Believe it or not I was intimidated by horses for most of my life. Growing up and until I turned 40 the closest I ever was to a horse were the Pony rides at the Windsor Fair. When I was about 10 I was told that I was too big for the pony rides and since that time other than a couple of lessons in college which did NOT go well I stayed as far away as possible. Even though I was intimidated, I have always envied people who were able to ride and wished that I was brave enough. In 2005, my husband and I and our boys went to Ohio to see our friend’s daughter, Stacy Westfall, compete professionally in a reining competition at the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus. That is not the place to be if you are at all uncomfortable around horses. During our time there I became more envious of the relationships that I witnessed between the horses and their humans and decided that if there was just one thing I would regret when I was “old”, it would be that I had never over-come my fear of horses. In 2006 I was in our local YMCA for my son's youth basketball game and I noticed a flyer on the community bulletin board for horseback riding lessons in Augusta. I took the little flap of paper with the number on it, put it away just in case- Finally in 2006 I found the courage to call the number. I went to the stable, met the owner and signed up for lessons. I was petrified, I didn’t know how to brush them, I didn't know what to do with all the grooming tools, let alone how to put the saddle on. I'm not sure how long it took me to figure out the front and back on the saddle pad, but Kathleen was great, she just kept reminding me which way to put it on. After a few minutes of instructions, grooming and saddling I was ready to begin. Little did my instructor know, I was shaking inside and out, but didn’t dare to say a word…not one word. I made it through that lesson and many more (consistent) lessons after that. In 2007 my husband and boys gave me a horse for Mother’s Day, well not the actual horse but a card with a note in it that I could go find a horse if Kathleen had boarding space for us. So I immediately called, Kathleen, who had become a very good friend of mine to see if she would help me find a horse and let me board it at her stable. I had some pretty specific ideas of what I wanted my new horse to look like...unique looking, a gelding, age 10, 16 hands…so now to find him. Kathleen was really good and said ok, we will start looking. I was a little naive apparently because after about a week of going thru the internet, magazines, Uncle Henry's Swap & Sell It Guide, newspapers I just couldn’t find one with all the things I was looking for, apparently it's not that easy. After about a week I called Kathleen and told her to just help me find any horse that would be a good fit (I'm not that patient, I wanted my new horse immediately). Well, a few days later, the Sunday before Memorial Day, to be exact…I was at the barn and Kathleen said “look what just came on the Uncle Henry’s website this morning…and she showed him to me. So she called the number and off we went, on Memorial Day. He fit ALL my specifications, spotted, black and white, the right age, and beautiful. I was trying NOT to be too excited, this was a big decision, what did I know about buying a horse, I had just started riding the year before AND didn’t even dare to brush horses when I started, now here I am looking at a horse of my very own. Again like my first lesson, I was shaking inside and out. We drive to Gray, pull up in the driveway, and there he is…looking and watching us all the way up to the barn, and Kathleen said to me – “oh oh look at him –he’s beautiful and he’s already watching you”. The best advice Kathleen gave me was to NOT rush into anything so I left, told the owner I would be in touch. I just couldn't decide what to do...I couldn’t stop thinking about him all the way home. Kathleen was very good, she would offer advice or comments when I asked but never said yes or no. I dropped Kathleen off, went to get groceries, and still couldn't stop thinking about him. Once I got out of the store, I called Kathleen and said "I just didn't know what to do"... her only comment was “he is beautiful, has a great personality and he won't be available very long". Well, that’s all it took, I hung up and immediately called his owner back, she had already had some other calls on him, still shaking with nerves and excitement I told her I wanted him. On June 4, 2007 Kathleen and I headed to Gray with the horse trailer and brought Reo home. We have had our ups and downs, but he is a great horse.
Since that time my Dad started riding at the age of 70, we bought Reo’s very best friend, Sunny who lived with him in Gray. My parents and I spend a lot of time together at the stable and a whole new world of opportunities have opened up for me. I’ve been able to have a few lessons from Stacy Westfall, participate in Clinton Anderson, Jennifer Bauer and Larry Whitesell clinics. I have been able to see Clinton Anderson, Pat Parelli, Chris Cox, Craig Cameron, and nameless others at the Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. I have been to Tennessee several times to attend the Road to the Horse event, taken road trips to show barns for the gaited horse industry, been to the TWH museum and driven all over middle Tennessee (did I mention that Reo and Sunny are both Tennessee Walking Horses? ) . I was also fortunate enough to help with a Therapeutic Riding Program, rescue a horse from an auction house in NJ and made all kinds of new friends in the horse world.
A few months ago Kathleen put the stable up for sale. I started looking around for a new place to board my horses just in case the new owners didn’t want boarders or something happened and I needed a place to go, well I couldn’t find anything. I felt at home where I was and really didn’t want to move. My husband along with my parents and several others kept suggesting that I buy the facility myself. For weeks I kept saying no...what would I do with a place like that. In July of 2012 I called Kathleen and told her that I would like to purchase the stable if she would stay on to help in the transition. The closing was on October 2, 2012 and I am now the proud owner of Whispering Woods Stables (formally known as Serenity Mountain Stables).
Who would ever have thought that I would ever own my own horse, not to mention an 11 stall stable with an indoor ring, round pen, and a new outdoor ring (coming soon).
We are a full service facility offering lessons, clinics, boarding and a wide variety of equine and non-equine events.
Keep checking in....Who knows – the possibilities are endless.
The Story of Whispering Woods Stables: .
Whispering Woods Stables
150 Ingraham Mountain Road
Augusta, Maine 04330