We drove about forty-five minutes south of here to a campground that is designed just for horse folk. It has stalls, Ferrier facilities and other amenities to make it easy to camp with horses. Everyone there rides.
And those who have lost the physical ability to ride still use horses to get around.
My brother in law and his wife have camped there for years and have helped to develop the campground into what it is today. They have owned and ridden horses their entire marriage, so we toddled on down to their site and spent the day with them and their horses.
We rode for about three and a half hours in the morning and another two and a half hours in the afternoon. It was absolutely wonderful. The cell service was non- existent there, so we weren’t bothered by any real connection to civilization. And we rode along trails that wound through the hills and woods and are accessible only by horse and foot.
That particular area used to be home to scattered residents who were displaced when the federal government forced them out many years ago to bring the Tennessee Valley Authority and electricity into the area and to create a large recreational area for the public. It was a very controversial move back then, and scattered throughout the area are remnants of homesteads and small family cemeteries. This particular one bears the stone of a young man who was a drummer in the Civil War.
This used to be moonshine country, and it’s easy to see why. You could get very lost in there, very quickly. Fortunately, my sister in law knows every little nook and cranny of that place. This photo, although not very good, pretty much sums up the day: her leading the way, and me trying to take pictures without running into anything or falling off.
The best pictures were probably to be had on the first ride we took because of the lakes and eagles we saw, but Hula left her expensive camera at the campsite the first time around because she thought it best to have both hands available, given her lack of equestrian skills. I did take it the second time out and managed a few shots, but mostly I was mesmerized by the scenery. It was a spectacular fall day, and even the blandest of fields were lively with color.
Teen Angel’s fall came near the end of the ride when her horse took an unexpected jump over a log that she wasn’t prepared for. She was actually very lucky she wasn’t seriously hurt, but thankfully her pride and her fanny were the only things bruised. I was proud of her though because she got right back on and rode to the campsite.
We wrapped up the evening around the campfire with some good conversation. All in all, it was an excellent day. We even had a great sunset.
It was a badly needed day of rest and regeneration for us and a reunion with family we haven’t seen in a very long time. That alone was worth the sore bottoms.