Sam is an American Spotted Draft, and the largest member of the LaBelle Equestrian herd. A gentle giant, he loves people and is a favorite of visitors to the farm. During kids’ camps he is our “yoga horse,” as kids practice doing various poses at the halt and walk on his massive back. He is happy to cooperate, and seems to enjoy this part of his job. He is also a wonderful lesson horse for adults and can accommodate larger riders.
The “Pony Pen” Crew
One of the highlights of a trip to LaBelle Equestrian is visiting the “Pony Pen,” home to Blu, a Shetland pony; Reggie, a miniature horse; Olivia and Betty Jean, the goats; and Opal the llama. While Blu does occasionally act as a riding horse for very small children, this herd mostly enjoys being fed treats, grooming sessions, and just hanging out with no particular agenda.
Abby is a beautiful Welsh pony and a favorite of students in the lesson program. Though she doesn’t live at LaBelle Equestrian, she frequently visits for lessons, camps and events. Playful and energetic while also kind and trustworthy, she is an ideal pony for both beginners and advanced students.
Crow is a stunning black beauty with a mysterious past that left him extremely reactive, tense, flighty, and distrustful. A friend of mine bought him from a horse trader, who described him as an ex barrel racer who was suitable as a quiet partner for trails and light arena riding. Not long after my friend bought him, she called me and told me she was afraid to ride him. Thinking she was overreacting, we scheduled an appointment at her place. When I arrived I could see why she did not want to get on, he looked like he was about to jump out of his skin and explode. We don’t know if he was drugged when she bought him, or if he was so shut down we didn’t see his underlying temperament, but regardless of the reason he was absolutely not the calm, quiet, safe horse she had been looking for. Though she continued to work with him on the ground, she never did feel comfortable riding him again. Eventually she got another horse and let me take Crow to see if I could help him come around.
I have learned so much from Crow, at times wondering if he would ever recover from whatever happened to him. It has been a long and patient process.We worked with our vet, chiropractor, bodyworker, and even an animal communicator. There was definitely no quick fix but instead lots of time spent helping him let go of the tension in his body and creating a safe space where he could learn to trust people. An incredible athlete, I hope that Crow will be a horse that students can eventually ride and compete. In the meantime, we continue to move at his pace, as I improve my in-hand skills and he works with students from the ground.