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Caring For A Horse | Horseback Riding: Fantasy Vs. Reality

Posted By: JR

The reality of owning and caring for horses is often overlooked in the romanticized version of what people think. If you ask anyone involved in the hobby of horseback riding, they will all tell you the same thing: it’s a lot of responsibility.

“While owning a horse is an amazing experience, it is a lot of hard work” Pat Haines, owner of SJ Riding Camp in Ellington, said. “It is a huge amount of work simply caring for a horse, let alone the time riding.”

SJ Riding Camp is a place for young girls to learn more about horses, improve riding skills and take on the responsibilities of horse care. Most summers, over 200 campers participate throughout the summer with a staff of 25 horse enthusiasts.

Heather Hollay-Farr, a trainer and owner of Hollywood Equine , stresses the time and dedication required for general responsibilities of caring for a horse.

“Cleaning is number one,” she said. “Feeding would be number two. Horses eat a lot, which brings you back to responsibility one. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and get dirty if you want to care for horses.”

Hollay-Farr also mentioned training, veterinarians and farrier (a specialist in hoof care) are also very important aspects to consider.

Hollywood Equine was founded in Ellington in the early ’70s with the purchase of 14 acres. The farm is now home to a large arena, an outdoor ring and boarder stalls. An average of 50 people per week use the facilities, and Hollywood Equine recently formed a team to compete on the Interscholastic Equestrian Association scene.

Kelly Glogowski, 22, has been riding horses since she was 10, and despite all of the hard work, it would be an understatement to say she loves caring for and riding horses.

“It’s in your blood,” she said. “When you start riding, either you’ve got it or you don’t. When I started lessons, I was hooked.”

Glogowski helps care for the six horses at Laurie Gundlach’s farm in Somers and has been training horses since she was 12. Her responsibilities include feeding the horses four times a day (grain twice and hay twice), cleaning the horses and riding them. Her favorite horse at Gundlach’s is a 14-year-old named Monty.

“This is why I’ve been jacked since I was 10,” Glogowski said as she was carrying water to the horses in 5-gallon buckets, two at a time.

In addition to caring for a horse, the animals need exercise. The horses at Gundlach’s farm are ridden once a day and frequently walked. They have large stalls that are open to yards for a spacious, contained area. The horses are also often let out to pasture.

“It’s important that they have a lot of pace,” Glogowski said. “All of our horses are in shape. We make sure we work them, but if we work them hard one day, the next day will be a really light day.”

It is important to familiarize yourself with the horse you are going to be riding because “horses are much bigger and stronger than humans, and one cannot forget they do have a mind of their own,” said Haines.

Some of the best places to ride in Connecticut, according to Haines, Hollay-Farr and Glogowski include Tyrone Farm in Pomfret.

Other horse-friendly trails in Connecticut include , Candlelight Farms Stables in New Milford, Hop Brook Dam Park in Naugatuck, James L. Goodwin Horse Trails in Hampton, Natchaug State Forest in Eastford and Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown.

Glogowski prefers to ride in open fields, where you can develop better skill, she says because you have more inclines and natural elements to deal with instead of a flat dirt circle.

Hollay-Farr also likes to ride in horse shows and competitions.

“Many people think of trail and pleasure riding as the only type of riding,” she said. “Horse shows and competitions are a great way to enjoy not only the beauty and intelligence of the horse, but their superior athleticism with the thrill of competition.”

A couple of fun facts about horses shared by Glogowski:

A horseshoe should never be hung upside-down because the luck will fall out, and

If you blow into a horse’s nose and it blows back, that means you’re friends.

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