Q. Are horseback riding and/or other activities available without staying overnight?
A.Yes. Many guests like to visit for meals, riding, or both. Please visit our page for non-guests for more information. Reservations are required.
Q. What typically attracts guests to stay at your ranch?
A. Guests visit from all over the world for a variety of reasons. Most come for a riding vacation; some come to visit the historic town of Madison while others visit just to take in the beauty and tranquility that the ranch has to offer. Southern Cross is a great place for couples, singles, and families too. We invite you to read our guests' comments posted online from our guest book to read what other guests had to say.
Q. Is there a service charge, mandatory gratuity, or any other "hidden charges"?
A. Absolutely not! You'll never pay a service charge at Southern Cross Ranch. Our rates are simply our rates. While it is customary to leave a gratuity for our staff in an envelope provided at the end of your stay, your contribution is completely discretionary. Of course, your stay is taxable by Uncle Sam (government), and those taxes are not included in the rates.
Q. I would like to ride, but I don't think I would want to ride twice daily. Should I book a non-riding plan?
A. Not necessarily. Our riding packages are created with a significant value in mind. Many times, booking a non-riding plan and buying 2 or more rides separately will cost as much or more than a riding package that could possibly include much more riding. It is not uncommon for guests to pass up a ride or two during their stay in order to relax and/or do other activities on the ranch or nearby.
Q. What other activities are available in the area if I wanted to venture off of the ranch?
A. Our location is convenient to many area attractions and activities. Several golf courses are within 5-30 minutes. A nearby gun club offers sporting clays, skeet, and trap shooting as well as archery. Our historic town of Madison offers a beautiful self-guided walking tour of the antebellum homes and gardens and features countless shops offering art, antiques, and civil war artifacts. Nearby Lake Oconee features premier fishing and boating opportunities. If you wish to venture up to an hour away, you'll find canoeing and whitewater, Georgia's Stone Mountain Park, and several attractions and theme parks in Atlanta. Please see our local attractions page for additional information.
Q. What is the nature of the riding program?
A. We offer a relaxed riding program, which allows guests to trail ride on their own if they choose. However, your first ride on the ranch is required to be in a small guided group. Thereafter, riders whom we feel are doing sufficiently well and wish to do so may have the opportunity to enjoy their subsequent riding on an unguided basis so long as they are not riding alone. Guides are always available to those who require or prefer them. Horses are matched for novice and experienced riders alike at the beginning of each ride, and lessons are available. Guests are encouraged to continue to ride the same horse throughout their stay by requesting them at the beginning of each ride, but no guarantees can be made. Two trail rides are arranged per day, one in the A.M. and one in the P.M. Guests on the All-Inclusive plan are welcome to ride up to 2 hours per riding session.
Q. Is this a nose to tail ride?
A. Good Question and tough to answer. We've yet to figure out how to get the horses to ride tail-to-tail or head-to-head. It's also not a wise idea to attempt to ride abreast in wooded trails. We do ride in small groups of 2-7 riders. Smaller groups of this size can be quite versatile on the trails. When appropriate, riders may trot and canter as well. In a literal sense the horses will inevitably ride nose-to-tail, but you'll find our riding program to have more liberties than most.
Q. What if I come alone, do I have to be in a guided group?
A. Not necessarily. It is true that single riders may not ride alone and unguided. However, it is quite common that our single visitors find other guests with whom they wish to ride either guided or unguided.
Q. Is there a weight limit for horseback riding?
A. Naturally there must be a limit. There are some restrictions starting at 250 lbs. If anyone in your party weighs 250 lbs or more, please contact us for more information.
Q. Is the horseback riding with Western or English tack, and can I bring my own saddle?
A. We provide only Western tack and saddles for our program. Riders are welcome to bring their own Western or English saddle if the wish, but naturally our bridle and bit must be used. Guests are even welcome to bring their own horse if they so desire.
Q. What are the check-in and check-out times?
A. Check-in is officially 2:00 p.m., but we welcome check-ins as early as 11:00 a.m. (prior notice requested) and as late as needed. If your room is ready before 2:00 p.m., you may take possession; otherwise you may enjoy the property while you wait for your room, use the common areas (i.e. patios, TV room, game room, etc.), or take part in any other meals or activities that your plan may include. If you are on the either the All-Inclusive plan (with or without riding), then you select whether you would like lunch on arrival or departure. For the All-Inclusive plan with riding, the first ride included in your package is at 2pm on arrival and the last ride is the morning ride on departure. Guests riding on the AM of departure should plan to vacate the room prior to the ride. The official check-out for all rooms is 10:30 a.m., but later check-outs may be requested in the last day of your stay.
Q. I noticed you offer a trail ride at Hard Labor Creek State Park. How much does it cost, and when is it available?
A. Most riders ride exclusively on the ranch's property. However, some guests staying over longer periods enjoy the change of scenery provided at Hard Labor Creek State Park. Riding at Hard Labor involves transporting the horses and riders by vehicle and providing a guide. The cost is $70/person with a $150 minimum (plus horse rental if not on All-Inclusive plan). In other words, a total of $150 is required for us to cover our trip expenses. If more than 1 rider is going, the minimum is met. If only 1-2 riders take the trip, the fee is a flat $150. In most instances, 3 or more interested riders can be found to take the trip. The trail ride involves a 9+ mile trek through the park's well-established forest and along Lake Rutledge. The terrain is steep at points, and this particular ride is not for beginners. Generally, this trip is only available Monday through Thursday, conditions permitting. This offering is best utilized by guests planning to stay a week or longer.
Q. I want to come with my spouse who would rather spend his day golfing and not riding. Is there a plan for us?
A. Yes, you are welcome to request a hybrid plan which may involve one guest being on our All-Inclusive riding plan (AI) and the other on our all-Inclusive non-riding plan (AINR). We'll be happy to quote you at a rate that would still cover everything for each person (except the horseback riding for the non-rider). There are several golf courses in the area as well as a gun club and fishing/boating on Lake Oconee. Please see our local attractions page for more information.
Q. If I am coming alone with my child or children under age 15, do I pay as a single adult?
A. Yes, you simply apply the single adult rate while the child rate applies to your children.
Q. I have a child (age 4-8) that falls into the lower rate category, and I noticed that the rate sheet denotes "limited/restricted riding" for this age group. What does this entail?
A. The restriction means that children 8 and younger are only eligible to ride tandem with a parent, or ride solo via lead line in one of our arenas while in the parent’s care. Basically, at the lower rate (8 & under), children don't get to ride their "own" horse on the open trails. Since most children in this age group are not ready for this responsibility, they receive a lower rate. However, at the parents' discretion, one may upgrade a younger child (i.e. 8 yrs old) to the older children's rate (ages 9-15) to gain full riding privileges.
Q. What if I have a child under age 4, can they still come?
A. Unfortunately, no. The minimum age for all guests staying at the ranch is age 4.
Q. Are pets allowed?
A. Unfortunately, we can not allow pets in our guest rooms. However, you may rent a stall in our stable ($15/night) to board your pet. This arrangement is ideal for most guests with larger dogs. It's like camping for dogs. However, this may not be acceptable for every pet owner. If you are unsure, we encourage guests to make other arrangements for their pets.
Q. Is there a minimum night stay requirement?
A. Sometimes. Most rooms available on Friday and Saturday nights may require at least a 2-night minimum stay. However, there are many exceptions to this and prospective guests are encouraged to submit a reservation inquiry to check availability for a 1-night stay.
Q. What if it rains?
A. This is one thing over which none of us has control. Many times when there is rain in the forecast, it doesn't rain a drop at the ranch. And when it does rain, it may not rain during our riding times. Even then, it is generally possible to ride in light rain in the absence of lightning or thunder. If you do miss a ride or two, don’t despair! We have a system in place wherein you can choose to make up the missed ride at the end of your stay, take a rain check, or even possibly be downgraded from the riding plan rates for the day(s) that you were unable to ride due to bad weather. If you have an upcoming reservation and rain is in the near term forecast, you may cancel your reservation (forfeiture of deposit). If this is too large a risk for you, it is advised that you wait until the last minute to book your reservation or consider buying traveler's insurance from a third party.
and many more.