ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Those who dream of riding the range will be able to saddle up in Allen County this fall for a little shorter ride, if all goes well.

The Allen County Commissioners approved a $298,854 contract with Krafft Water Solutions LLC in St. Joe to create a 5.5 mile trail at the Allen County Sheriff’s training facility at Paulding and Adams Center roads.

Costs are largely covered by a $250,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources. Allen County is responsible for a 25% matching grant, or about $62,000.

“We have a very significant horse population in Allen County,” Commissioner Richard Beck said Friday after the meeting,. “At one time, we were second in the state in terms of horse population. There’s a lot of interest.”

The trail has expanded to nine miles with extra property acquired by the county and permission to ride from an adjacent farmer.

The trail, accessed by Paulding Road, will wind around the perimeter of the property, but steer clear of the shooting range and K-9 training center.

“There’s plenty of space,” said Beck, who said he is an “equine” person and spearheaded the effort after people asked him to look into it.

The path includes a wooded area and the adjacent 62 acres the county picked up. There is hope the trails will expand in the future.

When the trails open, there will be no horses to ride on a rental basis. Fees to use the trail will be on an honor system. Beck says there will be a well to water the horses, picnic tables and a trailhead to park horse trailers.

The cost of a horse trail is “significantly less” than a regular trail, and horse trails boost quality of life and raise property values, Beck said.

The county horse trail will be unique to the area, particularly because it will offer a therapeutic component for riders and an obstacle course. Horse riders will be able to go beyond a trot to a canter or gallop in one area, Beck said.