HTCAA Connects the Waves!

Written by Rochelle Lyons

I learned of the ability to access Lake Michigan (particularly access to Aral Beach along the shoreline near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shore) through HTCAA from someone that tackeled the Shore to Shore Trail Ride across Michigan. Accessing Lake Michigan has been a bucket list adventure for ours for quite some time. My friend Jillian Hintz and I began planning this over a year ago and were able to make all of the pieces fall into place for July 2018.


We embarked on our journey on a Friday morning and hauled 5 hours to Empire, Michigan. We stayed at an equine facility that allows for overnight camping called Pouncey Ponderosa. This facility is just what all horse campers want in their experience. It was quiet, simple, very relaxed, and owned by a person that truly loves their facility. 


We left early Saturday morning for an 8 mile trek to the shoreline. We used a combination of local equine trails, the Michigan Shore to Shore Trail, and country back roads to gain access to the shoreline; however, no matter where we were throughout this 8 mile journey, the views were beautiful!


When we were able to see the shoreline of Lake Michigan on the horizon, so our excitement grew! We were about to accomplish a bucket list task together on our trusty equine companions! 

Bully, my 11 year old Quarter Horse, has a dedicated love for the water. He loves to go into rivers, inland lakes, pond, and puddles just to get his hooves wet. He'll dunk his head into the water and occasionally paw around in it. It's one of his happy places! When Bully caught sight of the water in front of him, he began pulling against me. He really wanted to get into that water. I proceeded with caution though, as I knew that Bull had never seen a body of water that had waves crashing to the shoreline.


As soon as the first wave came at him, I'm pretty sure he thought he was under attack. I had to get off at that point to show him that the water wasn't going to eat him. This is when I was able to capture the photo of him looking down the shoreline. After about 5 waves, Bull settled down and started to relax.


He was looking at the lake in true amazement. You can see the wonder in his eyes in that photo. He was experiencing the same wonder and awe that Jill and I were! I was able to get on at this point and he went right in. He loved every minute of being in that lake!

Jillian and her 8 year old Missouri Fox Trotter, Loki, were experiencing the waves for the first time also. Loki did not mind the waves at first as his main focus was to make a splash! Loki likes to paw and splash around in water as well. It wasn't until we attempted to get a picture together that Loki realized the water moved beneath him. He reared up, ever so calmly and slowly, and launched out of the lake. Both horses settled into the water quite easily after that point. They are both such dedicated and intelligent horses and it was wonderful sharing this bucket list adventure with them!


Aral beach was an amazing experience. The shores of Lake Michigan are absolutely stunning. The water is crystal clear, the beaches are mostly sand, and the views are breathtaking! Most of all, it was an opportunity to realize that the animals we ride and love every day enjoy the same marvels of the world that we do!


Seeing how much Bully loved the view of that massive lake made me set a new bucket list challenge... Bull and I are going to attempt to access every Great Lake as another one of our bucket list adventures! One down, 4 to go!


Rochelle lives in Michigan and grew up with horses. She’s had them all her life. She showed for a while, but trail riding is where she seems to enjoy her horses the most. We wish her the best on her Bucket List and hope to see many more beautiful pictures and stories from her rides!

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