Newsome fulfills dream
COLERAIN – Leigh Newsome dreamed of being around horses all her life.
But certain events in life make people realize that it’s time to start working on accomplishing those dreams and 9/11 did that for Newsome and her husband Charles.
&uot;I had always wanted to work with horses, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,&uot; Newsome said. &uot;When 9/11 happened we realized that we’re not going to be around forever and it was time to go ahead and put our dream into action.&uot;
That action resulted in Oak Down Stables, an area built around Charles’ mother’s old house that includes seven horses, stables, riding area, a fishing pond and other amenities.
But creating and sustaining the stables hasn’t been the easiest thing for the Newsome’s, especially after Hurricane Isabel.
The hurricane caused huge amounts of damage between the stables and their house three miles away. The Newsome’s knew they had to get to the stable to check on the horses, but getting there was not easy.
&uot;It took us three hours to get three miles and we drove around and around since we couldn’t find the path,&uot; Leigh Newsome said. &uot;Eventually we had to stop the car and climb through the debris to check on the horses.&uot;
The horses were fine and the stables got their name because of the hurricane.
&uot;There was this huge, old oak tree in front of the house and the hurricane blew it all the way over,&uot; Newsome said. &uot;So we got the name Oak Down.&uot;
Since then the stables has grown to the size it is today and a camp was created for young children through the help of various other volunteers.
Ellen Rice, a former jockey and horse groomer, is one of those and became fast friends with Newsome because of their shared interests.
&uot;We decided that with Ellen’s expertise and our facilities, we could give children the opportunity to experience what I was unable to as a kid,&uot; Newsome said.
Newsome and Rice wanted to create a place where children could learn about horses and have the same passion for the animals that they had as kids.
In December of last year, the group started giving lessons and guided trail rides for the public and now offer a day camp for kids during the summer.
The camp is three days for three hours and costs $50 per child.
The popularity of the camp came as a welcome surprise to the founders as they tried advertising it as much as they could throughout the community and the schools.
&uot;The kids seem to love it and they’ve been great at the camp, especially considering the recent heat,&uot; Newsome said.
The last day of camp, the group will have a weenie roast and host Ron Vick, a professional photographer, who will be on hand to take pictures of the kids with the horses.
The group is hoping to have a Saturday camp in October, but have not worked out the details yet as they are still working on the summer day camps which will run through the summer.
&uot;It’s been really hot recently, so we’re trying to work out the details to get through the summer,&uot; Newsome said.
Newsome said the experiences she had this year seeing the kids and the horses together has made the whole project worthwhile and gave her the ambition to continue the camp as long as she can.
&uot;I love kids and I love horses and seeing the two interact thrills me to death and gives me the greatest high.&uot;
The camp is located outside of Colerain on Nowell Farm Rd off of Highway 42.
Contact 356-4130 and visit www.oakdownstables.com