ALTON, N.S. – Kaila Watters thought about what she would have loved as a child and decided to make it available to youngsters today.
This led to the development of the ‘Leg Up’ youth club at Meadow Brook Stables, in Alton. Through this she and a friend, Anna Briand, help children five to 16 years old learn about horse care and horseback riding.
“The kids are having a blast,” said Kaila. “Some of them are very enthusiastic about doing chores; they want to be around horses and help.”
Molly Jones is one of those who enjoy working around horses, especially her own horse, Ori.
“It’s calming,” said the 13-year-old. “They tell you a lot of things about yourself that you didn’t know. I was shy and she gave me confidence.”
Molly was taking lessons on Ori and fell in love with her. Four years ago, she was given the horse for her birthday, and she says she would give up many other things in life in order to keep her.
“I ride western and bareback and I’ve shown her once,” said Molly. “I also went in two or three shows with another mare. Kaila and Anna are great; they’ve done a lot for me.”
Eight-year-old Lily Smyth also likes barn work.
“I like grooming,” she said, as she worked detangler into a horse’s tail. “I like all the horses. It’s just fun being here.”
Kaila and her husband bought Meadow Brook Stables 10 years ago, and she offered boarding. In 2011, she had an indoor arena built and started a lesson program.
“The youth club has been running since December,” she said. “We teach basic first aid, hoof care, nutrition… everything they’d want to know if they want to have their own horse. They get ride time as well, and can do either English or western – sometimes bareback.
“We also teach them how to communicate with horses.”
Meadow Brook has a variety of sizes of horses and ponies, chosen for their good nature and calmness, and students have the opportunity to show at local fun shows and paint horse shows.
Kaila breeds and shows American paint horses.
“I like working with horses because they’re very honest, and don’t lie or judge,” she said. “They’re true to themselves, and encourage you to be true to yourself. They’re really interesting, and they’re really good therapy. I’ve seen huge changes, for the good, in some of the kids who’ve been around them.”