The night of September 18, ten Roanoke College students traveled an hour from campus to Reba Farm Inn & Saddle Soar Equitainment near Bedford Virginia for a twenty four hour trail ride broken up by a stay at the Inn some miles from the farm. The journey began at noon on Saturday when the group of students, eighty percent of whom were freshmen new to the Equestrian club, gathered into cars with overnight bags and optimistic spirits.
Upon arrival to the farm, Ron and Kathy – the owners of all seventy-seven horses and guides on the trail rides – explained to the group what the next couple of days would look like. Ron also asked who in the group had really ridden before, more than in a ring or a head to tail walking ride, because “we would be really riding today.” And after the two hours spent in the barn, bonding with their horses, grooming them, bug spraying, saddling, putting on a riding screen to protect from bugs and sun, and, of course, actually getting in the saddle, everyone in the group really did ride.
There were two students in the group who had ridden many times before and one who had never been on a horse. Regardless of these discrepancies, all the horses, and the riders on them, cantered or galloped up the hills to reach the open land at the tops of small mountains where they could see for miles in all directions. The rides were thrilling, and the views were beautiful.
In addition to the winding trails, small streams to cross, and logs that were jumped over, students also spent time in a fenced-in area where there were jumps and obstacle courses that could be practiced to hone in on particular skills. The day was not done until all the riders were down, horses unsaddled, groomed, and released into the space outside of the ring, which stretched indefinitely far back into the hills. From there, everyone trooped back to the quaint inn where food was served and beds were a welcome comfort for aching bones. The next morning was a second opportunity for riding, and the speed was consistently increased, but steadied, making even the newest riders come away feeling as though they really had ridden.
Roanoke College’s Equestrian club meets regularly and often visits this farm for short and long trail rides as well as workshops on different aspects of riding. The club also invites guest speakers and opportunities for community service. To learn more about opportunities such as this overnight trail ride and others that are offered, be sure to see their Facebook page or visit their meetings on Tuesday nights at 5 in Trout 207.