Horseback Riding Trails at Red Gate Farms

Tucked away on the edge of Chatham Parkway, less than eight miles from the city center, Red Gate Farms is a hidden gem beyond its status as an iconic wedding venue. Granted, the 90-year-old, 440-acre property has four separate wedding venues, but did you know that there are also 30 RV sites, a pool, and horseback riding?

Yes, 10 minutes from downtown Savannah you can ride horseback for an hour and explore the winding trails and lush green pastures of the farm. If you really love horses, Red Gate offers beginner western riding lessons every Tuesday and Thursday.

Barn Manager, Savannah Fritz, grew up on horseback. She has trained over 500 horses and sees working at Red Gate as a way to keep doing something she loves while going to school. Currently a senior at Georgia Southern, Fritz and three trail guides take care of the facility’s 11 horses.

“I don’t remember my first time on horseback,” said Fritz, leading a brown Quarter Horse with soft, hardy eyes towards me. “But it’s fun to be around people who are experiencing their first time on horseback. It’s Dooley.

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I take the reins from Dooley and speak quietly to him, remembering my introduction to horses that summer after the third year I had sold enough Girl Scout cookies to pay for the camp. I signed up for the equine care course and I was won over. Since then I have never owned a horse but have ridden and groomed a lot.

Savannah Fritz rides with one of the horses at Red Gate Farms

Being here – in a seemingly bucolic respite away from the hustle and bustle of Savannah – on horseback makes me relive all those great times and summers spent outdoors on horseback.

Fritz and his mount, Mystic, lead the way. We maneuver around the property’s four miles of trails under oak and pine trees, along the fish pond and through a series of tall grass meadows. In the distance, woodpeckers, blue jays, and a faint call of a yellow-billed cuckoo. The sky is a startling blue although ominous clouds threaten typical late afternoon storms of the season.

“It has rained a lot recently, so some trails are wet and a bit overgrown,” says Fritz. “The ground here is sandy, and when wet it is abrasive to horses’ hooves. We put them on boots to protect their feet. But horses are sometimes a little nervous when wet, so they may want to go faster.

The soggy meadow animates them indeed. Horses climb higher, faster, in tune with their body and their landscape. Dooley’s ears prick up, and it looks like the two animals are ready to receive the signal. Of course we don’t, but it’s palpable how much both horses would love to dash forward.

Red Gate Farms began in 1931 as a 440 acre family dairy. Over the years, the business has been the economic roller coaster of farming, with each generation struggling to keep the land in the family. Innovative entrepreneurship was the key. By the 1980s, the family offered horse boarding, riding lessons and Quarter Horse races. In the 1990s, they started renting high quality RV pitches. Revered these days primarily for its idyllic wedding settings, Red Gate Farms, however, is clearly back in the horse business.

Savannah Fritz enjoys a hike at Red Gate Farms.

We end the walk by passing through the attic building recently transformed into a wedding hall. Its floor-to-ceiling doors open to some of the property’s best views of the property’s pond and 300-year-old holm oaks. Our horses are regaining strength. We’re almost back at the barn, and they know it.

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At the stable, we dismount and I hug Dooley and scratch him before Fritz brings him back to the other horses. Outside the paddock awaits the director of operations, Richard Smith. He is the grandson of Red Gate matriarch Patricia Smith and the fourth generation who runs the business.

Smith and I discuss COVID and how the family has kept everything going during the pandemic. Riding and catering the crowded RV have proven to be unexpected successes – both efforts have helped keep the farm afloat throughout 2020. Currently, they are slated until 2022 with weddings and private events.

“We all love the idea of ​​being a part of something that we can be a part of. It’s a privilege, ”Smith reflected of his work at Red Gate. “I am grateful to be here on family property to build a legacy and work to keep this land beautiful for another 90 years.”

Clyde P. Johnson