On Saturday, the weather was balmy and gorgeous, and we were itching to get out of the house.
Desiring a new destination rather than our usual jaunt to the local park, we piled into the car for a road trip into the mountains of West Virginia.
My friend Carolyn operates a horse farm, Bellasana Stables in Shepherdstown, where she rescues neglected and abused horses to aid in their recovery. She also takes in retired show horses, race horses, and camp trail horses, and leases space for boarders.
She gives riding lessons, and “equine facilitated therapeutic lessons” for people with disabilities – for which she received her 4-year college degree.
The kids love to visit her farm… there are goats and chickens to feed, huge horses to gawk over, and children to play with…. although we don’t get an opportunity to travel in that direction as often as we’d like.
I took along my sketch book, and managed to capture a few rough drawings of horses carrying riders.
I needed the references for gentleman cat portraits I have in mind.
We also captured quite a bit of video while we were there… also helpful for later drawing references! Especially now that I’ve learned how to grab single frames from video! :D
When we returned home, I edited a few clips together to create this new YouTube video. I saved my favorite bit for the ending:
Check out the horse who untied his lead rope! ;D
Joe also brought along the camera, and we took turns photographing goats, horses, birds… and children frolicking in the grass.
This was only Jacob’s second visit to Bellasana… and he doesn’t remember his first experience as a six-month-old.
He made a couple additional appearances while still inside my womb, and fortunately survived one disastrous encounter when a horse’s hoof connected with my upper thigh, mere inches away from my very pregnant belly. :/
I was standing off to his side while grooming him, and apparently picked a sensitive scab…
I didn’t realize that horses can karate chop kick sideways!
I think the surprise and fear were stronger than the pain, although I had a huge, blackish hoof shaped bruise across my thigh for weeks.
Needless to say, I’ll always prefer animals that can fit comfortably on my lap.
But I can proudly cross it off my list…
“Stung by a hornet? Check.”
“Bitten by a stray dog? Check.”
“Kicked by a horse? Check.”
“Broken any bones?”……
Although Joe and I are both leery of these monstrous beasts, their powerful legs, and huge teeth…the children have no fear, and wanted *real* pony-rides.
Carolyn was busy teaching lessons to her regular students, though, and we had to content ourselves with being spectators.
Her summer riding camps are starting soon, however, which means more trips to the farm are already in the works. :)
If you live near Shepherdstown, WV and would like to check out the farm for yourself… you can contact Carolyn using this form.
You can also catch up with Bellasana Stables on their Facebook business page.