Special Photo: Ashley Ward, of Moreland, Ga., takes "Blue Masquerade" through the pony's first jump.
Horses roam about rolling pastures, offering picturesque sights of a Southern Crescent, semi-rural setting, just miles away from what has been decreed the world’s busiest airport.
A recent horse show signaled a rekindling of equestrian prominence in the area. Earlier this month, Full Cry Farm in Locust Grove hosted its first Full Cry Farm Fall Hunter Show, which attracted 30 hunter-jumper horses and riders, from Lamar, Coweta, Fayette, Henry, and Bibb counties.
“I think it’s a great resurgence for our local riders to have a place to go and have fun and compete,” said Adrianne Smith, a McDonough resident, who boards her two horses, Brigadoon, 19, and Final Fling, 6, at Full Cry Farm.
The farm is owned by Debbie Lane, formerly of Florida. Lane, who owns six horses, is a professional rider, trainer and instructor. She trains at the farm, located roughly a mile from a major interstate highway, and a growing, historic downtown.
Henry County, nonetheless, has maintained its bucolic character.
Frank Hancock, the University of Georgia Cooperative Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent in the county, said there is still a contingency of horses in a county that once was among the six-fastest-growing urban counties in the nation.
“There’s a lot of folks that have got two or three horses,” Hancock said. “It’s in excess of a thousand head of horses. There is also a lot of pasture in the county that gets rented to keep horses.
“There are horses in places where you really wouldn’t expect to see one,” he continued. “The horse industry is a big business. People who own horses also own horse trailers and pick-up trucks to pull the trailers.”
Full Cry Farm’s owner, Lane, said this month’s horse show was much larger than organizers envisioned. “It went over really well,” said Lane. “We’ll, hopefully, have two or three shows next year.”
The purpose of the Full Cry Farm Fall Hunter Show –– an unrated hunter-jumper competition –– was to help riders prepare for regional shows involving rated competition, according to Smith, also a spokeswoman for the farm.
“The weather was perfect as more than 30 horses and riders from around the Southern Crescent competed for a first place, blue ribbon,” said Smith. “Horses and riders navigated an eight-jump course, and were judged on movement, manners [etiquette], and way of going, particularly while jumping fences.”
Smith said when she first moved to Henry County, there were several places to go to compete. However, over the course of the past 20 years, people have relocated their shows, or just gone out of business.
Lane said the idea to host a show stemmed from the suggestions of the farm’s new hunter-jumper trainer, Scott Armour. Armour pointed to increasing interests in the sport.
Lane will work with Armour, as her farm’s dressage trainer. She pointed to decades of experience, having begun riding at the age of 10, with her mother and sister, who are now deceased.
She said her mother, Nancy Lane, started her daughters, Barry and Debbie, in riding lessons at a very young age, teaching them herself.
The Full Cry Farm was established in Henry County in the early 1990s, as a boarding and training equestrian facility specializing in the disciplines of dressage and hunter-jumpers.
To learn more about the farm, visit the web site at www.fullcryfarm.com.