Dude Ranch

Horsemanship in the Carter family – both branches – has been handed down for generations, reaching perhaps as far back as the family’s 16th century roots in Virginia from their progenitor, Robert “King” Carter,” and before him, the knighted Sir John Carter of England.

In the Okefenokee Swamp, horses, hunting and living off the land were a way of life through the early 20th century. Kay’s father, Clarence Carter, fox hunted in the pinewoods, chasing the hounds on horseback with his brothers and friends as a young man. Historians believe Southern family traditions like these trace back to the old country. Like their forebears, the Carter boys and their cousins would ride, hunt and fish the Racepond area for more than a century. Like his father and grandfather, Harvin also kept horses for the family, teaching their daughter Ashley to ride, and passing on his own knowledge to the next generation.

In the Okefenokee’s pioneer days, a good horse, like a good dog, was necessary to sustaining one’s family and self in the region. Horse drawn buckboard wagons were used for the family’s farm work, though Kay’s grandfather, Hansel, bought a covered buggy to drive to church and for other special occasions.

Today, visitors to Newell Lodge can experience the landscape of the Okefenokee region from horseback, with a member of the next generation of the Carter family: Kay and Harvin’s grandson, Kris Whitaker, is one of the lodge’s highly qualified guides.

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Barn & Board

Newell Lodge offers barn and board to our guests who prefer to vacation with their equine partners.

Trail Rides

Guests may also ride one of the Carter family horses, specially trained and chosen for their pleasant disposition, smooth gaits, and surefootedness on the areas trails.

Trail rides can either be reserved by day or be planned as part of the planned activities for an overnight or extended stay. Seasonally, rides may include fishing, picnics or other activities.

Horses & Yoga

Ashley Carter-Mesa is a certified Yoga instructor who combines her deep knowledge of horses and leadership training with her practice. Upon special request (and subject to availability), she will tailor small group sessions for leadership teams or personal enrichment.

Heart-Centered Horse Sense

Practice being fully present by spending quality one-on-one time with the horse of your choice. Just Be with your horse and allow the worries and stresses of life melt away. From a place of heart, brush, groom, talk, and listen to your horse until you’re both relaxed and refreshed.

The Oh-Kay Kids Corral

Seasonally and by request, Newell Lodge offers special horse events for children ages 12 and under. Your little cowboy or cowgirl will enjoy riding lessons, trail rides, a summer horse camp, and hands-on activities with the horses.

Feed and Lead

Kids use math and bio-science to learn horse care, foster responsibility, and enhance personal confidence. They lead horses into stalls, measure feed, and learn how much feed each horse receives in its bucket. Then, turn the horses out into the lot, water the horses, and make certain our equine friends are safe for the night. (Recommended for children aged 8 and up.)

Farm Animal Foray

Kids learn the vocabulary, math, and biology needed to care for diverse small farm animals such as goats, chickens, and rabbits. They feed and water the animals while directly observing the characteristics of each species, and checking to make certain each animal is safely bedded for the night. High touch experience fosters a sense of wonder, teaches responsibility, and builds confidence. (Recommended for younger children, ages 7 and under.)

Though we provide helmets for riding instruction and trail rides, each Oh-Kay Kid receives a complimentary straw cowboy hat and a child’s sized Newell Lodge horse-themed t-shirt like those worn by our staff.

Hay Rides and Campfires

See the gorgeous sunset during an old-fashioned hay ride around Newell Lodge. Then, sit around the evening campfire to roast marshmallows, enjoy singing and storytelling of the Okefenokee of long ago and recitations of cowboy poetry. Or write one of your own to share.

Okefenokee Cattle Drive

In the olden days, stock herders on foot were called “crackers,” due to the sound of the whip they used to make a cracking sound over the heads of cattle to keep them moving along. Though we prefer to move a herd from horseback, it’s no small task. The goal is to position your horse so that you motivate the steers to move in your desired direction from the back pasture to the round pen. Helmets and safety vests are provided by Newell Lodge.