Consider “End of the Trail” Horseback Riding when Visiting Cherokee, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

End of the Trail Horseback Riding Sign, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

End of the Trail Horseback Riding Sign, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

End of the Trail horseback riding provides a refreshing and enjoyable riding experience in the mountains of Cherokee, North Carolina.  Owned by Mr. Goodlow Bark, riders follow a trail up and down a scenic mountain for about one hour.  Atop the mountain, riders take in the beautiful mountain vistas, with views into Tennessee on a clear day.

Riding with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Riding with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

My family have been return customers of End of the Trail for about six or seven years.  Mr. Goodlow is friendly, professional, and easy to talk with.  He is a Cherokee American Indian with a high respect and appreciation for nature and all of its creatures.  This is evident in his work ethic and care that he provides to his horses.

Enjoying the Ride with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Enjoying the Ride with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Riding with End of the Trail is the perfect experience for people of any level of riding ability.  The ride provides individuals with the relaxing and refreshing experience of getting back to nature in beautiful Cherokee, North Carolina.  My family and I make a concerted effort ride with End of the Trail on each of our vacations to North Carolina, and feel that our visit is incomplete if we do not.  Our horseback ride with End of the Trail is definitely a great highlight of each of our visits to Cherokee!

An Amazing Day at the Circus! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My Son Squeezing my Clown Nose at the Circus, Duluth, Georgia, February 21, 2015

My Son Squeezing my Clown Nose at the Circus, Duluth, Georgia, February 21, 2015

Yesterday, my son and I went to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, Georgia!  What an absolutely fabulous and fun time we had! The circus performance was so much more and better than I ever imagined it would be!  Oh my gosh!  I have never seen any performance quite as amazing and incredible as that which I saw yesterday at the circus!  I recommend to anyone who can go, to see these wonderful and astounding performances.

Alexander Lacey Hugging a Leopard

Alexander Lacey Hugging a Leopard

At the circus, my son and I sat in the third row, right up in front. I got great tickets from StubHub.com for $25 each only a couple of days before the show. It was incredible to save about $40 on the ticket prices, and still get such fantastic seats! I still can’t believe it!  The money I saved was then spent on food and souvenirs. Thank you, StubHub!

Alexander Lacey with the Big Cats

Alexander Lacey with the Big Cats

There were so many performances and shows that my son and I enjoyed seeing at the circus. Alexander Lacey – the lion tamer – put on a great show with several lions and tigers doing many tricks.  We had prime seats to watch as he rubbed a lion’s tummy, and kissed lions and tigers. He also rode through the arena in a fancy, motorized circus car with a leopard that he hugged and kissed!

Elephants Standing on their Hind Legs

Elephants Standing on their Hind Legs

We watched as Joseph Frisco, III, and Mario Bovio superbly-handled up to six elephants at a time. There was one portion of the show in which four elephants stood up on their hind legs, with most of them placing their front feet on the backs of the other elephants. It was really incredible to see!

Some of the Many Circus Performers

Some of the Many Circus Performers

We saw the Tuniziani Troupe perform on the flying trapeze, with at least one performer doing a triple somersault while flying through the air. There were the men of the Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe whose acrobatics included jumping through hoops that were up to ten feet off of the floor. The women of the Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe skillfully spun and twirled diabolos in the air in synchrony. And, the men and women together formed a giant peacock while either riding and/or standing on top of two bicycles and each other while on the bicycles.  It was pretty neat!

Women of the Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe

Women of the Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe

The Torres Family, who ride motorcycles while inside a giant steel ball, left my son speechless and myself both amazed and concerned for their safety. Beginning with a group of four motorcyclists, they steadily increased their number up to eight during their final performance.  All of the motorcyclists rode in circular patterns inside the steel ball, while not having any collisions!  Their performances amount to a world record achieved every day!

The Torres Family Motorcyclists

The Torres Family Motorcyclists

The Tchalabaev Cossack Troupe gave astounding performances by riding their horses. These riders did not just “ride” horses by sitting on them, but also stood atop of them, sometimes standing with one foot on each of two horses galloping next to each other. There were also performances of men in the group who hung off the horses in what was called the “dead-man rag,” in which it appeared that the horses would nearly kick them. Other performers (two at a time) also climbed over and under a horse while it was galloping. They also performed a five-person pyramid while the horses were at a gallop. It was all pretty amazing!

International Folklore Dancers and Elephants

International Folklore Dancers and Elephants

There were performances of clowns, dancers, dogs, goats, and the motorcycle highwire – which was almost directly above us, with no nets – that were also wonder-inducing. My son was amazed to watch a dog jump into a man’s arms from 16 feet off of the floor. Hans and Mariya Klose, and Vicki Zsilak and Alex Petrov, respectively, did a great job with the dogs and goats. The clowns were so funny, too, and kept us laughing. The dancers added even more vigor and vitality to the overall show.  The performances of the goats, dogs, and miniature ponies were great, too.

Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paulo Dos Santos

Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paulo Dos Santos

The folks on the motorcycle highwire, riding back and forth, and even spinning around the highwire, were incredible to watch. Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paulo Dos Santos, the Ringmaster and his sidekick, were the gel that pulled it all together in this cool show. To top it all off, the Ringling Brothers Band played live music during the circus performances!

Joseph Frisco, III and Elephants

Joseph Frisco, III and Elephants

If I might have changed one thing in the circus, it would be for the elephant that wore the mammoth suit to have it removed. Elephants are such wonderful, intelligent, and sensitive creatures, and to see an elephant dressed up in a full-body costume was distressing. Certainly, the animal was alright and was not being hurt, however it leaves me to wonder how much stress it really creates in this creature.

Alexander Lacey with the Big Cats

Alexander Lacey with the Big Cats

The one and only previous time that I had ever been to a circus was a Barnum & Bailey event sponsored by the Shriner’s. I went with my brother and other children on school buses when I was seven-years-old.  I think I remember seeing some elephants, but we were seated so highly up in Buffalo’s War Memorial Auditorium – and because the adult chaperones with us showed absolutely no eagerness or excitement at all – I don’t remember much of it except getting separated from the group when we left.  Thankfully, I was able to flag down a friendly policewoman who was directing traffic, and she took my brother and I to our school bus. That is the most I remember about going to a circus as a child – being left behind and having to step up to fend for my brother and myself amidst a sea of people. I expect that was the reason I never got to go see the circus again as a child – due to the careless “supervision” I experienced.

Performers at the Circus

Performers at the Circus

So, one can imagine what a wonderful treat it was to take my son and watch such an incredible and breath-taking circus!  Anyone who can go to and enjoy seeing the circus should do so in order to enjoy all of the wonderful and astounding performances that are in store!  Thank you to Nicole and Alana Feld for producing such a wonderful show!

“Having a Love for Horses: Remembering Sir Taurus and Elitist” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Sir Taurus, 1989

Sir Taurus, 1989 (from “Standing his Second Season at Dan Gernatt Farms: Sir Taurus,” Dan Gernatt Farms (1989)

As a youth, I acquired my love for horses.  Two of my all-time favorite horses are Sir Taurus and Elitist.  In 1988 and 1989, and possibly other years as well, these horses were owned by Dan Gernatt Farms in Collins, New York.  Since I grew up living close by where the horses were staged, I had opportunities on my walking, running, and biking outings in my neighborhood to see, interact with, and enjoy both horses.  Sir Taurus and Elitist were unique and special, and hold a warm place in my heart.

Horses are such intelligent and sensitive animals.  I believe that they definitely have a sixth sense and are very emotional creatures.  In visiting the horses in my youth, I found that interacting with them was very calming.  If one approached them in a calm, relaxed, and trusting manner, they were also trusting and at ease.  Getting in close proximity to the horses, I spoke softly and warmly to them – particularly Sir Taurus – and they were always calm, easy, and even protective of me.

Elitist typically had more energy and spunk than Sir Taurus, so I was always more cautious around him.  While giving him carrots, I was always careful to watch out for my fingers, lest he mistake them for carrots and chomp away.  Sir Taurus was much more careful than Elitist in eating his carrots, using his intelligence and sensitivity to bite only the carrots and never get near any fingers.

At first when I stopped to visit the horses on my exercising jaunts, I brought them sugar cubes.  Interestingly, neither horse had any interest in them.  That was when I changed to giving them carrots, which they always devoured in a matter of seconds.  They absolutely loved carrots, and giving them carrots was a great way of having them approach me while they were in the outdoor, fenced fields.

About Elitist, I recall that he loved attention.  He was an extremely energetic horse, and almost seemed somewhat hyper.  He always behaved in a manner in which he believed that he was superior to other horses, including Sir Taurus.  When I stopped to visit them, I had to be sure to split my time equally between them, or Elitist would get antsy and upset, snickering his displeasure if Sir Taurus received more of my time than he did.  Sir Taurus was much more patient, gentle, relaxed, and secure in himself than Elitist.

There were times when I brought a heavy-bristled brush with which to brush them.  And, while Elitist was not very interested in being brushed, Sir Taurus could literally stand there all day and allow me to brush his neck.  He absolutely loved his neck being brushed.  I enjoyed that he enjoyed it.  He was a horse with which I connected.  He and I seemed to have an understanding which, on his part, was almost human.  Elitist enjoyed having his ears rubbed and scratched.  Both horses were amazing.

In 1989, I am aware that Sir Taurus held several world records in harness racing in New York State.  Particularly as a two- and three-year-old, he held many world records.  He was the co-holder of the world record with Mack Lobell on a 1/2 mile track with a time of 1:57.2h.  He was the only world record-holding son of Speedy Crown to stand in New York State at that time.  His breeding also included that through Vanessa Hill and Hickory Pride.  His career earnings as of 1989 were nearly $485,000.

That same year, it was announced that the $100,000 Elitist Cup would continue through 1992 to benefit those of his two-year-old offspring would be racing at that time.  He was purchased by Dan Gernatt, Sr. in 1983 due to his excellent race times of under and/or at 1:55, trotting or pacing (Abbey, 1984).  For two years, Elitist ran against the best horses in the field and earned $250,000.  His stud fee in 1989 was $3,000.  His breeding was by Bret Hanover-Melody Almahurst through a Meadow Skipper mare.

In the photo included in this post, Sir Taurus is possibly driven by Dave Vance, though I am unsure about that.  Vance was Sir Taurus’ driver for some time.  Most of the information that I have included herein is from uncopyrighted flyers that were issued by Dan Gernatt Farms regarding the horses in 1989, and which I have referenced below.

To this day, I enjoy being around and interacting with horses.  Sir Taurus and Elitist were two horses that I really loved.  On many occasions throughout my life, I have taken opportunities to go horseback riding, and to see that my son has experienced pony and horseback riding, as well.  While I have never been able to afford owning or maintaining horses, the opportunities that I have had to interact with them and acquire a love for them are those that I cherish.  Horses are truly gifted animals, and should never be underestimated in their sensitivity or intelligence.

References:

Abbey, H.C. (1984).  “Gernatt’s Horses Plug Collins.”  The Buffalo News.  Buffalo, New York: Berkshire Hathaway.

Dan Gernatt Farms (1989).  “Standing his Second Season at Dan Gernatt Farms: Sir Taurus.”  Dan Gernatt Farms.  Collins, New York: Dan Gernatt Farms.

Dan Gernatt Farms (1989).  “The $100,000 Elitist Cup Continues: Elitist.”  Dan Gernatt Farms.  Collins, New York: Dan Gernatt Farms.