpers and you'll often look up ahead only to see a large timber jump appearing to block your path but when you get there there is always a "go around". >whew<

There is one sizable climb on this loop but for the most part the altitude changes at Biltmore are more like running up and down two or three flights of stairs all day than climbing up the Empire State Building and back down. After going through the woods you emerge near one of the, honest to goodness "charming" estate caretakers cottages. If you're lucky they may even have a water trough out at the road for you. One of the water troughs comes complete with a pen full of cows right beside it and they find endurance horses fascinating. They especially love to stare until a horse finally risks dropping his nose for a drink, then they explode in every direction...every year it's the same. They love that trick. You have one of your first asphalt crossings and may ride the verge of the road at times on this loop. I cringe every time our 200 horses hit these groomed shoulders but I guess they know what they're in for when they let us on the place.

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