Around the Water Trough

Andora Farm – Bringing the West to the East

Contributed by Around the Water Trough


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Andora Farm owners Tom and Pat Seay, originally horseback outfitters in the Blue Ridge Mountains, coined the phrase - "Why Go West?" - when people can enjoy the rural lifestyle, cattle drives, and team penning on their farm in Culpeper, Virginia. Whether you're an experienced cattle driver, new to horseback riding, or just want to learn a little Virginia history, Andora Farm has something for everyone with events through the spring, summer, and into the fall that are open to the public.

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Andora’s main farmhouse was established around 1758 in colonial Virginia and was once surveyed by George Washington. In colonial times, Daniel Boone lived within a mile and worked on the farm, hauling tobacco to neighboring ports. Andora celebrates that history by hosting a “Daniel Boone Days" event in the fall with artisans, mountain men, crafters, historians, and hayrides.

During the Civil War, the home was occupied by Union Officers and over 30,000 Civil War troops camped on this property and at surrounding farms. A stream named "Mountain Run" goes through the middle of the farm. It was a strategic crossing during the Civil War where General George Armstrong Custer led troops during the Battles of Signal Mountain and others. Andora Farm is just a short drive to this and other battlefields.

Tom’s family has been in Virginia since the 1600's and, as farmers, each generation has depended on horses. “My grandfather was deaf and used hand signals to train and work with horses long before there were self-proclaimed horse whisperers,” says Tom. Pat began riding horses in her 20's with a young horse that she raised and trained, ‘Thunder,’ she now rides the daughter of that horse, ‘Stormy.” She also rode ‘Stormy’ from the Atlantic to the Pacific, over 3,300 miles without any problem. Tom’s trail partner is a Quarter Horse named ‘Willie.’ Their ride and horses were covered on CNN and showcased in a European film on the American Spirit. Pat continues to ride and teach as well as edit the couple’s television show - America's Premier Trail Riding Television Show – “Best of America by Horseback.”

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Since 2005, “Best of America by Horseback” has enthralled viewers with gorgeous trails and scenic views from across the country and encourages horse enthusiasts to be a part of the fun at every location they visit. Tom is the executive producer and host, while Pat is the producer, director, and “the heart of the whole operation.” Episodes are featured on RFD-TV every Tuesday and Thursday and five days a week on The Cowboy Channel.

In addition to their hit tv show, the Seay’s continue to run several events each year at Andora Farm including their highly popular cattle and team penning events, which have run continuously for over 30 years. “I believe it’s the longest running team event in the country. Our cattle drives evolved from people wanting to come and help round up the cows over large areas and therefore became a sport in and of itself,” smiles Tom. “It is one of the few rodeo events that anyone, at any age and any level of experience, including none, can enjoy. It is also an event where you can’t touch or harm the cattle in any way. If you watch an event, you see that the cattle often win!”

Every Friday night, April through October, people bring their own horses to the farm for weekly Team Penning Practice. The cost is still just $5 per run/person - it hasn't gone up in 30 years! Riders of all ages and skill levels love to work their horses and socialize with other horse people. Often families come out to see the horses and watch the events.

Another popular event is the Seay’s Cattle Drives. The Cattle Drives started at the farm when horse owners asked if they could come out early on Friday nights to expose their horses to cattle before Team Penning. Tom would take them out with him into the pastures with the cattle and help them get their horses comfortable being around them. Tom and Pat have had so many requests for cattle drives, they are now regularly scheduled throughout the year!

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Cattle Drive Weekends

Enjoy a weekend in the great outdoors, full of beautiful views and working cattle with Tom and Pat. This is the perfect adventure for riders and horses of any experience level, whether you've worked with cattle before or not.

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Friday

Check in at Andora Farm, then help Tom gather the herd and drive the cattle to the barn for the weekly Team Penning Practice hosted on site. After driving the cattle, tuck in to a warm, home cooked meal by Androa’s friendly staff. After dinner, pull up a chair and watch teams wrangle cattle during Team Penning or join in - sign ups open at 6:00 pm! If penning isn’t your thing, partake in catch-and-release fishing at the stocked pond or on the Mountain Run River than runs through the property.

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Saturday

A hot breakfast is prepared for riders, then saddle up your horse to help drive and work cattle with Tom. Later in the day, enjoy lunch at the house followed by a small break - just enough time to grab a nap or wander the yard. After a relaxing a bit, head over to the arena to try your hand at team penning and round out the afternoon with a cattle drive and trail ride around the 300-acre farm. That evening gather around the table with Tom and Pat in the main house for a great, Southern style banquet dinner. The day ends by the campfire under the stars in the backyard, where you can share stories with other riders.

Daniel Boone Days

Daniel Boone and his family lived about a mile away in Stevensburg during the Cherokee Indian Wars. While living in the area, he worked the tobacco fields on the land now known as Andora Farm. To commemorate this piece of colonial history, Andora Farm hosts Daniel Boone Days each fall.

Visitors can learn more about life in colonial Virginia, interact with local artisans & craftspeople, and explore the farm. Attractions include wagon rides out to the living-history Mountain Man encampment, a Native American historian, and educational booths where you can see colonial craft-folk in action, such as a blacksmith, quilters, spinners and weavers, candle making, soap making, pottery and more. Many of these booths will have one-of-a-kind items for purchase. The public is welcome to come out and enjoy the colonial celebration.

This year, Daniel Boone Days is being hosted alongside the annual Best of America by Horseback event, The Gathering at the Farm, as well as a Cattle Drive. If you are participating in the Cattle Drive portion of the weekend, you will need to bring your own horse. Horse rentals are not available.

Friday

Check in at Andora Farm with a member of the Best of America by Horseback team, then help Tom gather the herd and drive the cattle to the barn for the weekly Team Penning Practice. After driving the cattle, tuck in to a warm, home cooked meal by Androa’s friendly staff. After dinner, pull up a chair and watch teams wrangle cattle during Team Penning or join in - sign ups open at 6:00 pm! If penning isn’t your thing, partake in catch-and-release fishing at the stocked pond or on the Mountain Run River than runs through the property.

Saturday

Start the day with fresh coffee and a hot breakfast up at the house before saddling up your horse to help drive and work cattle with Tom. Enjoy a country picnic lunch under the old walnut trees at the house before checking out craftspeople and artisans in the yard-- displays by blacksmiths, soap makers, candle makers, potters, quilters, trappers, spinners & weavers, and so much more! Pile up in the wagon to visit the Living History encampment where you can learn about Native Americans with the American Mountain Men Association. For dinner, gather around the old walnut trees with Tom and Pat for a Southern style dinner prepared at the farm, with keynote speaker Tom Seay and a special guest speaker. Share stories around the campfire with fellow visitors and the crew of Best of America by Horseback.

Sunday

Visit with the colonial crafters and pick up some of their handcrafted goods before taking a wagon ride deep into the property to see the Living History mountain men encampment and learn from a Native American historian.


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Tom’s Trail Advice ...

“When folks want to ride or expand their riding, begin riding with older and experienced riders. Showoffs are the quickest way to form an accident. Older riders will not take chances, will know details of the trails they will ride, including water or river crossings. The second and most important thought is simply do not ride with drinkers. While I am not against someone having a glass of wine or beer at dinner, alcohol usually is the centerpiece of accidents or injuries. It is more than the alcohol, but a reflection of character of people that are mature. Horses are wonderful animals, but often reacting to the riders and situations they are given. Calm settled people add so much to the pleasure and safety of riding.”

Learn more about these events and others at Andora Farm at 540-829-9555 or www.andorafarm.com.