July 2016 Austin American Statesman

November 2007 Country World

January 2002 issue of the TETRA newsletter


Where's the best new place in central Texas to saddle your horse and ride down some of the finest trails in the country?

The Happy Horse Hotel, nearly adjacent to McKinney Roughs, LCRA's new equestrian park, is celebrating its official opening during the Christmas Season. This little slice of horse & rider heaven boasts a brand new gingerbread bungalow under a stunning double gable tin roof that will sleep up to 4 eager riders in comfort. It features such extra touches as homemade shooting star curtains, a fire engine red countertop in the darling kitchenette, plenty of real dishes for dining on the delicacies you whip up after some quality horse time, and an arched window framing the often-spectacular sunset view. And the double gable ceiling, as seen from the inside, is simply a marvel of craftsmanship and construction.

The cozy, almost Elizabethan dream cottage of former Renaissance artists Hollis Wayne and Beaux Graham, this isn't the average ol' horse camp site -- it is a unique, functional and utterly charming getaway bearing the distinctive artistic stamp of two people who are nuts about riding and horses. Their goal: to build a place where horse and rider can be comfortable, safe and rested, ready to enjoy the fabulous trails at McKinney Roughs, then chill out afterwards so they can ride again the next day -- and the day after that!

These occasional endurance riders, who have a local reputation for seldom dawdling on the trail, ride as often as possible at McKinney Roughs and had been thinking about a way to help more people do the same. Last June they grabbed up the hand tools and cleared away the brambles and thick undergrowth from a corner of their 9 acres of wooded riding trails (The Gymnasium," Hollis calls it), leaving the larger mesquite and cedar trees intact. All summer they contemplated the placement possibilities while drawing up a complex building plan that will eventually include a small horse barn for nasty weather; several outdoor pen possibilities for up to 6 horses; graveled spaces for one or two rigs and/or people who want to really camp out in their truck or tent; a covered pavilion under a big pecan tree; and a cottage floor plan that will sleep up to 4 people. In October, plan in hand and hope in their hearts, they began to build.

The first truckload of lumber arrived along with the cooler fall air and HHH began in earnest.

Several days later husband Beaux (a better geek, photographer and horseman than carpenter), stood on top of the floor and walls he'd erected, scratching his head. "Honey, I don't really have a clue about how to build your double gable roof. Wanna do a shed roof instead?" he asked hopefully, waving his hammer in a friendly manner then suggesting it was time for lunch.

Wisely, expert aid was enlisted immediately. "BE HAPPY -- CALL PAPY" the sign said. Truer words were never written. 5 weeks later, the bungalow is finished to perfection -- thanks to two fine wood wizards with the tools, daring and expertise to build such a thing. Holiday Inn it isn't, of course. It's much more interesting and way more useful to anyone travelling with a horse!

Make your own dinner either inside or out on the grill while you tend your blessed beasts. Sleep on fine beds and linens under colorful quilts within ear shot of their pleadings for carrots. Carry turkish towels off to the Privy & Bathhouse after you're done checking on their water and they've slobbered on you for the last time that day. Splash off the dirt, grime and sweat with water heated on a Coleman stove. Sit inside the screened windows, away from the bugs, gazing raptly at the tile and iron art on the walls, dining on the tasty meal you've just whipped up. Check on the beasties once more during the last moonlit stroll to the Privy before your head hits that inviting pillow. It's the little touches that make a horse girl sigh with delight and appreciation. Exotic rugs on the floor, tea in the cupboard, a great hat hook.... It's a long way from camping, but not too far!

A fitting horse shelter is still in the works, maybe for next year. Right now the horses are safely corralled right off the front porch, not far from the BBQ grill and picnic table, so they can watch their keepers tend to the needs of man and beast in an essentially open air, country environment. There is one graveled campsite for rigs if you have one, and a warm, dry, bug-free, adorable bungalow to sleep in if you don't. There is electricity, running water and the most unique outhouse in Bastrop County. Well-behaved, quiet pets are allowed.

But the best part is obvious: saddle up and ride into the horsie gymnasium of trails at the Happy Horse site; or boogey a mile up the dirt road to the horse entrance at McKinney Roughs. There, all trails lead to the Colorado River. The riding is spectacular, no matter what kind you do. Endurance? Come for two weeks and use Happy Horse as base camp while you train and condition on the varied terrain. Ambling along on your gaited wonder? The firm flat dirt footing along the river is a gaited horseman's dream. Want to train your energetic, know-nothing youngster? A wide variety of challenges offer a trainer's delight for accustoming an inexperienced horse to trail life.

And when you've had all the riding you can handle for one day, amble on back to Happy Horse, put up your steed and set a spell on the porch. Brew a cup of Earl Grey in the black dragon teapot. Sing horse songs with your friends around the fire pit while you prepare your dinner as the sun sets over open country.

Hollis and Beaux spent 25 years doing what they call "Elegant Camping" at the Renaissance Faires where they sold their work. They built intriguing structures they could work and sleep in and use as a sales showcase for their art. They had a fabulous time living in them for 4 to 6 months a year, in all kinds of weather. Now they've recreated that concept and instead of art and production, HORSE is the focal point. There is even a Happy Horse Manual for how to use the place most effectively.

Looks like it's going to work just fine!

The introductory fees are reasonable for so much charm and comfort. $75 a day for the bungalow and $10 per horse. Rig parking with electricity is $20 per day and $10 per horse. Reservations required. Hay available. And as a special for TETRA members only, for a limited time, show your card and get a dozen of Hollis' Famous Oatmeal Pecan Raisin Cookies! Now there is some fuel for riding!

You can get in touch with these two Hoteliers by calling 512-303-0589, or contacting them through the www.HappyHorseHotel.com website. Which they would prefer since they're not usually inside to answer the phone. They're both over at Happy Horse, putting the finishing touches on this interesting Bed and Bales Experience.

Beaux & Hollis

(512) 303-0589
860 Pope Bend North
Cedar Creek, TX 78612





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