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Trail Riding With the Perrys


By Malorie Paine

Anita Perry of Shelby County, Tennessee is an avid trail rider who participates in the Ride America program through the American Paint Horse Association (APHA).

Anita has had her APHA horse, Rapped With Chocolate, aka Chocolate, since she was a weanling in 1997. Anita did all of Chocolate’s training her on her own. “Throughout her entire training, Chocolate has been a quick learner and very easy to train,” said Anita.

 Anita and Chocolate began participating in Ride America in 2000 and they have been enjoying ever since. “It is my main and only hobby,” said Anita.

Before they began trail riding, Anita and her husband Gene Perry traveled the country showing and participating in AQHA and APHA horse shows. The Perrys made the change to trails so they could slow down and really enjoy the beauty of their horses. “We were at the age where we didn’t want to have the pressure of making it to an 8 a.m. class. We wanted to be on our time and go at our pace,” said Anita.

Anita has earned several awards through the Ride America program. For each 500 trail hours earned, APHA awards the rider, who is allowed to choose what they would like from a list of prizes. Anita has won a monogrammed headstall, monogrammed stirrups, and several other prizes. “My favorite award is the handmade headstall I received after I achieved my last 500 hours,” said Anita.

The Perry’s travel to several trail locations each year. Their favorite is Village Creek Park in Wynne, Arkansas. They also enjoy 7 Springs Lodge, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky, and Many Cedars in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

The couple says their absolute dream is to ride the trails at Big South Fork in east Tennessee. They plan to travel there in the summer of 2013. “We’ve never been to Big South Fork, but we’ve heard great things, and it is our dream to ride there,” said Anita.

The Perrys have a passion for trail riding and have met lots of people while participating in Ride America. They enjoy getting to spend time with friends they’ve met who enjoy trail riding as much as they do. “There is a couple from Huntsville that we meet and ride with sometimes,” said Anita.

Anita says she enjoys riding so much because no matter what is going on, riding just makes her feel comfortable. Riding and spending time with Chocolate allows her to experience peace. “I have a sense of peace, with nature and God when I’m on a trail,” Anita said.

While Anita was battling Cancer a few years back, her husband would come home from work and help her out to the barn. He would take care of getting Chocolate ready for Anita and helping her into the saddle. Anita would spend time out on the trail with Chocolate, time she credits with helping her through the cancer treatments.  “I had Chocolate and something fun to look forward to. I had a goal to reach and that really helped me through everything,” said Anita.

Anita is currently working on earning her next level. She currently has earned 1,800 hours and is working toward the 2,000 mark. Gene has earned 1,350 hours and is working toward earning 1,500.

“Gene has fewer hours earned than me because while I was battling cancer, he gave up time on his horse to help me ride mine. He took care of everything else. He sacrificed his hours to give me something fun,” said Anita. Anita says she doesn’t see a great difference between the types of people she met while showing and the people she has met trail riding. She believes horse people are the best people!

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