Summer is usually a time to kick back and relax but for area horse farms it’s been a busy season, offering a mix of activities and events for young equestrians.
Ashley Charron has owned Affinity Horse Farm in Alna a little over a year and provides lessons (English and Western), summer camps, competition in horse shows and guided trail rides.
Charron been riding since she was 8 and always knew she wanted to help youngsters enjoy horses. She recently told the Boothbay Register, “There are a thousand things they can do with horses. Every kid has an idea of what they would like to do and we try to give them lots of options.”
Charron said her farm is “youth-centered,” with horses that are “kid safe,” and activities are offered for ages 5-12 and adults. The farm has 14 horses which include boarders, “lesson horses” and “camp horses” and welcomes beginners. The farm also has five miniature horses which are not ridden but are tended by the students.
Charron will offer one last camp this year, for Halloween. It will be a “trunk or treat” with “dressed up horses.” Guided trail riding for children and adults will be offered at her farm and at Popham Beach through the fall.
In Boothbay, Katie Yereance operates Sea-Vu Farm. She owned her first Morgan horse when she was 14. She spent years working alongside Dawn Murphy and took over the farm when Murphy retired in 2012. “Now, we are full,” Yereance said. The farm has 22 Morgan horses in board and being trained five to six days each week.
Sea-Vu Farm is a year-round indoor riding facility which offers lessons but no summer camp. Yereance explained, “We’re a show barn. Our mission is showing and teaching young people to ride.” Lessons are offered for adults and for youngsters 4 years and older.
The training has resulted in teams that compete in shows all over New England and, at times, travel as far as Oklahoma City for the Morgan Grand National and World Championship show.
Yereance said on average between eight and 11 riders will go to a show and the shows are held between May and October. The rest of the year, the horses are exercised.
Becky Abbott and Amy Reny of Burke’s Island Farm in Boothbay have seen a non-stop summer. The farm has 16 boarded and lesson horses and an indoor ring and provides classes Monday through Saturday all year to students age 4 and up.
“We offer camps all summer and any weekday that school is closed,” said Reny. Camp attendees are typically age 4-13. The farm also offers an after school program without riding for children 4 years and up.
Reny and Abbott built the barn over seven years ago, and took what could have been an exhausting summer schedule in stride, offering horse camp every week and participating in seven shows over the summer. The farm had nine riders at every local show last year.
“We’re a learning barn, not a show barn,” explained Abbott. She said they like to involve youngsters in a range of activities with the horses and the barn.
The farm has a mix of breeds which include Friesians, Morgans, quarter horses and Andalusians. The lesson horses teach children because they are used to carrying unbalanced riders so they are “trustworthy, safe and very tolerant,” Abbott explained. Learning to ride has often made a significant change in a young person’s life, she said. “Riding is for kids who don’t want to play team sports. We’ve seen students transition from hiding behind their parents to not wanting their parents around.”
Reny and Abbott also operate the non-profit “Charlie and Friends Second Stride Rescue LLC” which rescues horses bound for slaughter. Donations are tax deductible and can be sent to the charity at 509 Wiscasset Road, Boothbay, ME 04537.
Ashley Charron summed up the work involved for horse farm owners who offer summer camps, lessons and other activities. “It’s a lot of work having a horse farm,” she said. “There are no breaks, no days off. It’s not a hobby or a job, it’s a lifestyle or a passion.”
For more information about programs offered at these farms, contact:
Affinity Horse Farm: 841-7864
Sea-Vu Farm: 380-1848
Burke’s Island Farm: 350-6122