Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” This timeless quote could not be more true during this day and age. Everyday people hardly think twice before turning their keys and hearing the horsepower in their car engines spring to life.
You would be hard-pressed to find a mode of transportation with more of an emotional and romantic connection to the past than mounting a horse. Less mechanical than the bicycle and far more personal than playing a video game, horses have the ability to sense someone’s feelings and offer their own in return. The nature of contact between humans and horse transcends the simplicity of the exchange—thusly it can be hard to explain to those who have yet to saddle up.
Horses are capable of forming deeper bonds than other commonly domesticated furry friends like cats and dogs, according to Dr. Wendy Schonfeld, an instructor certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. Horses respond to respect, loyalty, trust and caring. When a rider works together with a 1,300-pound horse, the pair form a team. There is a mutual dynamic going on that simply doesn’t exist between people and their household pets.
“Riding can be very therapeutic,” agrees Fort Mill native Katie Ott. “It’s a nice break from school or work, and it’s a good way to spend time outside.” Ott has been riding horses since age six, yet for her, riding is more than a welcome recess from today’s fast-paced life. It is a shared family activity passed down from her great uncle.
However, owning and maintaining your own horse is not for everyone. Luckily, there is a more accessible option here in town for those who are interested in equine activities, but are not ready for the level of commitment ownership requires. At the Greenway, the Adopt-a-Horse program allows riders to adopt a horse for three hours each week on every Thursday, Friday or Saturday. The program starts in September and extends all the way through May. Monthly fees start at $75, and the program presents an easy way to start your own family tradition or create unique experiences with your kids.
Schonfeld highly recommends horse riding for all ages, because it builds confidence, as well as self esteem, and helps develop balance and coordination. She is the founder of the RideAbility Therapeutic Riding Center at Cherokee Farms in Clover, which is a nonprofit that specializes in helping people with special needs to improve both mentally and physically. Other great places to ride locally include Larkspur Ranch in Indian Land and the Spratt Farm in Fort Mill.
The emotional element, relaxation and pleasant disconnect from modern amenities is what makes horses remarkable. After all, the rush of a single horsepower stallion can be just as fulfilling as a 304-horsepower Ford Mustang.
About Michael Strenk
Michael Strenk is a resident of Fort Mill, South Carolina who graduated from the University of South Carolina with degrees in International Business and Economics. As part of his university education, he spent two years studying abroad in Hong Kong and interned for a pharmaceutical startup in Shanghai.