Horse Sense – trust breeds success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Trust is important in any relationship and even more so between a rider and their horse.

That trust grows even larger between rider and trainer.

Paula Hollowell has been fostering that trust at Mare’s Nest Training Center in Rich Square since 1998.

&uot;I never expected to do what we’ve done here&uot;, said Hollowell.

&uot;I thought we’d be lucky to keep six or seven stalls full.&uot;

Instead of seven stalls, Mare’s Nest is at capacity with 13 horses.

While some are simply borders, the majority are training with Hollowell in preparation for shows across the state.

In September, Hollowell will be taking three riders to compete at the Sport Horse Nationals in Lexington, Virginia.

Riding since age three, Hollowell worked at numerous horse facilities before beginning a seven-year teaching career at Martin Community College.

After leaving Martin, she met Tim Hollowell, married, and settled in Rich Square.

Hollowell has taught riders as young as age three, with her current youngest age five.

Also taking lessons are Peggy Brinkley and her granddaughter Alex.

While Mare’s Nest is a business, Hollowell treats the riders like family.

But even family members have to pull their weight.

&uot;You need to know the whole picture,&uot; says Hollowell.

&uot;This is not a pony ride.

Riders need to know how to take care of and be respectful to the horse.

If you show up and the horse is ready for you to ride, you are getting a false picture of what horse ownership is.&uot;

Carter Miller is an example of how well Hollowell’s work ethic passes to her riders.

&uot;A lot of us (riders) work here in the summer,&uot; noted Miller.

&uot;Six days a week we clean stalls, ride horses and do other barn work.&uot;

Miller will be one of the riders representing Mare’s Nest at Nationals.

To qualify, Miller earned four top five finishes and Champion Showmanship in Hand at the Region 15 competition held July 4th weekend.

Riding for the past 10 years, Miller began working with Hollowell as a Pony Club member.

Now a senior at Monocan High School in Richmond, Miller continues to spend weekends, school breaks, and summers at Mare’s Nest working with her horse Perfection Chipawa, otherwise known as &uot;Chip&uot;.

Miller purchased Chip, the first horse she has owned, two years ago.

&uot;Before I leased and rode other people’s horses,&uot; said Miller.

Miller and Chip competed in their first show together three weeks after she bought him.

&uot;You have to work hard to get the horse to do what you want him to do, not what the horse wants to do,&uot; she stressed.

That trust between rider and horse developed fast as Miller and Chip placed their first time in the show ring.

Riding has allowed Miller to go to many places she otherwise would not see.

&uot;Paula takes us to the Ag Center in Williamston or to Martin Community College to ride,&uot; Miller stated.

Her favorite riding trip was to Gray’s Mountain in Virginia with Cheryl Powell, but riding is not all fun and show ribbons.

&uot;My horse tripped and fell, rolling on my leg the week before prom,&uot; recalled Miller.

&uot;Ever the rider, &uot;I got right back on.&uot;

Aside from allowing Miller to travel, dealing with horses has afforded her the opportunity to learn balance, trust and teamwork as well as meeting numerous new friends.

Teamwork is one of Hollowell’s goals for her riders.

They work together to keep horses groomed, prepare for shows and keep the barn in order.

In addition to Miller, Alison Frei and Hannah Early will also be competing at Nationals in September.

In order to qualify for nationals, riders had to place in the top five of their class.

Riders from North Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and other states competed in the Region 15 competition.

Thirteen-year-old Early will be competing with her Arabian horse Tsullivans Sacred Moon, better known as Sully.

She placed in the top five in Showmanship in hand.

Early and Sully have been riding with Hollowell for four years.

She is the daughter of Debbie and James Frei of Murfreesboro.

Frei has been with Hollowell for six years.

She has been riding One Touch Deal, known as &uot;Monkey&uot;, for a little over one year.

Monkey is Frei’s second show horse.

Frei and Monkey earned Reserve Champion In Hand honors in showmanship.

She is the daughter of Dr. Tim and Jayne Frei of Ahoskie.

Training numerous riders and keeping the barn running takes much of Hollowell’s time, making one of her greatest challenges &uot;staying married&uot;.

&uot;To do it right, it’s time consuming.

Horses can’t feed and water themselves.

They don’t clean their own stalls and give themselves baths,&uot; said Hollowell.

She added, &uot;You don’t just pack up and walk away.

You’re essentially on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.&uot;

Hollowell works hard to keep the horses well maintained.

While the horses rotate between time in the barn and outside in a paddock, Hollowell confirmed that all horses have access to shelter, water, and food.

Shelter is necessary to keep them out of the hot sun and humid and wet conditions.

She believes all horses should have turnout time by saying, &uot;They need time to act like a horse, to run, roll around and eat grass.&uot;

Even under the outside shelters, the horses have a water mister and Hollowell believes strongly in fly control.

&uot;A horse can stamp out a lot of weight by stomping at flies,&uot; she says.

Hollowell’s clients appreciate this extensive knowledge of horses.

&uot;A lot of people can teach riding, but not how to understand the horse,&uot; says Carter’s mother, Ramona. &uot;Paula can figure out a horse in a short amount of time.

I’m convinced she can tell what the horse is thinking.

She can help the rider get into the horse’s head to understand why the horse is doing what they are doing.&uot;

While it may be coincidence, Miller says that many of the horses Hollowell has helped choose have the same personality as their riders.

&uot;Carter is a go-go-go type of person and Chip is the same way,&uot; she observed.

&uot;Sully is laid back and so is Hannah.&uot;

With all the trainers available around the Richmond area, Miller and her husband Jim continue to bring Carter to Mare’s Nest &uot;because it’s like a family&uot;, says Ramona.

&uot;There’s a closeness that keeps pulling us back.&uot;

&uot;Riding has made Carter more focused, given her goals to work towards and she has gotten a lot of enjoyment from it.

Enjoyment not only from the horse portion, but the people she rides and works with,&uot; according to Miller.

While the riders may do much of the work, Hollowell noted, &uot;if they didn’t have the parental support they did, it (riding) wouldn’t happen&uot;.

&uot;They may have to go to school, clean their room and do other things in life, but riding isn’t one of them,&uot; she continued.

&uot;If it’s there, it’s there.

For a lot of these kids, it’s the one thing they want to do.&uot;

Hollowell added, &uot;The riders have done well.

They work hard.

All I ever ask is for their best effort.

I can’t predict what the judge will do, but I ask for improvement from one show to the next.&uot;

As they prepare for their first national competition, Miller, Early and Frei have shown the improvement that comes with hard work, dedication and, most importantly, trust.