Archive for August, 2013

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Whispering Hope Stables – Scott Hofstetter Clinic

August 15th, 2013

FINAL-whs2013-COLOR-WH-5Please join us at Whispering Hope Stables for a Scott Hofstetter Clinic on October 12th and October 13th.

Scott began his rise to fame in 1986, when as a junior rider he won the ASPCA Maclay Equitation Finals at Madison Square Garden. Since then, he has gone on to win Leading Hunter Rider Awards at Devon, the Capital Challenge, the Washington International, and the National Horseshow. He now is a popular judge officiating at all of these events, as well as, a sought-after clinician.

This clinic is $250 for two days. There will be two hour sessions each day split according to fence height. Call our office at (919) 851-6237 to reserve your spot.  There are a limited amount of spots available and spectators are welcome, but you must RSVP to get a pass.  We hope to see you there!

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Raleigh’s Top Horse Boarding Facility Made the News in the Southeast Equine Monthly

August 5th, 2013

Raleigh’s Top Horse Boarding Facility and Laurie Hutchinson made the news in the August 2013 edition of the Southeast Equine Monthly Magazine.  Here is the link and a copy of the article.

The Link:  www.equinemonthly.com

Never Too Late

 by Laurie Hutchinson

Many of us started this obsession with horses as little girls with a dream.  Once bitten by the horse bug, this dream takes many different forms: For some it was to have a pony of their own.  For others, it may have been the dream to be an Olympian, or an equine vet. For many, it was simply to be able to spend time in the magical land where one special horse knew all our secrets and made us feel safe in their strength and our connection to nature. Whether these dreams were indulged to any degree, for the vast majority of us reality set in at some point, and careers and family life forced us to shelve our love of horses for a time. Many years later, with time constraints and perhaps financial burdens eased, many women find themselves longing to fulfill those childhood dreams once again. But, is it too late?

Absolutely not. True, bones have hardened with time and we are more aware of our fragility than we once were. Perhaps some injury along the road of life has made us a little more nervous around these half-ton creatures than we were when we were much smaller.  But with safety at the forefront, and armed with a logical system of how to effectively communicate with the horse, many women are once again feeling the wind blow through their hair, albeit this time, it’s through the vents of a high-tech helmet.

A Supportive Community

Whispering Hope Stables, a premier boarding and training facility in Raleigh, NC, has responded to this need by creating the  “Never Too Late Club”.  In an often competitive equine environment, a nurturing, supportive network has been developed in which women can get comfortable around horses again, without fear of being judged by more experienced equestrians. Groups of women, ranging from those who have once upon a time spent many hours in the saddle, to those who just want to dip a toe into their childhood dream, gather once a week, each assigned a dependable mount for the occasion. After an hour of riding, the women commune in the lounge for appetizers and drinks, and to talk about the experience, which quickly evolves into discussions of the joy and magic that horses have brought into their lives, and the experiences that brought them back in touch with their dream.

“My daughter, Sara, is obsessed with horses. I have a deep love of animals, and want to be able to share this experience with her,” says Amy Peters, owner of Whispering Hope Stables and founder of the Never Too Late Club. “I noticed a theme in many of the people calling for lessons, in that they were concerned about their time away from horses, and I wanted to create a community to let women explore a return to riding without feeling like they needed to be an expert to join us.”

One of the concerns many women have is how fit they need to be to ride. Riding depends mainly on having enough core strength to stay balanced initially, and cardiovascular fitness helps, but for any rider returning to the saddle, finding a reliable horse to begin the journey is the most important step.  A bad experience cannot only take all the joy out of the years our potential rider has spent dreaming of this moment, it can also quickly get dangerous. Having such a large animal out of control is not only scary, but can easily result in a serious injury.

Establishing Trust

Before mounting, it is important to understand the evolutionary consequences of the horse being an animal of prey. Armed with hooves and teeth designed for grazing, horses are ill-equipped to defend themselves against predators, and relay mainly on signals from their herd, their wide-set eyes, swiveled ears, and sense of smell, to determine whether to flee from danger.  Removed from their herd, the horse depends largely on the human for confidence, and body language is key in establishing trust and respect.

Direct eye contact can either be perceived as a threat, or an order from a senior herd member to move out of the way. To stay out of trouble, it is important to recognize when a horse is distressed being overly assertive. Ignoring the signs of nostrils flaring, pinned ears, and a madly swishing tail could lead to further aggression such as a bite, kick, or buck.  A key element of safety on the ground is that the handler maintains an area of personal space that a horse should respect and stay out of.  If this is not established, a horse can quickly step into that space and onto or over the handler if a threat is perceived.  Attention to the personal space of the handler needs to be the number one priority of a safe horse.

Back in the Saddle

When mounted, rider safety translates into being able to stop and dismount at any point.  Each new gait or movement needs to incorporate another “testing of the brakes,” so that the rider’s confidence never waivers. Without confidence, there can be no relaxation, and therefore no fun!

It can be very intimidating to get up on the back of a horse after years on the ground.  It is very important to realize that some fear and self-preservation is normal, and that the skill of learning to handle a horse needs to be tackled with patience, by slowly building a new history of positive experiences that allow the rider to build confidence. A kind and patient professional is key to arming the rider with the tools needed to respond to new tasks and new fears as they arise.

Once the swinging of the horse’s back as he walks starts to feel like a normal mode of transportation, the possibilities are limited only by the ambitions of the rider and abilities of the horse.  Many a professional began riding as an adult, and Princess Anne rode in the Olympics at age 70!

Whether your dream is to assist with therapy horses, stroll through the woods with friends, or someday head into the competitive arena, it is Never Too Late to bring the joy of horses back into your life.