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July 29, 2014
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Horses in our river valley

Photos by Marion Kaselle


Horses! They transport us, through our eyes, imaginations, bodies and souls. They abound in our river valley, with varied opportunities to know them.

When I arrived in western Sullivan County in 1984, the horse population was scant. Not so now. Back then, my search for a Thoroughbred and a barn to train with met with blank, silent faces, until serendipity led me to Debbie Norris and Brook Edge Farms in Bethel, NY. There I found my dream horse and the care and guidance I needed to proceed on a sound path. I eventually brought my mare home to my farm, with a companion for my partner to ride. A great joy has been living with my horses steps from my door. I did miss the camaraderie of fellow horse people that a training barn offers, special-interest friends with whom to share my obsessive adulation. So years later, after the passing of my partner and several horses, my dream mare still with me at home, I returned to ride with Debbie at Brook Edge Farms. While my mare, now 32, lounges in our pasture with her off-the-track rescue companion, I ride Debbie’s school horses, her eagle eye scraping the rust out of my joints to fine-tune me back to an equestrian self. John Annello joined Debbie at Brook Edge in 2011; he is another top trainer with a lifetime of experience and years at the top of the hunter-jumper show circuit, and another set of meticulous, extremely knowledgeable eyes that gently but firmly guide my pilgrim’s progress toward that ever elusive perfection.

Brook Edge Farms is a place to thoroughly and correctly learn the basics, specifically in English equitation, hunters and jumpers, then go as far beyond as you wish. Their students range in age from three years old to 70-something. Two barns and pastures are filled with the horses of boarders, sale horses, school horses and ponies, a breeding stallion and mares with their offspring. There is an outdoor and large indoor arena, heated wash stalls and tack room, and an always friendly, helpful, welcoming atmosphere. This is a show barn for those who wish it, attending local, regional and national shows, with three of their own—in May, August and September, open to curious onlookers to cheer the riders on.

Jill Welsh of Oak Ridge Farm in Youngsville, NY, offers another direction, with an emphasis on Western trail riding. Jill operates a boarding, breeding and lesson facility, just up the hill from the farm she grew up on. She teaches sound, basic horsemanship on steady mounts trained by her to be reliable and well rounded, handling whatever obstacles may appear upon a trail. Additionally, she teaches driving and therapeutic riding. As a registered nurse and a Level 2 instructor, she qualifies to teach the disabled, with a fully accessible ramp and safety gear in her indoor arena. Her beautiful 105-acre farm also has an outdoor grass arena and access to miles of trails.

Pennsylvania’s Wayne County hosts a number of facilities that provide training basics on safe, well-cared-for horses. Ben Goldberg of Fair Hill Farm in Tyler Hill, PA has a background with the elite of the hunter/jumper world. He works with beginners onward to the upper levels of a show career. His approach to all things Horse is holistic: in teaching, training, care, therapeutic work and farriery (the trimming and shoeing of horses’ hoofs: Ben is a certified, working farrier). Stressing classical equitation, he teaches riders to connect to their horse’s movement and energy through rhythm and balance, through spirit rather than “control,” to create empathetic harmony. The result is confidence and a safe environment for riders and horses.

Ben, a certified therapeutic riding instructor, has been working for many years with the physically, mentally and emotionally challenged. He and his father, Art, were among the founders of GallupNYC, the city’s therapeutic riding program. I spent a day at their Fair Hill Farm observing a large group of Honesdale High School students, half of them with special needs, the other half, for their senior project, working as trained volunteers assisting their fellow students. The entire group—students, staff and horses—interacted as a congenial, cohesive whole. The atmosphere was joyful, healing for all in attendance.

Karen Whitmore assists Ben Goldberg in the therapeutic riding programs, but also has her own training and boarding facility in Damascus, PA. She described her main activity as “a therapist for the horse–human relationship.” Additionally, she has created, with Diane Baynon, a mental health provider, an EAGALA program—that is, Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Therapy. They work with individuals and groups, students, staff, even CEOs, to reveal and heal relational, behavioral and managerial issues through interaction with Karen’s horses.

Rybak Horsemanship at Northeast Training Center in Damascus, PA is Stuart and Elizabeth Rybak. Natural Horsemanship is taught, Western and English. They host numerous clinics. Stuart, who trained with and hosts Craig Cameron as a clinician, is now giving his own horsemanship clinics around the country. In Stuart’s words: “I raise, train and teach. Horses and riders learn and grow together.” Training may include trails, obstacles, jumping, even roping and hunter pace.

You don’t have to be on a horse to be with a horse. Some of us yearn merely to be near them, to feed our eyes and soul with their presence. Their noble grace and power can still the breath and open one wide to earth’s wonders. They are healing creatures. Their sensitive, curious and social nature reads and responds to our energy, communicating through body language, breath, thought transference. Here are a number of ways to experience horses in our area while keeping two feet on the ground.

Fair Hill Farm, EAGALA (Karen Whitmore), Marley’s Mission and Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center have programs to bring children and adults together with horses to facilitate emotional healing, as well as build self-confidence, respect and compassion for other beings.

Other farms offer introductory sessions, grooming, proper etiquette and cautionary good practice. Apple Pond Farm, a horse-powered and educational farm in Callicoon Center, NY (also wind- and sun-powered), has weekly hourly sessions for kids, June through October, plus day-long “For the Love of Horses” clinics, and is available for private sessions by appointment, including for driving.Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center in Warwick, NY has programs available for the able-bodied, including “A Day at the Barn,” the two-hour “Farm Experience,” and volunteer training to work on the ground with the horses, for ages 13 up. Frost Valley in Claryville, NY hosts many “getting to know horses” weekend programs at their East Valley Ranch.

Horse shows, like those at Brook Edge Farms, are a place to spend hours mingling with horses and their people, and you’ll find these people of all ages friendly, receptive to queries and conversation. Horse people love to talk horse. Wear sensible shoes (no open toes or sandals) if you want to be near the horses, and securely leash your dog.

Upon them or by their side, may horses lead you to bright horizons.

[Marion Kaselle is the author and photographer of “TOUCHING HORSES: Communication, Health & Healing through Acupressure,” published in London by J.A. Allen, ©1995.]

Saddle up
*Listed in more than one category below
(This listing has been appended by the editorial staff.)

TRAINING FACILITIES

*BROOK EDGE FARMS
Debbie Norris and John Annello
904 Lt. Brender Hwy, Bethel, NY
845/292-5311

*OAK RIDGE FARM
Jill Welsh
222 Hessinger-Lare Rd., Youngsville, NY
845/482-4686

*BRIDLE HILL FARM
190 Hemmer Rd., Jeffersonville, NY
845/482-3993
Group and private lessons, after-school program; educational

*FAIR HILL FARM
Ben Goldberg
1046 Cochecton Tpk (Rte. 371), Tyler Hill, PA
570/224-5021

*LA QUARTER HORSE FARM
Cindy Galley
250 White Rd, Lake Ariel, PA
570/698-6032
Hunt Seat, Jumper & Equitation
Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, Reining, Halter & Trail
Adult and Youth Saddle Clubs, 4-H, Show Teams

*LAKE EQUESTRIAN CENTER
Elly Cullota or Jessie
181 Stock Farm Rd, Lake Ariel, PA
570/698-7672
Hunter/Jumper, English & Western Pleasure,
Showmanship & Trail

*RYBAK HORSEMANSHIP at NORTHEAST TRAINING CENTER
Stuart and Elizabeth Rybak
199 Marks Rd, Damascus, PA
570/224-4744

KAREN WHITMORE
Damascus, PA
570/224-6445

TRAILRIDING

*FROST VALLEY (supervised)
2000 Frost Valley Rd, Claryville, NY
www.frostvalley.org
845/985-2291, 985-2254

*BRIDLE HILL FARM Jeffersonville, NY
845/482-3993

*MALIBU DUDE RANCH & GUEST RANCH
351 Foster Hill Rd., Milford, PA
570/ 296-7281/Toll-free: 800/ 8MALIBU

HORSE SHOWS (public welcome, no charge)

*BROOK EDGE FARMS, Bethel, NY
May 17, August 9, September 20, 8 a.m. start
Equitation, Pleasure, Hunters and Jumpers

*BRIDLE HILL FARM Jeffersonville, NY
845/482-3993
Hosting Jeffersonville Lions Club Horse Show, Sat., July 26;

*LA QUARTER HORSE FARM, Lake Ariel, PA
English and Western divisions

*LAKE EQUESTRIAN CENTER, Lake Ariel, PA
English and Western divisions

STONE WALL FARM, Jeffersonville, NY
Barbara Moran
139 Callicoon Center Rd, Jeffersonville, NY
845/701-2418
Classic & Western Dressage Show Series: June 29, July 20, Sept. 28

*MALIBU DUDE RANCH & GUEST RANCH
570/ 296-7281/Toll-free: 800/ 8MALIBU
Mailbu Championship Rodeo series (every Saturday starting June 28), also roping and bull riding clinics

THERAPEUTIC RIDING

GAIT THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER
314 Foster Hill Rd, Milford, PA 18337
For people of any age with almost any
disability
570/409-1140

*FAIR HILL FARM, Tyler Hill, PA
570/224-5021

EAGALA: Equine Assisted Growth & Learning (Association) Therapy
Karen Whitmore and Diane Baynon
Damascus, PA
570/224-6445

MARLEY’S MISSION
2150 Port Royal Rd, Clarks Summit, PA
www.marleysmission.com
570/587-HOPE
“…equine-based therapy free of charge to children and their families who have experienced trauma… and now suffer with depression, anxiety and other symptoms as a result of abuse…. The primary focus of Marley’s Mission is to assist in healing” through engagement with horses. Treatment teams of a specially trained trauma therapist and an equine therapist. 501(c)3 non-profit.

*OAK RIDGE FARM Youngsville, NY
845/482-4686

*WINSLOW THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER
1433 Rte. 17A, Warwick, NY
www.winslow.org
845/986-6686

NON-MOUNTED EDUCATIONAL
‘TIME WITH HORSES’

APPLE POND FARM
Dick Riseling
80 Hahn Rd., Callicoon Center, NY
www.applepondfarm.com
845/482-4764
“For the Love of Horses”:featuring draft horses pulling logs, carriage
horses driving and riding horses of various breeds
“Farming with Kids”
“A Bit of Everything at Apple Pond Farm”

*WINSLOW THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER, Warwick, NY
www.winslow.org
845/986-6686
“Day at the Barn”, ages 7 to 12
“Farm Experience”
Volunteer Training to work on the ground with the therapeutic horses, age 13 and up, given monthly.

*FROST VALLEY
845/985-2291

*BRIDLE HILL FARM Jeffersonville, NY
845/482-3993

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMS

*FROST VALLEY
845/985-2291
2-week& 4-week programs, Girls only, age 10 and up
Mustang Village Programs – 2 weeks each, age 8 and up

*BRIDLE HILL FARM Jeffersonville, NY
845/482-3993
Day camp, 9am to 12 noon, starts June 23

*LAKE EQUESTRIAN CENTER, Lake Ariel, PA
570/698-7672

*LA QUARTER HORSE FARM, Lake Ariel, PA
570/698-6032

*WINSLOW THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER
www.winslow.org
845/986-6686
“Summer Adventure”: 5-day sessions, ages 7 – 12

MALIBU DUDE RANCH & GUEST RANCH
570/ 296-7281/Toll-free: 800/ 8MALIBU
Western Adventure Camp, cattle drives

VANDERBEEK FARM & EQUESTRIAN CENTER
Lackawaxen, PA

CLINICS

RO-NO RANCH
Nola Haupert-Keill
352 Hemlock Rd, Waymart, PA
570/937-4978
Gaited Horses, and more

*RYBAK HORSEMANSHIP at NORTHEAST TRAINING CENTER, Damascus, PA
570/224-4744
June 16-18: Barbra Schulte—Advanced Horsemanship Cutting
August 18-20: Craig Johnson—Advanced Horsemanship Reining
July 21-23, Aug 4-5, Sept 1-3, Sept 15-17: Craig Cameron— Horsemanship