by Carolyn Lough
I recently had the opportunity to trail ride and become acquainted with Tom Seay and the crew of Best of America by Horseback. I had often watched the show on RFD-TV and wished I could be there with them and see the beautiful landscape and enjoy the friendship they were sharing. Imagine how surprised I was, while checking their website, that I saw they were scheduled to be attending the Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort at Black, Missouri October 6-9.
I immediately called and got reservations and began wondering what this trip would be like. My only disappointment was the location as I had already seen this area since it is only 35 miles from my home. But, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, so I anxiously waited for October to begin.
Finally the extremely hot and dry months of July and August were over; September brought cooler days and the nights gave me a hint of fall. I’m always amazed at how the changing of the seasons sneak up on us, and how each change triggers different feelings inside us, bringing memories of the past, or maybe new plans for the future. How can a change in the air do that to us?
October 6 finally arrived. I finished packing the trailer, loaded my mule, Tonto and my dog, Harlie and we were off to become movie stars!
Brushy Creek Resort is a really nice facility, located in the middle of the Missouri Ozarks. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quiet, not crowded, place to ride. The rental stalls are very safe for your mule or horse, the campsites are mostly shaded, there are also rental cabins available, a clean shower house, and a really good restaurant, and of course miles of trails to explore. The hospitality is to be commended. After checking in at the lodge I was met at the gate and ushered to my campsite; they even parked my trailer for me as I’m not great at backing and they probably felt sorry for an old ‘mule lady.’
Activities began October 6 with a welcome bonfire from 7 to 10 p.m., marshmallow roasting, hayrides and music entertainment. The next morning we gathered for a trail ride in the Mark Twain National Forest. There were 78 riders that were divided into groups of fast or slow traveling mounts. I saw two other mules on the ride. Several riders complimented Tonto, and seemed surprised that a mule could keep up with the gaited horses. I could tell that most of the crowd knew very little about mules.
The scheduled for Friday afternoon included a Trail Horse Clinic and Cattle Sorting, or trail riding on your own. That evening there was musical entertainment provided by Best of America by Horseback members, Rusty Reirson and Del Shields.
Saturday was another wonderful day. As I rode the trail I watched the leaves fall like a gentle, slow rain; I again felt the changing of the season and noticed the beautiful colors of the forest. I realized I couldn’t have been in a more beautiful part of America. It just didn’t get any better than this, and I am so lucky to be a part of it.
That afternoon there was a Cowboy Mounted Shooting demonstration with the Missouri Big Irons (members of the CMSA). A challenge course competition was offered to anyone wanting to participate, and that evening an After Ride banquet was held, with all the crew from Best of America by Horseback. Awards were presented and a banquet meal was enjoyed. This was followed by a barn dance and live music.
Cowboy Church was conducted Sunday morning and was a special experience for all in attendance. After church services there was a short trail ride to finish filming for the show, which will air November 22 on RFD-TV.
This was another great experience for me. George and JoAnn Becker, Brushy Creek Resort owners, and Tom Seay and his crew certainly know how to conduct an event and keep you entertained, as well as making you feel special. I’m hoping to ride with them again, but for now I want to say “thank you” to my sponsor, CanOak-USA, Inc. for giving me another mule-related opportunity; I hope I made you proud.