By Maggie Beamguard
The 7 Lakes Stables continues a season of stabilization. After addressing the health of the herd and safety concerns last summer, the outstanding questions regarding insurance for the premium Seven Lakes North and South amenity were resolved late last year.
The previous insurance was the kind of liability you would have for owning a horse personally according to Stables director Jenn Wallace. But the program had grown and changed over the years into a lesson program. And there was no insurance to cover lessons nor were there certified instructors.
After a total reboot of the program, 7 Lakes Stables was able to show the insurance company its qualifications and Wallace’s certification from the American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA) and her past certification as a judge.
While not covered to cover jumping or trail rides off property, the riding lesson program is now appropriately insured.
“I was trying to create a program that was a good offering for kids to grow,” she said. “If they really want to specialize then they move on to another level of instruction”
“We are up and going,” said Wallace. “The insurance finally got straightened out to allow us to teach. So we’ve gone back to offering lessons to those that want them.”
Riding lessons are fee-based with different rates with private or semi-private options for residents and sponsored guests.
The stables also continue to grow the amenity program for people who want to come out and enjoy the horses without riding.
An afterschool program began the third week of January on Fridays, and a homeschool program is held on Wednesdays. These student programs provide a chance for community building around the education and care of the horses and the routine activities of the stables.
A military program is in the works. They hope to secure funding with the help of the Green Beret Foundation to provide for quarterly retreats for military families in the community
Community member Barbara Stender, a dressage judge, has come forward to offer clinics to the staff and a program for seniors in the community. Conversations have touched on an over-65 program and engaging with the Seven Lakes Assisted Living and Memory Care.
The Stables Club has also restarted. It is open to all ages who have an interest in education, community service and drill team.
“Drill team is not just for kids, Wallace said. “We have an adult group already in drill team. You know, you could be a beginner all the way up to a more advanced rider.”
The team rides together to music and creates presentations. Some drill team members don’t even ride, but stay on the ground with the horses. Everyone is included.
New horses have joined the herd, including Tucker and Doc who arrived in November. Tucker is a solid, good guy who loves a good meal.
“He is definitely food motivated,” said Wallace. “I call him Grandpa Horse. He’s very sweet. He’s very solid. If you haven’t ridden before he’s the horse for you.”
Doc is Tucker’s buddy. They came as a pair. “Doc is more of an intermediate level horse. He is very sweet, but more athletic and a little more sensitive. So right now it’s mostly staff or the lesson kids for him.”
Of previous horses, Gary was placed in an appropriate home and Angel returned to her original owner.
The most recent addition is Bob, a large draft horse. At publication time, community members were voting on a new name for Bob. Staff and volunteers also refer to him as “Not Bob” since his name may just be temporary. The names being considered by the community are: Ramapo, Tiny, Big J after the lake, and Mowgli “Moe.”
Wallace feels good about the direction the stables is going, and is especially excited about the devotion of the staff and volunteers.
“They truly care about the horses,” she said.
She is equally excited about seeing the community come back to the barn and to start riding again.
“They are noticing the difference in the horses. They’re noticing that the horses are more engaged with them. It’s nice to see that even as lay people, they can notice that the horses went through something and have recovered,” Wallace said.
“And so now it is kind of the fun part of being able to bring the community and horses together, coming from a place of empathy, to enjoy each other and have fun and learn about horses.”
Wallace wants people in the community to know the stables are available to them.
“I’ve had a lot of people feel kind of shy about just coming up and wanting to groom, or wanting to sit with them or wanting to just hang out,” said Wallace. But all people need to call and schedule a time to come by.
Wallace also wants people to know that the horses do sleep in the pasture. The stables office receives phone calls from folks who think the horses have died. She says the horses are comfortable enough to lay down now and this is normal behavior for them to rest or even sunbath.
They are also working on educating the community about not feeding the horses over the fence. “We have a couple of horses out there on special diets,” she said. “One in particular has the human equivalent of diabetes and is on medication.”
Residents are welcome to make an appointment to come feed them at the stables.
To schedule a lesson or give the horses an officially sanctioned snack, call the stables at (910) 673-4738.
Contact Maggie Beamguard at email@example.com.