For Alisah, Jasmine, Taylor, and Anna, it’s not just any day at the Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills (BGCS) but a special one. As they finish their homework and grab a hot meal, excitement grows because they are about to see their new best friend, Savannah V, at the newly remodeled barn at the Weymouth Center.
As they get off the bus, Kelly Dobert, director of Weymouth Equestrians, welcomes them. The organization has partnered with BGCS to offer young people the chance to learn to ride and take care of horses at Weymouth’s historic property.
Once in the barn, they first ask about Savannah V, and Dobert smiles and explains that she’s out in the pasture, still getting comfortable with her new surroundings. She asks each member what they learned last week, and Taylor pipes in, “To count the poop.”
Dobert responds, “Yes, that’s just one of the ways that keep a check on the health of the horse.”
Anna adds, “We learned about all the brushes for mane, tail, and body.”
Dobert feels like the program has far exceeded her expectations. Her goal for the program is for the members to learn all about horses, from the parts of the horse to how their bodies and minds work. She also wants to teach each child in the program about the basic care of horses and their facilities.
Once they start, they work on all the basics, like shoveling the stall and small pasture behind the barn.
Dobert pointed out, “You can see that Savannah is feeling more at home by the cleared area in the grass that shows where she’s rolling around.”
As the kids brushed the sweet mare’s mane and body, Taylor asked, “How many bones does a horse have?”
Dobert replies, “Around 218 bones. Some have more depending on the breed.”
All the girls are surprised at how much hair is getting collected in each of their brushes, while Savannah V is enjoying the attention. It’s a great partnership for everyone involved.
Steve Kastner, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Sandhills, adds, “At the Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills, we are always searching for new ways to assist our members in learning and to grow, all while having fun. The relationship with Weymouth Center has provided us with an excellent opportunity to introduce a unique program focused on equestrian skills, which is a vital part of the Moore County landscape. Our club’s programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.”
Dobert feels like “the program can help the kids overcome some fears and hopes the lessons that they learn through the program can be applied to other parts of their lives and that horses are great for the soul.”
Author Toni Robinson once said, “Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquillity to troubled souls. They give us hope!”
“The Boys and Girls of the Sandhills is all about changing lives,” said Kastner, “and we depend on strong community partnerships like this with the Weymouth Center to help us provide great futures.”
Weymouth Equestrians is having a derby day on Saturday, May 6, at Lyell’s Meadow. The event will feature BBQ from Parker’s Barbecue Wilson, music from Nobody’s Business, and Kentucky Derby cake from Ashten’s Restaurant.
Feature photo: Kelly Dobert (left), Anna, Jasmine and Taylor play with Savannah V at Weymouth Center in Southern Pines.