It’s no secret that kids love horses. The sense of wonder, fun and freedom they embody is irresistible to the young, and they instinctively gravitate toward these magnificent animals.
Then there’s the other part of it ― the grooming, feeding, cleaning out of the stables and everything else that goes with caring for a horse. That’s something that has to be learned, and it entails a lot of work.
For quite a few years now, Fairfield South in Richmond has been hosting its Black Friday Horse Camp, where youngsters can get hands-on training concerning all aspects of equine care. This year’s event will be held Friday, Nov. 23.
Gary and Marsha Garone have owned and operated Fairfield South since 1984. Over the years they have trained and instructed teams to more than 30 world championship titles, five national equitation championships and countless regional wins.
The farm has been one of the most successful training stables in the Northeast since its opening. The team at Fairfield South is dedicated to their customers, horses and riders, and develop special relationships with each.
“We’re very proud of being a family-owned company,” said riding lesson program director, Devon Garone. “We specialize in Morgan and American Saddlebred horses. We have a horse and rider training program, and we compete regionally and nationally.
“So, we travel to horse shows anywhere from the Big E in Springfield, Mass., to Kentucky, Kansas City and Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Another part of our business is that we offer riding lessons to the public for all ages and riding levels.
“We teach the English style of riding called Saddle Seat, which is an American variant that typically involves Morgan, Saddlebred or Arabian horses. Under the English umbrella there are many subcategories. It’s like when you sign your kid up for dance classes ― you can do tap dance, jazz, ballet or whatever."
Garone and Kyle Gagnon joined the Fairfield South staff in 2007 as assistants. They were both instructed by Gary and Marsha throughout their youth, earning many top titles including world and national championships in the Saddle Seat equitation division. Gagnon assists Gary in the training of the show horses, while Garone serves as the barn’s riding lesson program director. In addition, the two bring students to riding tournaments and academy horse shows throughout the year.
Garone said that the Black Friday Horse Camp is a good way for children to become acquainted with horses and discover what is necessary for their care.
“We’re offering an opportunity for kids ages five and up to come to the barn and do some riding, as well as learning about horse care and grooming," she said. “We also make little treats for the horses. This is a great way for kids to get together as a group, learn about horses and have an enjoyable afternoon."
Garone said that the event is typically well-attended, and they have the facilities to make sure everyone has a good time.
“We have the ability to host 15 kids at a time,” she said. “We have three instructors, and lots of different horses and ponies that can participate. We’re lucky in that we can accommodate a large group.
“This is a great way to introduce kids to horses, and check out if they like it," she said. “It’s a good opportunity for kids to feed the horses, clean up the stables, and basically participate in a comprehensive way. A lot of kids come here to ride, but here they can really be more of an active participant. A lot of the parents like their children to develop a good work ethic, so this is a good opportunity to do that."
The Black Friday Horse Camp will be held at Fairfield South, 111 Old Turnpike Road, Richmond, Friday, Nov. 23, from 1 to 4 p.m. Fees are $50 for the day, or $30 with a full membership. For more information, call 828-7020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit online at fairfieldsouthsaddlebreds.com.