Skip to main content

Take to the trails

Home for Horses photo

HOME FOR HORSES — Aaron Gantt (left), maintenance supervisor at Central Hills Retreat, and retreat staffer Clay Hathcock inspect the stables recently completed at the camp facility near West that will allow for expansion of the only equine program at a Mississippi Baptist encampment. The stables, built by volunteers from North Delta Association, will be put to use for the first time during the Overnight Trail Ride on April 26-27.(Photo by Tony Martin)

MBCB to hold second annual Overnight Trail Ride April 26-27

By Tony Martin

Associate Editor, The Baptist Record

Story originally published in The Baptist Record on March 28, 2013

Participants in the second annual Overnight Trail Ride on April 26-27 at Central Hills Retreat near West will be able to relax in new quarters – the four-legged participants, that is.

“Several volunteers from North Delta Association came down to build the new stables,” said Aaron Gantt, maintenance supervisor at Central Hills Retreat. “They worked here the latter part of February, on a weekend when it was 80 degrees.”

Gantt said the new digs should translate into a larger group of riders for the popular Overnight Trail Ride. “I think we’ll pick up some more riders because we can handle more horses,” he pointed out.

The Evangelism Department at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) is sponsoring the Overnight Trail Ride.

MBCB Evangelism Director Don Lum said, “We are a state of subgroups. We have motorcyclists, hunters, fishermen — and we have a horse culture. Anytime I’m on the road in Mississippi I see horse trailers. A lot of people ride.

“Counties all over the state have arenas, fairgrounds, and other facilities for horse shows. We have a great place to ride at Central Hills, so we hold the trail ride there. Last fall, folks from all over the state came down for the ride.”

We had a great time last year with worship Friday night and Saturday morning. We had at least three pastors to ride. We had grandparents and grandkids, husbands and wives, a lot of families. We want to provide an opportunity for Mississippi Baptists to bring friends who might be unchurched or unsaved. They’ll hear the Gospel while they’re here. It’s a way for us to reach a part of the population we couldn’t otherwise reach.

Don Lum

MBCB Evangelism Director

Gantt said the event has become a must-attend attraction for many Baptist horse fanciers. “People come and make a long weekend out of it. They bring their horses, put out their own hay and feed, and have a nice place now for their horses. These stables weren’t here last year.”

Gantt said future plans include a feed trough and fresh water for each stall. Ample space is already available at the expansive encampment for riders to park their trailers.

Central Hills staffer Clay Hathcock led the trail ride last year. “Clay’s uncle told me last year that this was the best trail ride he’d ever been on,” Gantt said. “So many of these rides (at other locations) are just paths through the woods. Ours have been bushhogged so they are wide enough that you don’t have to worry about getting slapped by a limb. The trails are safe.

“Right now, we have two miles of trails but we’d like to make them about three miles long.”

The cost of the Overnight Trail Ride is $45 per person, which includes housing or RV hookup, meals, and insurance.

“This is BYOH — bring your own horse,” said Lum.

Horses are required to have an up-to-date negative Coggins test. Participants can arrive after 3 p.m. on April 26, with dinner and activities beginning at 6 p.m. Breakfast on April 27 is at 8 a.m., with the ride beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The event concludes with lunch on April 27. Local horse enthusiasts are invited to ride on April 27; their cost is $15 per person, which includes lunch.

“We had a great time last year with worship Friday night and Saturday morning. We had at least three pastors to ride. We had grandparents and grandkids, husbands and wives, a lot of families,” said Lum.

“We want to provide an opportunity for Mississippi Baptists to bring friends who might be unchurched or unsaved. They’ll hear the Gospel while they’re here. It’s a way for us to reach a part of the population we couldn’t otherwise reach.”

Participants 17 years of age and younger must be accompanied by an adult. The event is limited to 60 overnight guests. For registration, participants should contact Central Hills Retreat at (662) 289-9730, or email dramage@mbcb.org.

For more information, contact Lum at P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. Telephone: (601) 292-3278, or toll-free outside Jackson (800) 748-1651, ext. 278. E-mail: dlum@mbcb.org.

The annual Overnight Trail Ride is funded by registration fees and gifts to the Mississippi Cooperative Program.