Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Countdown to the Derby: Horse Riding at Little Creek Farm Conservancy

Posted By and on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 12:00 PM

  • photo compliments of author
We wouldn't dream of hoofing it to Churchill Downs without first becoming acquainted with the horses. Amy was already familiar, having ridden in the hunter-jumper seat from a very young age. Laura's experience with equines was limited to flat-palming apple slices to foals at 4H fairs.

Naturally the two of us saddled up at the Little Creek Farm and Conservancy off of Lawrenceville Highway to take a gander at their grounds and consult with Dana McDaniel one of the three resident instructors. Founded in 2004, the conservancy is a 40-acre farm home to over 40 privately owned horses. Steeped in Southern history, the land has played host to less welcome horsemen, as well - General Stoneman's Union Calvary once recouped there before marching toward the Battle of Atlanta. After a brief stint as a dairy farm in the 1920's, the land returned to the horses in 1958 and has remained faithful to them ever since.

Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by Dana, her assistant Tamara, and Ripple, the stable's hound-in-residence. They presented us with our two selected mounts: Ketch and Ink. Amy and Ketch, a spirited off-track Thoroughbred, were fast friends, only completing a few laps in the conservancy's outdoor ring before trotting and crossing cavaletti ground poles together. We like to think it was destiny: Amy has always been partial to tall, silvery steeds, and Ketch - flea-bitten gray and 15.3 hands - fit the bill to perfection. Ketch revealed his competitive streak, no doubt nurtured on the racetrack, when egged on by another horse, rising to the occasion in the ring and becoming fast and willful. Other than those ingrained tendencies, the only clue of his time on the circuit is a trademark tattoo on his inner lip.

  • photo compliments of author
The more sedate Ink was Laura's match. A tri-color paint measuring 15.1 hands off the ground, Ink was patient with her lack of experience, sauntering around the ring as she struggled to translate her legs into the English language of riding. Tamara and Dana's reassurances were of great comfort, and in no time they too were making their way around the ring in true English fashion.

Afterward, the lot of us were given a mounted tour of the conservancy's outdoor premises. We made our way fearlessly across South Peachtree Creek to their second outdoor ring, and back around the grounds to the stables and indoor arena. As we rode, it was difficult to believe such a sprawling preserve of wildflower-blanketed pastures could be placed so delicately in the middle of Decatur. Today, the conservancy stands as one of the few horse farms within the city limits, and is going to great lengths to maintain it. Throughout the year volunteers are welcome to take part in their Clean-up and Beautification Days. The newly refurbished barn and indoor arena is a testament to the volunteers' dedication and pride in the grounds.

This year the proceeds from the conservancy's Derby party, sponsored by Four Roses Bourbon and taking place at the Corner Pub in Decatur, will go toward a complete outdoor arena renovation. Patrons and DeKalb County residents can contact the conservancy for a Hands-on Barn Tour any day of the week - a member of their volunteer staff and a benevolent whinny will assuredly be there to greet you.

Tags: , , , ,

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Latest in Fresh Loaf

More by Amy McDaniel

More by Laura Straub

The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown
The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown

Search Events

Search Fresh Loaf

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation