HOUGHTON - Riding horses is a relaxing experience for most, trotting along for miles at a time.
Yet some dare to go farther. That's the case for Taana Kalliainen and a local group of riders who headed downstate in September.
Kalliainen and six others participated in the Shore-to-Shore ride Sept. 9-19, traversing some 250 miles of Michigan on horseback. The ride, which runs from Oscoda to Empire, begins the journey in Lake Huron and finishes at Lake Michigan.
"I've done this ride before; it's a lot of fun," Kalliainen said, adding, "At least I think it is, anyway."
While Kalliainen enjoys the ride, it certainly is not for the faint of heart.
"It's a challenge," she said. "You're on the trail for at least six hours a day, and eight hours at the most.
"The terrain is very hilly," Kalliainen said. "You get a lot of single track and hit some two track, and we even got to ride underneath I-75 and pass the gates of Camp Grayling."
Kalliainen initially heard about the ride in 2005, and after some preparation, took part in her first race in 2006. She has now done three of them, and for this one, came more prepared - with an RV.
"The first two years we tented it," she said. "But this year I was done with sleeping on the ground."
Although the group heads down together and keeps each other company, Kalliainen said it's always nice to see some familiar faces.
"There's a lot of the same people that have done it in the past, and I knew a lot of them," she said. "It's a fun time."
Despite the challenge, however, the fulfillment from finishing - as well as the certificates and trophies - makes it all worth it.
"I's an accomplishment," Kalliainen said. "You put your horse in Lake Huron, then ride into Lake Michigan 10 days later."
For more information on rides like Shore-to-Shore, visit mtra.org.