Show up at RarityBayEquestrianCenter on LakeTellico any day of the week, and you will find Tim Thomas hard at work doing what he loves to do best - working with horses.

Thomas, director of the center, says, “Not too many people get to do what they love for a living.” He does. He has been working with the horses at RarityBay for three years now. His educational background is in engineering, and he spent more than ten years working in that field. But engineering was just a job to Thomas.

Three years ago when his dream job opportunity presented itself, he grabbed at the chance to become the director of the EquestrianCenter. He grew up around horses and loved riding them and working with them. His days start early around 6:30 a.m. and do not end until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. – a long day for such hard work.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” declares Thomas.

RarityBay has a lot to offer horse lovers with 15 miles of developed riding trails, hayrides, carriage rides, and evening bonfires. There are 48 horses housed at the EquestrianCenter.

“If you don’t like to ride,” Thomas says, “That’s ok. Just come on down, bring a keg. We’ll build a fire, hangout, and listen to some music and have a good time.” 

The EquestrianCenter offers boarding, assistance to those in the market to buy a horse, riding lessons, and other needed training. They sponsor 4-H events and events for kids with disabilities, allowing them to spend time with the horses riding the trails and going on hayrides.

“It’s very therapeutic for the kids,” says Thomas.

Last winter Tim got involved with the Smoky Mountain Rodeo Association (SMRA). This organization, based in Nashville, is a not-for-profit volunteer organization promoting education, charity, and enjoyment of the western lifestyle. SMRA hosts fund raising events, such as yard sales and car washes as well as sponsoring a Royalty Bash, annually crowning a Mister and Misses SMRA. Their fundraising efforts benefit GLBT community organizations. SMRA has raised money for organizations that do HIV/AIDS research, animal welfare, and children/young adult services focusing on social issues in our society as a whole. SMRA currently has four members from East Tennessee. They will be holding a membership drive this fall at Kurt’s Bar and Grill in Knoxville. For those interested in becoming a part of an organization that believes in having good clean fun, giving back to the community, and making new and long lasting friends from all over the U.S. and Canada, SMRA is the way to go.

SMRA is also part of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). SMRA became the 24th IGRA chapter in July 2003. Currently there are 26 chapters nationwide. They produce eighteen sanctioned rodeos each year. Nashville will host this year’s IGRA convention. Dates are from Oct. 19 – 24. It will consist of meeting members, great food, fun, awards ceremonies, and entertainment.

SMRA and RarityBayEquestrianCenter will be sponsoring Play Day in March 2007, to introduce East Tennessee to the gay rodeo scene. Play Days are for everyone from the beginner to the expert equestrian. It’s fun for the whole family. There will be roping and riding for those who want to participate. There will also be a barbeque with all the trimmings. Everyone is invited.

So mark your calendars and plan to attend the IGRA convention on Oct. 19-22 and the Play Day in March of 2007. Come out and show your support to an organization that is giving back to the community and helping to make peoples’ lives a little bit better in the process. Take a trip down to the Equestrian center at RarityBay and visit with Tim Thomas.

SMRA and Play Dance Club in Nashville are hosting the Mr. Bud Light 2007 Finals on Sept. 24,2006, at 9:00 p.m. The winner of the final competition will be Mr. Bud Light from Jan. 01, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2007. 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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