By Kelly Householder-Giuliano
“It’s better than I imagined! I just wanted it to work. And now, it’s going so well, it doesn’t even feel like work!”
That’s how Karry Bass feels one year after sitting down with Marvelous! to discuss her hopes and dreams for StoneCreek Ranch in Mountain Home. Last February Karry had just taken the reins for the ranch solely in her hands, saying, “I want to provide people with a place for seminars, weddings, reunions, retreats of all kinds.”
Where is she now?
Her vision has become a reality…and then some!
Already slated on the calendar are four Women, Wine and Horses weekends, a wedding, two Boy Scout retreats, the annual Horse Tails Literacy Project (formerly the Black Stallion Literacy Project), some couples retreats, and family reunions. And 2012 has just begun.
Though not on the books yet, Karry still plans to incorporate some wellness events focusing on inspiring women to awaken their innate desire and ability to maintain healthy bodies, minds and spirits.
She admits that sometimes her old fears creep in and whisper, “It’s too good to be true!” or, “Who do you think you are, trying to do something like this?”
But then her family, friends and core beliefs reassure her that everything is going so well because she followed her heart, her instinct, and she put out there what she wanted and worked for it. She also realizes that much of her success has evolved because she is not too specific in her expectations; not too rigid about what success might look like, so she is freer to flow with the opportunities that present themselves.
Women, Wine and Horses is the result of one of those opportunities. Jan Votaw, a friend of Karry’s who had recently purchased her first horse, Silver Steam, from StoneCreek, asked Karry if she could bring the horse to the ranch for a weekend. Though Silver was well-trained by Karry’s husband, Arvell Bass, Jan was trepidatious about loping her and wanted to spend some time in the safety of the ranch’s arena, under Karry’s watchful, tutorial eye.
Karry said, “That’s a great idea. Why don’t I put the word out on my website and email list and see if any other horse women would like to join us?”
Ten women showed up for that weekend, some trailering their own horses and some planning to ride one of the ranch’s well-trained horses, and Women, Wine and Horses was created!
That first WWH went so unbelievably well that Karry thought it might be a fluke, but word spread and requests came pouring in for another one. After the third WWH, Karry was convinced she was on to something!
These weekends are a time of camaraderie, relaxation, sharing, learning and just plain fun, both on and off horses. They give women the rare opportunity, in a safe and supportive environment, to leave their daily lives and responsibilities at home; to have some time to reflect, unwind, and just “be,” totally and unconditionally in the present moment. The weekends are fairly simple and unstructured with only one expectation of the participants – to enjoy themselves!
A WWH weekend might look like this: Everyone arrives in the afternoon on a Thursday or Friday, either alone or with a friend or two, and has several hours to settle into the ranch’s cozy rooms, explore the lodge and barn, meet the horses, maybe ride, and breathe in the clean country air.
Around 4 p.m., everyone gathers in the lodge or on the front porch for a meet-and-greet, enjoying Vell Greisen’s delicious and beautifully presented hors d’oeuvres and, of course, wine. This is when everyone is introduced to each other and Karry, along with her WWH back-up team, Vell and myself. As we get acquainted, we might go for a ride, or just visit, or take a quiet walk to unwind. Some might never leave the lodge because the conversation is so engaging.
As the evening grows late, we gradually fade away to our western ranch-adorned rooms. The next morning, some rise with the sun, some sleep in late, but all are greeted by Vell and her over-the-top continental breakfast spread and hot coffee when we wake.
Mid-morning, those who want to ride proceed to the barn where we tack up and mount our horses. We might ride around the indoor arena or the larger outdoor arena, or ride out over the serene 80-plus acres of trails.
Riding skills of all levels are welcome. Anyone needing some help with either the basics of caring for and riding horses, or fine-tuning specific aspects of riding, will find it here.
As noon approaches, we gather to head out for lunch. If it’s a two-day weekend, we’ll go to the Shady Grove store and deli. The Shady Ladies serve up some wonderful home-cooked Southern favorites.
If it’s a three-day weekend, one of the days we’ll head to Raimondo Family Winery in Gamaliel for wine tasting paired with delicious appetizers and an entrée salad. The wine is fabulous and the owner/operator, Margie Roelands, shares her amazing story and her knowledge of wine, olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and how they may be best enjoyed.
On summer weekends, we might get to and from the winery by pontoon boat, allowing some time to swim and to enjoy the pristine Lake Norfork.
Afternoon may find us back on our horses or in a cozy corner reading a book, or playing games in the lodge. Once again, Vell will treat us with her extravagant food for dinner.
The hours after dinner can be quite diverse: we might sit around a bon fire out by the pavilion or line dance in the observation deck, or perhaps take a bareback pajama ride in the arena! Some of us will take advantage of a therapeutic massage by Peggy Freeman. This is how the weekends go… loose, free, unencumbered, marvelous!
Karry’s sister, Laurie Boyte, also mentioned in last year’s Marvelous! story, joined a recent WWH weekend as a guest and observer.
“I came away from WWH so peaceful,” she said. “To say I was blown away by the way women can heal in such an unstructured environment was an understatement. I’m still in awe, soaking it all up and continuing to process the entire event.”
The women who experience a WWH weekend leave somewhat altered, somewhat transformed, freer and more confident to be their true selves, ready to return to their lives renewed. This feeling extends to every person on every occasion here at StoneCreek, including Karry herself. That she has created this environment and can provide these opportunities is the marvelous outcome that has exceeded all of Karry’s dreams.
M! Feb/Mar 2012