By Dawn Gronlund
Photos by Briella Gates
Horseback caroling? On a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon just before Christmas, Carolers with their horses decorated, toured the town of Loon Lake, stopping at some of the local businesses and residences to spread holiday cheer. This tradition started eight years ago and is the community service effort of Joyce Morgan, owner and head coach at Legacy Farm and Stable, 4061 hwy 292 in Loon Lake .
The business was founded in 1997 and teaches riding and horsemanship including all the fundamentals of care and grooming. Riding instruction focuses on the three disciplines brought together under the umbrella of Combined Training or Three-day Eventing, one of the original Modern Olympic Games disciplines. In the early 1900’s it was a competition for cavalry officers and their mounts. Horses and riders are expected to go everywhere and do everything, including Christmas caroling in less than ideal weather.
This is truly a unique stable for our area. Instruction in show jumping, dressage and cross country gallops over jumps, teaches young people courage, discipline, responsibility, cleanliness, promptness and compassion. It is a physically demanding sport and builds tremendous confidence in these kids and a real can-do attitude. All this trickles down into the rest of their lives, improving school work and discipline. Plus this is hugely beneficial non-electronic time!
Another aspect of the stable is the community service focus, helping those less fortunate. In 2015 a group of parents and students got together and formed the 501(c) (3) non-profit, Hearts and Horses. The function of the organization is to raise money so that low income kids (as well as needy adults) can learn to ride and to love horses. Money donated from generous sponsors and from several fundraisers that are put on each year, is awarded as scholarships to cover 10%-50% of the lesson costs as well as competition costs, using a sliding scale based on government poverty guidelines. If the student needs more aid, there is opportunity to work at the stable to cover further costs.
All of the students are encouraged to compete. During the 2018 summer season, Legacy Farm and Stable attended 11 competitions. Five of those were on the real “Three-day” format and were “nationally recognized”. An average of five riders from the stable attended each competition. The average of five ribbons coming home per competition is an indicator that this is a winning team, under the wing of a winning coach. Some of those winners are Hearts and Horses scholarship recipients. These kids would never have developed the skills, gotten the practice and experience and been on a winning team, if it weren’t for Hearts and Horses helping with costs that can run over $500.00 per competition. One of the scholarship recipients won first place in her division for regional year-end standings. This same student has only to win one more competition this spring and she will qualify to compete at the world cup of Three-day Eventing in Kalispell Montana, this summer.
The program is seeing a rapid growth in demand. Unfortunately the fundraisers put on by hard working board members aren’t keeping up. Hearts and Horses is actively seeking committed sponsors and donors to help with the upcoming competition season. They hope to find that support in these next few months of early spring.
So if you are looking for a good cause and would like to help out, contact the Hearts and Horses team via www.heartsandhorses.net You can donate online. Or if you would like more information or to visit to watch a lesson and meet scholarship recipients, call Dawn, VP and Public Relations for the Board at 509-258-8977.
If you’d like to book a lesson for yourself, beginner or advanced, or board your horse, visit www.legacyfarmandstable.org. Or if you’re interested in an easy trail ride on a quiet, gentle horse through the extensive trails of Morgan Wood, contact Joyce. A week long summer camp is also available for kids so they can be totally immersed in all things horse. Call or text Joyce at 509-951-5283 if you would like more information.