Derby Winner’s Estate and Trail

Merlin a Thoroughbred and Percheron mix

A horse galloping in a field epitomizes natural grace.  The horse striding powerfully on the ground with hooves thundering and its mane and tail fanned out in the air.  I guess you could call me a horse lover.

I spent a day indulging in my love of horse, nature and discovery and I even got to walk a new trail.   I went to the Danada Forest Preserve, 834 acres, and the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton, Illinois.

horses in a meadow

horses in a meadow

Danada (Dan +Ada = Danada) is named for Dan and Ada Rice.  It was their estate for horse breeding with stables and race track on the grounds.  They raised champion Thoroughbred racehorses.  Those horses raced in the Kentucky Derby.  In 1965, their Thoroughbred named Lucky Debonair won the Kentucky Derby.  In 1966,  Advocate won the race, while another one of their horses placed second.

I rode to Danada to soak up the horseracing history and environment.  I wanted to see horses and enjoy the great outdoors.

There was a downpour of rain earlier in the day.  When I arrived it had ended, and the sun was shining.  I went for a walk through garden paths, barn, and by corrals during my visit.

If you’re a horse lover and Kentucky Derby enthusiast, you can visit the house, center and training race track like a shrine.  While you are there you can visit the horses and the trail.  I think children will enjoy it too.

There are Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Percherons, Mustangs, Shetland Pony and Appaloosa mixes.   I walked through a formal garden, sensory garden, and native flowers garden.  I explored the stables and training race track.  I learned about horse rehabilitation.  Then I hit trail that goes to Rice Lake on one end and by Herrick Lake on the other end.  There is a total of three miles of trail in thirty-five acres of restored forest and prairie.

Oh, and did I mention the horses and the barnyard cats they are quite chummy.  Most of horses are a mix of breeds that I mentioned in an earlier paragraph.  A Percheron is a French draft horse that is descendant from Arabian stock as is the thoroughbred.  The Percheron is large at 15 to 18 hands high and weighing between 1,500 to 2,600 pounds.

A Clydesdale, well think the Budweiser beer, is a Scottish draft horse that is 16 to 18 hands high and weighs 1,800 to 2,000 pounds.

Thoroughbred, it’s a race horse, is descendant from Arabian stock.  You’ll see a characteristic pie-shaped neck.  It is 15 to 17 hands high and weighs 1,000 to 1,300 pounds.  Appaloosa, spotted beauty, is 14 to 16 hands high and weighs 950 to 1,250 pounds.

An American Quarter Horse, an American breed, can run up to 55 miles per hour.  It is used for roping, barrel racing, ranching and trick riding.  An American Quarter Horse is 14 to 16 hands high and weighs 1,000 to 1,300 pounds.

A Shetland Pony, also Scottish descent, 7 to 11 hands high and weighs 150 to 250 pounds.  I’m not sure why horses are measured in hands.  It’s what I’ve always gone by.

The whole place is open to the public with classes and events of the equine kind. I would like to go back and brush up on my riding skills on a western saddle.   I’m rusty at riding.

You know when you’re rusty at riding the next day or later that night.  If you have ridden before, you know what I mean.

Here is my photo essay of my visit.  You can look at the pictures and you don’t have to watch where you step.

Danada Equestrian Center with gardens and manicured lawns.

Danada Center

back of center on the way to the stables

Barnyards cats are good mousers or mouse catchers.  They seem to peacefully coexist with the horses.  I once knew of a horse that had a goat for a friend.

This is an exhibit of different kinds of therapeutic shoes that are shod on horses undergoing rehabilitation.

therapeutic horse shoes

This is a useful exhibit with pictures of a horse’s different expressions displaying different emotions.

horse body language

Merlin was very sociable.  He is displaying a relaxed expression.

These two horses were separated from each other, but they got as close as they could to be together.

Grace a Quarter Horse and Percheron mix; Little June a Percheron

Nick is a spirited roan Appaloosa mix.  He has his ears forward and nostrils flared in the picture.  He ran up and charged the gate.  I knew the gate would hold, and I got the photo.  He also rolled around on the wet grass.  He was very playful.

Nick an Appaloosa and Clydesdale mix

Those two stood around and ate.

Tucker a Quarter Horse and Welsh Pony mix; Blaze a Quarter Horse

sensory garden

formal garden

Which horse do you like the best?

Nick is my favorite horse.

Happy trails to you!


One response to “Derby Winner’s Estate and Trail

  1. Pingback: Guide to Five Conservatories Around Chicago | Canoe Communications·

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