Experience the Joys of Horseback Riding at Walking Mountain Ranch
Writer / Julie Yates
Just northeast of Knox, lying along State Road 23, is the village of Grovertown. Close by is Walking Mountain Ranch, a small-gaited horse breeding farm for registered Rocky Mountain and registered Tennessee Walking horses. Owners Tabitha and James Riffey share their love of horses through guided trail rides and lessons for people of all ages.
The business is truly a family endeavor. The four Riffey children, aged 6 to 11, help out at the farm. There is a very large, covered arena-like barn structure for instruction, plus a vast amount of land for riding. Part of the Riffeys’ land, which includes 80 acres of wooded trails, was once owned by Tabitha’s grandparents.
“It was my grandma who introduced me to horses,” Tabitha Riffey says. “She would horse ride with me when I was a baby. It was like a rocking chair and I would fall asleep. When my kids were young I did the same thing with them. We give beginning lessons to teach the basic skills.
“A good foundation is given to get riders ready for more advanced levels such as dressage, western dressage, and tricks such as barrel jumping,” she continues. “I especially enjoy working with people or horses that had a bad experience or beginning.”
Trail riding is a great family activity, and Riffey patiently gives plenty of instruction and safety knowledge before a group starts out. There are multiple trails to choose from, so each time participates ride, they see different sights. In addition, pony parties are offered. To participate, children must be 3 years old and up, but 2-year-olds and below can enjoy petting and brushing the smaller horses, ponies and minis.
“Our goal is to be open for trail riding all year long,” Riffey says. “The fall is so beautiful and when we have the cover of snow it’s wonderful to be the first riders of the day. We have open pasture but also a large wooded area. There is the option of riding on the road, but that is for riders that have experience.”
The Riffeys breed and raise their own horses. Riffey trains them and gets them ready to ride when they reach the age of 4. She will also work with owners and their horses to maintain gaits, as well as help horses that have a history of spooking easily and have trust issues.
“We have had several rescues,” Riffey says. “People have contacted us when they find horses in abusive or bad situations. We work to re-home the horses or find a different foster-care situation for them.”
Trail rides and lessons are available by appointment only. They can be booked via Walking Mountain Ranch’s Facebook page, and by calling or texting 574-249-9149. A phone message is preferred for groups larger than four people. Hours of operation are usually 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but may vary with the season and the day.
Appointment slots refer to the Eastern Time Zone. Information needed includes the number of riders and their ages. When leaving a message to inquire about lessons, it is helpful to include what days of the week are preferred. Trail rides, lessons and pony rides are usually about $20 an hour. The fee can vary if groups become large. Venmo, Zelle and cash payments are accepted.
No experience is necessary. Come take a lesson or ride the trails and enjoy a relaxing outdoor activity. Leave technology behind and treat your family to an hour of horse riding.
Walking Mountain Ranch is located at 8605 East 200 North in Grovertown.