From Our Editors
The 96-foot-tall and 150-foot-wide sycamore tree that stands in a field outside Crossville has grown there since 1864. It's spent nearly 150 years steeped in local history, during which it drew in John and Michelle Cannon. After years spent as employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, they retired and built a horseback-trail-riding facility on the 300 acres of farmlands surrounding its roots. Their visitors have joined in picnics, Halloween celebrations, and marriages at the base of its 16 foot-wide trunk. Under the guidance of their niece—an equestrian-management major—and horseback-riding instructors, the Cannons conduct year-round trail rides, horse-care workshops, and wagon rides across these rolling fields and woodlands. They've seen riders return year after year, often bringing their children, where seasoned instructor and barn manager Judy Gibson matches each child with one of the facility's 22 gentle, patient horses based on the horse's temperament.
Guides lead rides along the property's trail, which meanders through four switchbacks, across streams, and past waterfalls. They also conduct hay-wagon rides, during which they take visitors out to the fields to feed the horses and ferry them back to the barn for a bonfire. On rides across the fields, guides may point out flower beds planted by local gnomes as well as two beehives maintained by local beekeepers and occupied only by union bees. In special workshops, staffers teach schoolchildren the basics of horse care, tacking, and environmental conservation and guide those with physical or mental disabilities in riding horses as a form of rehabilitation. As visitors ride or revel in one of Wildwood Stables' seasonal activities, they may walk the stone pathway to the barn, lounge on the stone patio next to the gazebo, and pass by the front entrance, where the sculpted head of a beloved horse looks out over the fields. Resident instructor and former stonemason Calvin Daniels sculpted each of these fixtures after harvesting their crab-orchard stone from the property.
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