Equestrian Affection Runs Deep in Pulaski, TN

In Pulaski-Giles County it is not unusual to see a horse in every yard.

By
Kelli Levey
On Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 17:17
Pulaski

As you travel throughout Pulaski-Giles County it’s not unusual to see a horse in every yard.

In fact, horse enthusiast Bobby Bowers says it’s unusual to not see one. As soon as someone moves into the area and buys a few acres, he says, they almost inevitably adopt a horse or two.

That’s why Bowers and his wife, Bernadette, moved to Pulaski County from just outside Nashville in mid-2007. Though his commute to work is 80 miles each way, he considers it “worth it, and more, to be able to live right here.”

“We live in a horse community, where friends can just ride to your house or you can ride to theirs without trailering or going to any trouble,” he says. “It’s a way of life. It’s just the way we like things.”

Bowers says his wife got him started in fox hunting a few years ago, and now they both participate at least twice a week.

“I guess it’s considered a hoity-toity thing to do, and a lot of people who are into it do have a lot of green, but a lot of people are like me – who have to do it on a budget,” Bobby Bowers says. “It’s totally worth it. It’s almost like snow skiing: a really big adrenaline rush. Once you feel that, you just want to keep going out there.”

A fellow fox-hunting enthusiast, Keith Jackson, often leads the riders on Wednesday excursions across 30,000 acres.

“You hear the hounds barking and the other riders – it’s very exciting,” says Jackson, whose day job as equestrian director at Milky Way Farms gives him free rein of 1,100 acres. While the barns and training track of the Depression-era digs are still being restored, they are being put to good use, and the 12 miles of riding trails provide ample exercise for the resident horses and those that who come in from neighboring farms. A polo practice field attracts additional riders.

Jackson’s own farm, about four miles from Milky Way, typically houses about 30 horses. His wife is active in endurance racing, and they also raise large-breed horses for hunting.

Jackson listed some of the other equine offerings in the area: a driving association, a dressage association, several trail-riding clubs and numerous shows and rodeos.

Another organization, the nonprofit Leg Up Therapeutic Riding Center, provides recreational horseback riding to bring physical, cognitive, social and emotional benefits to the riders, says founder Rebecca McManus, previously a public school teacher for 20 years.

“Because our community has such a true love for horses, most people already know how much the animal/human relationship helps them and could help others,” McManus says. “Just about everyone has had contact with horses – [they] have at least seen them or petted them or maybe even ridden them – those first sessions are easier.”

The rider helps groom the horse then rides for 30 to 45 minutes, surrounded by a team of a leader and one or two side walkers. The horses are carefully selected for temperament then trained for the therapy program.

For those with physical disabilities, the horse provides a sense of freedom and accomplishment, McManus says.

“The rhythm of the horse mimics the human gait, so if you don’t have the use of your legs, this can be very close to the feeling of walking – and very exciting,” she explains.

Jackson says he expects additional horse-related businesses and organizations to sprout up around the area.

“The appeal here is the beauty, the rolling green hills and spectacular views,” Jackson says. “There are endless things for the horse enthusiast to do in this area, but the riding is the key. Mostly, I encourage everyone to just get on their horse and ride and remember why they love doing that.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli Levey is a 20-year veteran of newspaper reporting/writing who now works in the communications department of a major university.