Saddle Up

If you love horseback riding - or would like to learn - a visit to Reba Farm Inn is a must.

I’'ve loved horses for as long as I can remember—and yet, as a child, I rarely encountered them. The seeds of my passion were planted by television shows, movies and books. I longed to ride like Roy Rogers—or better yet, Alec Ramsay, the main character in Walter Farley’s wonderful novel Black Stallion.

With these images in mind, I kept the dream alive—and when I was in my early 20s, I began checking out stables and horse farms wherever I went. Over the next two decades, I rode out of Claremont Stables through New York’s Central Park, Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, Long Island, and Kedron Valley Inn in Woodstock, Vermont, among many other facilities.

I’'ve been horseback riding many times in Virginia, as well, at a couple of places in Hampton Roads and three or four in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But the best one by far, in this state or any other that I’'ve visited, is Reba Farm Inn, just outside the town of Bedford.

Reba is owned by Ron Gore and Kathleen Donovan, a lovely couple originally from Northern Virginia. Before moving to Bedford, Ron worked as a contractor, and Kathleen was an interior decorator. Their complementary skills are reflected in their beautifully refurbished farmhouse.

It’s clear that Ron’s greatest talent, however, is horsemanship. That’s somewhat ironic, given that he had never been on a horse until he was 30 years old. “I was vacationing with some friends in the Poconos,” he recalls, “and they asked if I wanted to go riding. We rode all day long, and I loved it. That was it. Within a week, I bought my own a horse—a Palomino named Windy.” Within a few years, Ron, now 61, had decided that he wanted to own a horse farm.

“I’d been reading and learning everything I could about horses,” he says, “and I’d decided that I didn’t like the idea of boarding. Most of the facilities weren’t to my liking.”

When they bought Reba, it consisted of farmhouse, part of which is 250 years old, a carriage house and 65 acres of hillside land.

“Everything was falling down when we bought it,” Ron remembers. Today, the property includes the  -room farmhouse, with six bedrooms; the carriage house, which includes a firstfloor game room and two second-floor guest rooms; and a private cottage that sleeps up to seven.

Just outside, between the main house and the game room, is a 32-foot swimming pool and a six-person hot tub. Recently, Ron also built a waterfall that flows into the pool.

The 65-acre property would be a lovely place to stay even if that were the extent of it. But Ron and Kathleen own another 300 acres just across the road. That’s where you’ll find the horses—51 of them, in fact, representing 24 different breeds. (One of them, Rosie, just gave birth.) A number of them were rescued from abuse or neglect and have been rehabilitated.

Categories: Weekends