My friend, Lizzie, and I went out to ride with Rebel's Run of Afton Mountain on what happened to be the most beautiful sunny Sunday in March. Let me begin by saying I have zero experience riding horses! I have a slight memory of visiting our local barn when I was in elementary school but of course that was totally different and so long ago. Leading up I was a little nervous since I had never been on a horse, but also so excited about the opportunity to ride to a winery.
When we arrived at the barn, we were greeted by Mimi, the owner, and a couple who would be going out with us. Immediately, we felt at home as we met the horses and learned about the history of Rebel’s Run. Rebel’s Run is known for providing horseback lessons to local riders, as well as providing vineyard trail rides to Afton Mountain Vineyards. Mimi is very committed to making this a memorable experience as she goes the extra mile to ensure that her guests are comfortable, so even though we were beginner riders we felt prepared. Being a group of four that morning is a typical size for vineyard rides so that they can be kept small and intimate.
Rebel’s Run is named after one of Mimi’s horses, Rebel. When she first got him, he decided to run away and try to get to his former home. Where Rebel originally lived was over 70 miles away and he made it 35 miles before he was found! Rebel is a mustang and I guess they are amazing at direction, which was definitely shown in “Rebel’s Run.” When it came time to choose our horses, one of my options was Rebel since he was good for beginners, and so of course I wanted to ride THE famous Rebel! Lizzie ended up riding Pocahontas, a really sweet horse who seemed to be on a mission throughout the ride always staying extra close to the horse in front of her.
Mimi was great about explaining some things that would help you to ride with ease. She also made sure that the less experienced riders were going to ride the horses that were very familiar with the trails, and would respond well to the basic commands. When I say basic commands, I mean that we learned how to have the horse go left and right, and stop. I found it a little more difficult to have Rebel start walking, but he was definitely used to the trail so he would just continue to go once the horse in front started moving.
After we were comfortable on the horses, we started along the trail. The ride was about 30-45 minutes to get to Afton Mountain Vineyards. Most of it was through the woods and then you arrive at the end to the field right outside the vineyard. It is very peaceful going along the trail and you even go over a few streams. After dismounting at Afton Mountain, the horses just graze in the field while you get to visit the winery!
Afton Mountain is one of the most beautiful wineries in the area so I could not think of a better place to ride to. It was Sunday at noon when we arrived and we had the entire place to ourselves! Cue getting a glass of rosé and sitting on their porch for an hour before getting back on the horses. Mimi had suggested getting sandwiches beforehand to bring to the winery, which I highly recommend as well. It could not have been a more perfect day just soaking up the sunshine with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains beyond the vines, good company and of course, delicious wine.
An hour later, we returned to the horses and rode back to the barn at Rebel’s Run on the same trail. For a girl who has never been on a horse before, I thought I did a pretty great job. Also, Mimi’s business definitely caters to all experience levels and I enjoyed the extra support when I had no idea what to do. It was such a fun and different way to experience a vineyard! Shoutout to Lizzie for letting me bring her on this adventure and reassuring me I would be fine horseback riding! Now I am just excited to try riding again!
If you want to learn more or you are interested in doing a vineyard ride yourself with Mimi, go to https://rebelsrunaftonmountain.com/
Sarah, wine enthusiastic and globetrotter, currently exploring Virginia one winery at a time.