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July 23, 2014
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Horses in our river valley

A Honesdale High School student receives a therapeutic riding lesson in balance, movement, trust and team work, with assistance from members of the high school’s senior class.

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.