Sunday, February 15, 2009
Southern Cross Guest Ranch - Part Deux
Since my last post regarding Southern Cross Guest Ranch was made via cell phone...here is my long review (I could say so many other great things, BUT....it'd be a novel!)
We just got back from our weekend at Southern Cross Guest Ranch in Madison, Georgia. Two thumbs up. If you're a horseperson who just wants a nice...relaxing...weekend around horses (or bring your own), this is the vacation for you.
Set among old horse farms and farmhouses, Southern Cross is a horse oasis that is close to Athens, Georgia and relatively close to Atlanta as well. It's about a 40 minute drive from Atlanta or so.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, and we got there just in time to pick up the afternoon trail ride. We went to the stables wherein we were matched with our first horses. Although everyone else had chosen their horses, since we were experienced riders we got horses......for experienced people. We were given a lead rope, brought "our" horses up, groomed our horses, got our saddles, saddled them (those that didn't know how were instructed and assisted), bridled, and then walked them to the "staging area." Girths were checked again, and we mounted (western only, but you can bring your own horses and/or your own saddle).
Along with our guide, Blaine, we were introduced to the trails, given the rules of the trail system, and shown how if you wanted to head back to the barn, the horses were all on auto-pilot. No, they didn't take off, and they weren't barn sour, they just could lead you back to the barn (on the trails).
After riding, we take our horses back, untack them, groom them, and put them back in their pastures.
We went up to the main house, were given the tour, shown our room (the Iroquois - king size bed, twin bed, flat screen TV, DVD player, private bath, and a balcony/deck).
Dinners are held in the dining house and prepared by great cooks. It is a buffet set up, but the food is GREAT! You will NOT go hungry, and they do accept special requests/needs for others. Steaks, fish (fried, broiled, and grilled), pizza and fries for kids, a fresh salad bar with fresh homemade salads, and desserts. The dining hall is open 24/7 in case you want a late night snack or a drink (which is great as we always buy a case of water before going anywhere...this time....we didn't). There are fresh baked cookies, etc.
Back to the horses (smile).....trail rides are 9:15 am and 2:15 pm. Guests can ride up to 2 hours each ride. The horses are for different levels, sizes of riders, etc. They have a Percheron for parents needing to "double up" (smaller children) as well. They offer adult and children riding helmets (I brought my own), and you can also ride in the sand arena - W/T/C (if you know how). Complimentary riding lessons are also given if you've never ridden before, want to know how to trot or canter better, or just want to learn the ins and outs of your horses before heading on the trail. It was also neat to see the awards there at the main house for champion stallion, etc. for their beautiful horses.
The main house has several rooms, a pool, a hot tub, a DVD library, an Aquamassage, and more. The dining house has several seating rooms including outdoor porches. There is also a game room with darts, foosball, and billiards.
It was wonderful and sad to leave there today. It feels as though you're staying at a wealthy relative's house for the weekend. You meet wonderful people - both riders and non riders alike, and it is a truly great and refreshing experience.
I recommend it for young couples, older couples, families with young children, and horse people in general!
Overall - two thumbs up!