Louisville Magazine

AUG 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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34 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.19 THE BIT to being back in the world. When some- one on the hospital staff asked her, "Isn't there anything you want to do?" Frederick replied, "I want to ride horses again." Years after her recovery, Frederick worked at a transitional home for women and children, and saw herself in some of the things they were going through. While she knew she couldn't fix everything for them, she thought they could benefit from being around horses. "Riding horses is about caring for people, too. You have to be kind," she says. "Maybe if we did that with other people, and with ourselves, we could be better." So HOOF was born, through a part- nership with Betsy Webb, a former riding instructor at Walnut Way who now owns the Louisville Equestrian Center, where the program is held every year. HOOF's all-volunteeer staff, together with LEC employees, have hosted two academies of 30 kids every summer since 2011. Heller says that for the boys from Spring Meadows like Dwayne, cultivating a relationship with a horse can be gratifying. "A lot of the time they feel like everyone sees them as bad, or that they're damaged," Heller says. "But the horses don't feel that. ey only see that you're taking the time to care for them." While kids learn about horse behavior at HOOF, they're also learning about their own emotions, according to May- ghin Levine, director of programs at the Cabbage Patch Settlement House, a chil- dren's-empowerment nonprofit based in Old Louisville that has a long-term part- nership with HOOF Academy. "ere's this giant creature who is dependent on what you do. You have to pay attention," she says. "Like when a horse is mad, its ears lay flat. So I ask the kids, 'What do you do when you're mad? Clench your fists?' It's very much the same." "Most kids when they come, they're afraid," Frederick says. "When they get on the horse, they're doing something they've probably never done before. Just getting on the horse is conquering a fear." At first, HOOF participants and horses walk around the arena, led by LEC coun- selors-in-training, called "ground buddies" at HOOF. Once riders are comfortable on the horse, ground buddies lead them while trotting. Trotting may not be fast, but it isn't easy for new riders, either. Riders must then learn to post, or push them- selves up out of the saddle in rhythm with the trot, to absorb the impact of the horse's movements. e ultimate goal for HOOF students is to trot and post on their own by the end of the week. In the horse world, it's called being "turned loose." Dwayne and the Spring Meadows group line up on one side of a row of orange cones in the middle of the arena, while ground buddies line up the horses on the opposite side. e pair of two- toned brown leather cowboy boots stops in front of a pinto Arabian Saddlebred with deep brown and white patches and a blond mane. e horse's name is Taz. Dwayne places his left boot in the stir- rup and swings the other over Taz's back. He holds a rein in each hand, a hallmark of English-style riding, designed to give the rider closer contact with the horse. "e horse is like your legs, because you're controlling it," Dwayne says. "It's like it's a part of you." Although Dwayne has to draw upon everything he's learned throughout HOOF Academy, riding feels natural to him. It's his chance to think about nothing. "You have to trust the horse and the horse has to trust you," he says. e ground buddy turns Dwayne and Taz away from the orange cones and leads them toward the fence at the edge of the arena, where they'll wait for the signal to walk, and then trot. But the ground buddy drops her hand before making it all the way there. She knows Dwayne has nothing to worry about. He jabs his two-toned boot heels into Taz's side and lifts himself out of the saddle in rhythm with the horse's quickened pace. One week isn't a long time to learn how to ride, but Dwayne has done it. He's turned loose. Later in the afternoon, Dwayne will win the Diane Frederick Vision Award, given to the HOOF participant who shows the most interest and discipline when learning to ride. at plaque will end up in his room at Spring Meadow, after he shows it to every counselor there. Four months isn't a long time to grow up, but Dwayne is trying. In one month, he will turn 18 and age out of Spring Mead- ows. Dwayne says he's had to learn how to face the consequences of his actions, and to take responsibility for himself and those around him. When he leaves, he says, he'll go back to his home state. But not before he spends another week at HOOF camp. He can't wait to learn how to canter.

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