After roughly two-and-a-half decades of training champion show horses, Joe Bregman made the decision to pursue less stressful avenues, while still staying close to his horse roots.
Bregman said that his horse business, now Bregman Trail Rides, has been in operation for the past 27 years, having transitioned the business from horse training to trail riding last year. The company is based in Pinnacle.
Before offering horseback trail rides at Pilot Mountain State Park full-time, Bregman balanced both training and riding.
According to Bregman, he said that he considered offering training clinics, but looked up at the state park, which is visible from his stables, and realized that he wanted to offer a more recreational-based horse activity. He attributes part of the decision to the fact that the people who come to him now are there for the sheer joy of enjoying the horses and nature, instead of the pressure that comes from the competitive world of horse racing.
“We really just want to give back to the community and allow people to enjoy the horses,” Bregman said.
He said that nearly 50 percent of his customers are tourists who are in town visiting Mount Airy, adding that he’s had customers from places such as Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. When out-of-town customers come to Bregman for rides, he said that he always tries to encourage them to explore other local businesses and attractions, particularly local wineries and lodging options.
“A lot of people come to us while they’re visiting Pilot Mountain State Park and Hanging Rock State Park,” Bregman said of a portion of his clientele.
Bregman attributes his horse training background to the quality of rides that his company offers, with each ride being supplied with a guide that accompanies riders throughout the duration of the excursion. Bregman said that the guide offers a historical perspective of the mountain and surrounding areas, as well as information about the horses.
When Bregman switched the company from training to trail rides, his assistant trainer of 18 years then became a guide. Bregman prides himself on the fact that Bregman Trail Rides is a family business, with both his son and daughter being active in the operation of the company, in addition to his wife.
“We feel like we’re unique because we provide private rides,” Bregman said. “Coming from the elite world of championship training, we feel that we give a superior experience.”
Each ride starts out at the Pilot Mountain corridor trail access and is for three miles, lasting roughly an hour and a half. Before starting the ride, Bregman said that each rider is given a basic riding lesson in order to get her feet wet before going out on the more challenging trail.
“We really try to cater to make people comfortable and confident,” Bregman said.
The company operates from March through the end of November, with around 15 customers per week. Bregman said that he’s projecting that the company will offer somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 individual rides this year, having already provided 300 rides thus far.
“I want the volume to pick up, but the rides are still going to be private,” Bregman said of the growth he hopes his company will experience.
During his time in show horse training, Bregman said that he primarily worked with young horses that people would send to him to train. Bregman’s horses competed for the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association and the Palomino Horse Association.
Rides are provided to individuals 9 years of age and older.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.