Trail Riding With A Step Above Stables
I'm not really sure when I decided that we'd include a trail ride on horseback during our recent vacation, but I know with certainty that it was a GREAT decision! And though neither my wife, nor I, are seasoned riders, the possibility existed that one of us, if not both, could have had a miserable time. In fact, I told the owner of the stables in which we visited, two of the last three times that I've ridden have been memorable for the wrong reasons. I remember vividly the time that a guide let my horse's reigns go when we were about 1/4 mile from the barn heading out on a trail ride only to have my horse do a complete turn around and race back to the barn. I was about 14 years old and was holding on for my life! All ended well though, I'm thankful to say. A few years after that while participating in another trail ride, the horse in front of mine tried to kick him, thus causing my horse to stand nearly straight up!! Wow! What would you do? Well, I can promise you that I didn't yell "Hi ho Silver!". Again, I held on for my life. Needless to say, there was a bit of trepidation heading into this trail ride; just a little, not a lot.
I had come to learn about A Step Above Stables through my Life Outside My Door Facebook page. Through various postings of our past trips to North Georgia, we "liked" each others site, and before long the idea was born. It was after weeks of seeing pics and postings relating to their business, that I decided that this would be a cool idea for my wife and I, so we made it happen. This wasn't going to be an ordinary trail ride for us, however, it was the very first one that my wife and I have ever taken together in nearly 22 years of marriage (November 3 will be 22 years!). I really hoped this occasion would be special, and it was.
We spoke to Curtis (owner) early in the week and scheduled our ride for Friday, the last day of our vacation. Even during our brief conversation with Curtis, we were made to feel as though A Step Above Stables would be a good choice. He spent time inquiring from us our body size and our experience levels. And while I didn't know this at the time, that information was vital to them so that they could place us on the correct horse, thus ensuring us of a quality experience. I guess I just expected to call, make reservations, and then show up and ride. I was in for a surprise. It was much more than that.
Prior to arriving at the stables, we decided to have lunch at Pappy's Riverside Restaurant (I do not recommend that you have a large lunch prior to riding). This was another site that I had become familiar with through Facebook and had placed on our "things to do around Blairsville" list. It was here that I had perhaps the greatest hamburger that my teeth have ever sank into! It was purely amazing. My wife had a pulled-pork sandwich, and she said the same thing about it. As a quick recommendation, Pappy's is a place that you'll have to try for yourself! As we were leaving, I mentioned to our waitress/server that we had learned of Pappy's on Facebook and that we operated the Life Outside My Door site. A few minutes later, Jan (the owner of A Step Above Stables) came outside and caught us prior to driving off and introduced herself. It was the first time that we had actually met, though we had communicated a bit through Facebook. She was aware that we were scheduled for a ride and she wanted to take time to assure us that her son, Jeremy, would be our guide and take good care of us. We enjoyed meeting Jan and we realize that the encounter greatly added to the satisfaction that we found at A Step Above Stables. (Thanks Jan).
When we arrived at the stables, we walked up to the barn and met Curtis. After introducing ourselves, he made us feel right at home while we waited for Jeremy to return from the trail ride that he was currently leading. It was during this time that we were allowed to tour the barn area and any questions that we had were answered. Curtis also spent time sharing with me the philosophy of how they choose to conduct their business. He placed a priority on us, the customer, to ensure that we had a great ride and a memorable experience. We were not left wanting! He delivered on every thing he said he would! It was also during this time that he explained to me why he had previously inquired about our size, weight, and experience level - to match us up to the appropriate horse. Again, as I stated previously, I would have never thought that mattered. It just goes to show that they do genuinely care and that they definitely know what they are doing. While waiting on Jeremy to return, we enjoyed our time chatting with Curtis and getting to know more about him, Jan, and A Step Above Stables.
If you are looking to purchase a horse, A Step Above Stables is YOUR Place! These are few pics of some of the gorgeous animals that they have...there were many more out in the pasture.
Soon, Jeremy returned with the guests that he had taken out along the trail. I paid particular attention to the looks on their faces and I was rewarded with big smiles. Clearly, they were proud of what had just taken place. After taking time for a few pictures they soon departed and we were next! Kim, Curtis, and Jeremy assisted us in getting on our horses. I was riding a Percheron named Big John and my wife rode Bill (he was a mix between a Morgan and Quarter Horse-I think). After Curtis and Jeremy went over a few last minute details with us, we set off down the driveway and over to the trail. The ride was on!
Curtis goes over some last minute details.
Kim and Curtis assisting my wife.
Kim giving some last minute instructions.
Karen is ready!
We are ready!
My lovely wife posing with her Breast Cancer Awareness shirt. We were given a discount for that!
Another pic of my beautiful bride! See how happy she is?
It didn't take us long to get to know Jeremy. He is a talker like me. Well, maybe he talks a little bit more than me, but he had stories to tell and we were good listeners. We found him to be very friendly, knowledgeable, and accommodating. The perception that we gleaned from him was that he was there for us and time never seemed to be an issue. In fact, I felt as though we were welcome to ride all day and that says a lot about our experience. I also feel as though it speaks volumes about a business that can make you feel that way and I just can't say enough about how much fun we had! Many of Jeremy's stories were quite hilarious and made us laugh out loud, and still others were amazing and at times, personal. He was excellent!
While the trail ride itself went well, the horse that my wife was on seemed a bit hungry at times, and since she was in the middle and I was bringing up the rear, Big John and I had to pause on more than one occasion to allow her horse to stop and grab a snack off of a nearby bush. Bill also seemed to be particularly fond of mud puddles and took an opportunity or two to splash around a bit, before pausing to take a sip (the slurping sound was extremely funny!). During one instance, I had to back Big John up a bit to avoid being splashed by the water. Instances like this were few and far between and once we mentioned to Karen to steer Bill away from all of the snacks and keep him on course, we were able proceed nicely. It was during those times that I realized that my horse, Big John, was a seasoned veteran. I never had to hold back on the reigns or tell him when it was time to go. He knew what he was doing, and I found that to be very assuring. We bonded very well...LOL.
While we had spent over an hour on the trail, all good things seem to end and this was no exception. Soon, we found ourselves on the trail headed back to the stables. It was at this point that I made the startling discovery that I had dropped my camera somewhere along the trail!! Oh no! I was embarrassed and angry at myself at the same time. While the camera itself was replaceable, I had pictures from the day's activities on there! When I mentioned this to Jeremy, with a very assuring voice (cool, calm, collected) he assured me that when we got back to the barn that he'd get on his four wheeler and head back out and find the camera. He even went as far to make me a promise! I'm happy to say that he did exactly as he promised! He went back out and found it! Again, I say that to emphasize the kind of service that we received. It was exceptional!!
In closing, I'd like to summarize this experience by saying that A Step Above Stables clearly exceeded our expectations. And while I really didn't know exactly what I expected other than a good time, we had an experience far better than that. To say that we are satisfied would be an understatement! Not only are we satisfied, but we are grateful to have chosen A Step Above Stables and will definitely do so again in the future. We found them to be very personable, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable. They made us feel as if their success depended on our experience (it would be nice if all businesses did that)! The horses were very gentle and the scenery along the trail with the mountains in the background was fantastic! And from what I've learned since our visit, A Step Above Stables is also very active in supporting the local community and that is pleasing to us. Curtis even had a few recommendations for us (we didn't get back to Pappy's to try the dessert though-we will save that for our next trip).
From left to right: Curtis, Jeremy, and Kim (Jan - not pictured)
A Step Above Stables is located at: 696 Mauney Circle, Blairsville, Ga. 30512 (706-745-9051)
To learn more about A Step Above Stables, please visit their website at: www.astepabovestables.com
You may also visit their Facebook page here: A Step Above Stables
Their blog is here: A Step Above blog