Lake Fork Stables is proud to announce that they will be starting a non-profit program for the youth of Wood, Hopkins and Rains Counties. The non-profit will be called “Rider’s Up!” and will utilize off the track Thoroughbreds to teach children how to ride and about horsemanship thereby also providing ex-racehorses with second careers after the track.
Sulphur Springs is home to Shadow Ranch, an equine therapy program, but there aren’t any options for children of low-income families to participate in equine activities despite our East Texas area being a rural, farm community.
“Anybody in the horse industry knows just how life-changing horses can be. Not only does horseback riding promote a healthy, outdoor lifestyle, but multiple studies have shown that horses provide relief from stress and anxiety. Additionally, children learn responsibility and patience,” says Lake Fork Stables owner, Valerie Mellema. “I have seen the joy on a child’s face as they get to ride a horse for the first time and it’s something I want to spread.”
The name “Rider’s Up!” recognizes the retired racehorse aspect of the program, as that is the famous call used to tell jockeys it’s time to mount their horses. Kids are always excited and interested in the fact that the horses are retired racehorses. It makes them feel special to be riding a horse that raced. It is also common to hear people refer to riders of horses in equestrian sports as jockeys.
Over the past few years, there has been a large push for Thoroughbred aftercare by racing organizations and we feel it’s important that not only should these horses be given second careers, but it’s also important to show that they can also be kid-safe, family horses. Thoroughbreds often have a stigma of being wild and crazy, when in fact they often come off the track having seen much of the world and taught to ignore the distractions of the track and large crowds. They also have great personalities, work ethic and many love kids. Lake Fork Stables currently has two off the track racehorses and the program plans on rescuing or adopting additional horses as the program grows.
In order to kick off the Rider’s Up! Program, Lake Fork Stables has started an online fundraiser via StartSomeGood.com. The fundraiser is live at http://www.startsomegood.com/
More information regarding the program can be found online at http://www.lakeforkstables.com
About Lake Fork Stables: Lake Fork Stables is a small boarding and riding lesson facility in Yantis, Texas. It was started in 2017 by Valerie Mellema. Valerie has a BS in Equine Business & Industry from West Texas A&M University. She is a published author and has written for several equine publications and websites. She has over 25 years of experience in the horse industry having worked at the American Quarter Horse Association as well as a Hunter/Jumper facility in Oklahoma.