Haven for horses and humans near Madison, Georgia.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Owned and operated by Inge Hartley Wendling and her family since 1991, Southern Cross Ranch in Madison, Ga., is a horse breeding and sales farm combined with a 16-room bed and breakfast.
Home to nearly 200 Paint and Quarter horses, Southern Cross is best known for its horseback riding opportunities, which include beginners’ lessons, guided tours and unguided riding opportunities (for overnight guests with proven skills).
“We have horses for every level of rider,” says David May, guide. “Every horse a guest rides has first been trained by us for at least a year.” Guided rides are in small groups of three to seven riders on average, with riders grouped by skill level.
Day visitors and overnight guests are welcome to join the scheduled one- or two-hour horseback rides that begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily, space permitting (reservations required).
On these 400 acres of rolling green fields and mature woodlands, horses outnumber guests by more than six to one. The philosophy is, “It can’t be a horse lover’s paradise if it’s not a horse’s paradise first.”
Whether you’re already a horse fan or want to learn more about them, there’s a guest package designed to suit your needs. Whether staying overnight or visiting for a few hours, every guest has unlimited opportunities to photograph and interact with horses—the horse barn is never closed so you can interact with horses any time.
Before a ride, you’ll help groom and tack your assigned horse. Whether you want a leisurely ride through lush woods or to canter across open pastures, there are six miles of trails to explore.
As an overnight guest you can book a package that includes rides or not. If you do ride, the horse you’re assigned is yours for the duration of your stay (unless you request a change). If you’re a returning guest and want to ride the same horse you’ve ridden previously, make your request when booking your reservation.
Each guestroom is individually decorated in either a Western or Southern theme. All rooms have an upscale vibe and plush furnishings; some boast Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces and other luxuries. Three meals are served buffet-style in the dining hall every day.
When not riding, overnight guests can enjoy the pool, hot tub, game room, biking and hiking trails, or just sit and gaze out across the pastures.
“We’re old fashioned,” says Karen Roggenkamp, office manager. “You must call to make a reservation because there are so many variables.” A package custom-tailored your needs sets the tone for the gracious hospitality you’ll enjoy as a guest.
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
- Smoking is prohibited in guestrooms
- Children age 4 and up are welcome
- Pets not allowed; stable stalls may be rented for $15/night
- Heated pool
- Fire pit
- Game room
- TV room
- Sun room
- DVD library
- Hiking trails
- Mountain biking trails
- Day guest rides are $45-$75; half- and full-day packages are also available
Southern Cross Guest Ranch
1670 Bethany Church Road
Madison, Georgia 30650
Odds of Encountering Children: Varies but relatively low. Riders are grouped by skill level. Youngsters under age four are not permitted to ride; children age four to nine may ride tandem with an adult. If you prefer an adults-only riding party, make your request while booking your reservation.
– Photos courtesy Southern Cross Ranch
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.