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A horse is a horse but riding stables is one of a kind

Hannah Francis, Army Family member, takes a break from riding her horse, Cede, July 11 at the Fort Rucker Riding Stables. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Hannah Francis, Army Family member, takes a break from riding her horse, Cede, July 11 at the Fort Rucker Riding Stables. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: July 17, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 17, 2014) -- Many Army garrisons have conveniently located horse stables with a variety of equestrian services, and while some offer guided trail and pony rides others offer stall and pasture board, but none of them offer the amount of services that Fort Rucker does.

The Fort Rucker Riding Stables offers a full range of services to horses and their riders, such as boarding, entertainment for seasonal events, birthday pony parties, Western- and English-style riding competitions and lessons, and trails, said Martie Haverfield, recreation aide at the riding stables.

“We are truly a one-of-a-kind facility because of the variety of things we offer,” she said. “We have just too many amenities. We offer it all here in one place, and you can’t get that anywhere else, military wise or civilian wise.”

There are more than 10,000 acres of wooded trails, a clubhouse with bathroom and kitchen facilities, four community pastures, a hay barn, 40 duplex barns with individual tack rooms, 67 stalls, multiple segregated paddocks, two regulation dressage rings, two breaking pens, a lighted western and English style jump and show arena, a covered farrier’s shed and double wash stalls with warm water.

A feed service program is also available for patrons, along with a facility use program for those who board their horses on their land. Hay and stall bedding may be purchased from there, as well. The jump trails offered are cross-country preliminary, cross-country beginner novice, cross-country novice and cross-country training.

The boarding of privately owned horses is open to the public, but active-duty military have priority, and pricing depends on a person’s rank and the type of stall they wish to have their horse boarded in, said Haverfield, adding that immunization for all horses that are boarded is required and proof must be furnished to the stable office.

“We are Family oriented here, and for someone in a stressful job taking care and riding a horse is both hard work and relaxing.  This is a good place to come and get away from stress,” she said. “Being one-on-one with a horse in nature is one of the best feelings in the world.”

Horseback riding also has many benefits for children, as well, such as exercise, responsibility, concentration, motor skill function, confidence and how to face fears.

“People and horses create an unusual bond. You are on a 1,200-pound animal that is letting you guide them, and they are trusting you to steer them safely and protect them from harm,” said Jennifer Dean, horse trainer and lesson instructor. “They honestly enjoy being ridden, as well.”

The riding stables offers riding lessons in English and Western styles. The price is $35 per lesson and is taught in a one-on-one style. Lessons range from beginner to advanced, and horses are provided for the lessons, if necessary.

“Most of my students are really young and they all love it once they get over how nervous they are,” she said, adding that the freedom of riding a horse is a feeling that cannot be found anywhere else.

“The great thing about the facility is that it is on post, so we can really cater to the military, and the needs of Soldiers and Families,” continued Dean. “People don’t have to drive across town for a lesson, so many parents will drop their child off and spend the time doing errands or catering to their other children’s needs.”

The riding stables is also a place where Families can enjoy children’s birthday parties with a birthday pony party with Tony the pony.

The birthday pony party consists of access to the facility and the clubhouse for three hours, and one hour with Tony the Pony and his handler, said Aida Stallings, business manager for the community recreation division.

The pony parties are for toddlers and preschoolers up to 40 pounds. Price is $85 per party for up to 10 children.

The clubhouse has bathrooms, grills, refrigerators and a kitchen for people to use during parties, Stallings added.  The stables will hold an open house for the newly renovated club house tomorrow from 1-2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and everyone is invited.

The facility is looking for volunteers to sign up and help with the stable’s annual Fright Night Haunted Hay Ride that is held in October. Anyone over the age of 16 can volunteer to help with building, make-up and costumes, and acting to scare patrons.

The stables are located near Bldg. 20090 on Hatch Road, and the office is open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on boarding, pricing, riding instruction, volunteering or birthday parties, call 598-3384.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/130114/

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