The Horse and Rider Connection

Restoration & Maintenance through Equine Massage Therapy

The News of Orange - 11 May 2005

Nelle Beck attends horse riding lessons at the Blue Skies of MapleView Farm off Dodson's Crossroads every Tuesday after school. Deftly saddling her horse Ginger, she talked about her experiences at the farm as she led the horse to the walking ring.

"I had to earn my reins here, " she said. "I'm gonna be a lot more safe because of that."

After recognizing the "horse fever" that she possessed, Beck attended the Horsemanship Camp in 2003. It was there that she became familiar with the animals and the farm. And she has taken individual riding lessons ever since.

"I just think horses are so sweet, " she said, looking at Ginger.

The Horsemanship Camp familiarizes children with horses and forges a mutual trust between riders and the animals, said Blue Skies of MapleView Farm owner Deborah Pearson-Moyer.

At the camp, everything is taught from how to tack up a horse to massage and anatomy. Like Beck, all the children begin by riding bareback, and have to earn their saddle and bridle. This teaches them not to be scared and to really bond with the animals. Pearson-Moyer said.

"They will leave here knowing how to take care of a horse, " she said.

Helpers will teach campers how to "speak the language of equus" and how to connect with the animals in a way they may not be used to.

"I'm afraid kids are not having contact with the physical world, " Pearson-Moyer said, calling it a sort of "virtual childhood" of televisions and computers.

"I think horses can help heal that," she said confidently.

From Pinto Bean to Romeo to Ginger, all the animals are gentle-natured and patient with the children.

Pearson-Moyer has been around horses most of her life. She worked as a race horse groom in Illinois and led trail ride groups in Virginia before coming to North Carolina. She also holds a degree in counseling from the University of Illinois and has taught riding to children since 1996, and adult since 2003.

"There are people that are expert with horses and some are expert with people; I think I have a little of each, " Pearson-Moyer said.

Pearson-Moyer conducts individual riding lessons for children ages eight to 17 during the school year and offers summer camp for children ages seven to 16.

For children who don't learn quickly, they will still have a great time being around the horses, Pearson-Moyer said.

"I teach them not to compare themselves to each other, " Pearson-Moyer said.

Bobbi Whittemore, owner of the Horse and Rider Connection, helps Pearson-Moyer co-direct the camp each summer. She is an equine massage therapist, and passes some of her knowledge along to the campers as they learn about the anatomy of horses and the necessity of massage in animals as well as humans.

"It is a fabulous way for the horses and kids to bond, " Whittemore said. "(Campers) love horses and always find a way to come back."

Comments? Send them via e-mail: keri.clay@newsoforange.com

The camp weeks run from June 2- to June 24; June 27 to July 1; July 11 to July 15; July 18 to July 22; Aug. 8 to Aug. 12 and Aug. 15 to Aug. 19.