Alpena woman takes vision from Wyoming to Northeast Michigan
LACHINE — Growing up in Alpena, Amanda Sumerix knew where she wanted to spend her adult life: on top of a horse, running a dude ranch in Wyoming.
She took her dream — and her horse, Gypsy — to college downstate, where she worked at a ranch before moving to Wyoming, as she’d always hoped she would.
There, Sumerix gave trail riding lessons and spent her days with horses and lived the dream of thousands of horse-crazy little girls everywhere.
Then, she discovered she missed Northeast Michigan.
So the enterprising young woman decided to take her dream to the Alpena area.
At her in-law’s working farm, Sumerix and her four horses, bevy of cats, and goat, Fern — the star of the farm who eats anything in sight — are ready to welcome small riding parties for hour-long trail rides through the pleasant Lachine countryside.
An hour on horseback, one discovers at Rose Creek Horse Adventures, gives a body a chance to breathe.
Saddle leather creaks as hardwood trees and fields of hay slip by between a horse’s pricked ears. Frogs skitter between sturdy hooves while daisies catch a gentle breeze to the sound of a gentle horse snort.
For the inexperienced, the initial transition from boots-on-ground to seat-in-saddle is daunting. Even with the help of a small stepstool Sumerix keeps at the ready, the clamber onto the sturdy back of the horse is awkward at best, but the animal doesn’t seem to mind.
At first a simple clomp across a field while the rider adjusts to the new seating arrangement, the trail takes a dip downward as it enters the hardwood grove where Sumerix and her husband got married last year.
Hills are alarming, but the horses earn trust as they placidly place one foot after another, steady and strong.
Gypsy, a palomino Tennessee walking horse with a snacking addiction, puts her head down frequently as the trail turns along a field, grabbing a quick mouthful of greenery to go.
She’d trust her horses with any rider, Sumerix said, with years of training both horses and riders to help her get everyone to the end of the trail safely.
To make sure her horses aren’t startled by surprises, she’s taken them on outings, from strolls at the beach to trips through a fast-food drive-through.
Recent rain has soaked a part of the trail. Walker, the pinto quarter horse that is Sumerix’s mount for the day, plods through the mud, but Gypsy isn’t keen on the thick tugs at her feet and hangs back. No matter, there are plenty of other trails to follow.
Paths wind across the creek that is the business’s namesake and finally reaches the Thunder Bay River as it moseys between trees.
She takes more experienced riders right through the river, an experience relished by the horses, Sumerix said.
The trail climbs and dips again. Walker’s enormous haunches ahead, the rider on his back chats comfortably about horses and ranches and being a country girl bringing her dream home to Alpena.
Northeast Michigan offers a lot of ways to get outdoors, but not too many of them connect people to animals, Sumerix said.
She hopes people come ride with her.
Being on horseback, outdoors, in the trees and the sunshine, helps people feel grounded and makes them happy, she firmly believes.
That’s the whole point of her new business venture, Sumerix said.
That, and making a dream come true.
Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jriddleX.