ALLONS – This isn’t your typical dude ranch.
Sure, there are herds of horses, trail rides, and amenities that are definitely more tourist leaning. But Grey Wolf Ranch, a new Upper Cumberland business located minutes from Dale Hollow Lake in the confines of Clay County, offers something different. A unique – and totally personalized – instructional experience.
Owners Daniel and Christine Grey recently relocated both themselves and their company’s headquarters to this quiet locale – beyond the boundaries of Overton but still considered Allons territory: 115 acres within minutes of Willow Grove Marina, land once partially pegged for the La Gardena development, a 400-room hotel, spa, golf course, equestrian center and shopping village that went belly up in a bleak economy in recent years.
The Greys stepped in in December/January and put forth hours planning, clearing and building. The welcome center is the first point of contact for patrons, but there’s pasture out back and plans for lodging down the road. The main attraction at Grey Wolf Ranch, however, is the couple’s unique approach to teaching, crafted themselves and dubbed “Learn to Ride…Ride to Learn.”
In essence, it’s a personal growth strategy that goes way beyond the typical trail rides offered at some ranches, where visitors follow one another in single file by horse’s tail, Daniel says. That’s still offered, of course, but the Greys want you to learn how to “move with the gait of the horse.” Riders, for example, learn how to carry their weight in the legs, instead of being a dead weight on the horses’ back. Control is emphasized.
Ultimately, the horse becomes a means and a metaphor to teach you about life.
“Based on one’s body language, you ‘learn to ride’ even without being on or around a horse. We’re in the business of reading body language. But as good as you or I may be at reading body language, our ability is dwarfed by a horse,” Daniel said. “And if a horse can figure out how to take advantage of you, he or she will. If life can figure out how to take advantage of you, it will. It’s about one word and one word only; we teach you how to be in 100-percent control.
“When ‘riding to learn,’ we teach you to be results-oriented, not excuse oriented,” he continued. “If a rider says, ‘This horse won’t do what I want him to do,’ you’re going to hear us say, ‘It’s not about the horse. It’s about you. You’re being too gentle.’ The horse will teach you immediately how to take and give.”
That approach is one the Greys have had success with over 20-plus years. It’s also one that certainly lends itself easily to the businesses climate. Grey Wolf is open for corporate retreats, group workshops and team building events as well as family reunions, romantic retreats, weddings and the like.
In addition to their new Tennessee operation, the Greys still maintain ranches in Colorado and the Dominican Republic. Here, the plan is to offer something different for tourists – with Dale Hollow Lake as a peak attraction – and promote other local businesses. For example, there’s currently no lodging on site, so guests are sent to marinas.
The couple is definitely open for the adventure – and challenge.
“Our goal is that a customer will never see the same thing twice,” Christine said. “Our attention to detail and our hands-on methodology is what really helps us be successful.”
“That’s the type of personal touch we give everyone,” added Daniel. “We treat every person who comes here as though they’re the only person who’s ever been.”