Meet the McCaffrees

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By Lanier Laney

If you haven’t met Brian and Melanie McCaffree yet, then you absolutely must. They win my vote as one of Beaufort’s 2014 most captivatingly fun young couples.

Melanie and Brian McCafree at the Kentucky Derby.
Melanie and Brian McCaffree at the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky native Melanie grew up on a horse farm outside of Louisville — the Thoroughbred Capital of the World. As Melanie says, “Horses and Bourbon run in my veins.”

Her father was a renowned trainer and breeder of Tennessee Walking Horses and her grandfather was a legendary Louisville “horse whisperer” long before it became a popular term in today’s world.

Melanie is a successful horse trainer and teacher here now in the Lowcountry having opened Short Stirrup Stables for Children just outside of Habersham in a beautiful historic barn.

Says Melanie, “Horses are so healing for children and adults. There’s an old saying, ‘the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man’. I can be having a terrible day that turns around with a quick nuzzle from my horse.”

Her husband of eight years, Brian McCaffree, from a distinguished Montana family, also has a horse filled past, having grown up raised by cowboys on a ranch in Billings, Montana.

Melanie says, “Brian grew  up ranching in Montana’s big sky country, with snowy winters and trout streams — a boy’s idea of heaven. He was fly fishing by the age 7 and was just as ‘hooked’ as the trout he caught.”

Brian and his parents’ love of the ocean brought him to Spring Island from land-locked Montana, where he got a Captains license and started a charter fishing business called Holden On Charters (see all the big fish they catch on their Facebook page).

Melanie teaches the children of the Lowcountry elite to ride horses for the first time; lessons are for beginner to intermediate. She says, “Safety, safety, safety is our motto! Both Marianne (her fellow teacher) and I are safety nuts when riding or being around horses.”

Then she adds, “Secondly, it has to be fun! Recently, one of our students turned 10 and had a huge birthday party at the barn. Pony rides, games and lots of cake. Probably the best birthday party ever. All the kids were completely enthralled with not only the horses but the barn life itself.”

The party gave children who wouldn’t normally ride a chance to have a pony ride and build a confidence that was instant the minute they were in the saddle.

In describing her fellow teacher Marianne, Melanie said, “If ever I had a mentor it was Marianne Murphy. As luck would have it, Marianne has moved to Beaufort and is training children at Short Stirrup. If my family gave me ‘horse sense,’ Marianne gave me style.”

Melanie, who used to run the equestrian program at Spring Island, met her future husband Brian there.

“We met during a trail ride on mules, of all things. Brian, fresh from Montana, wore skin tight Wranglers and a tall black cowboy hat — something he would never be caught in now, which is a shame because it’s a smoking HOT look,” Melanie recalled with a smile. “In an attempt to impress me, he fell off his mule on his butt. That was it. I fell in love and we got married — that was eight happy years ago!”

Brian now works for Gulfstream and loves it. He said, “It’s a great company and I’m proud to be a part of its growth.”

In his spare time, Brian’s still on the river, running fishing charters.

Melanie and Brian also love Jack Russell Terriors. Even though early in their marriage Brian pronounced, “We are not small dog owners!,” he now adores them.

And Melanie claims the dogs have given her a life mission saying, “Live life like a Jack Russell — fearless, intuitive, energetic, devoted, and above all comical!”

When it comes to Beaufort, they said, “Beaufort has everything we love. The land is beautiful, the water is beautiful and the people are beautiful!”

Melanie and Brian have also both worked hard this year on Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Lafayette Soiree to be held at Alison and Mark Guilloud’s beautiful home this Saturday, April 5. Melanie is head of the decorations committee and Brian helped Mark build the 18th century French village for the theme “April in Paris.”

Adds Melanie, “Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with an incredibly smart team for a great cause, The Lafayette Soirée for Historic Beaufort Foundation.”

Melanie has done such a superb job as committee head this year  that she has been asked to be next year’s chairperson for the 45th annual Lafayette Soiree to be held at the spectacular Marsha Williams and Scott Sonic home in the historic Point neighborhood.  Something to look forward to!