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Bellamy Brook Stables Gets the Ball Rolling By Stephanie Kwok

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reetings from Maple Ridge, BC! This is our first update about Bellamy Brook Stables, a boarding facility owned by the Hansen family since 2007. On this peaceful 11-acre property, nestled amongst the trees on a plateau overlooking the Fraser River, Joanne and her daughter, Marita Muth, provide care for a dozen horses, three of them their own, along with their sweet donkey named Jack. The boarders and horses at Bellamy Brook are a diverse bunch in age, experience and interests. But whatever way we choose to go about it, we share a common goal: to improve our skills with our horses, keep them fit, and have fun. With the arrival of the rainy autumn weather, our usual activities get limited by damp footing - a common experience for lower mainland riders. But, this year, we came up with an idea to keep our horses safely active while having fun: Horse Soccer! As my gelding Merlyn and I have been training for horse soccer for the past year, I offered to conduct an introductory workshop with anyone at the barn who was interested in learning to play. We held our first group workshops on September 24 and October 2, using my 36-inch ball. While a few of the horses needed additional time spent on groundwork to get comfortable with the ball around their hindquarters, all of them were willing to approach and nudge the ball forward with their noses within a few minutes of the first session. Bumping the ball forward with their front legs was another matter entirely, though, and so we focused mostly on exercises to encourage them to try that, rewarding their efforts with lots of praise and scritches. Since then, we have been working individually and in pairs to practice moving the ball and directing it towards a goal zone - lots of lateral movement needed for that. (Easier said than done sometimes!) Normally, in horse soccer game, the ball is “dribbled” at a 44 • Saddle Up • November 2011

trot, but even if you play it at a walk, it’s a hoot, and the horses seem to think so, too. We will be doing one more introductory workshop for the people who couldn’t make it to the earlier sessions, and then we will start our horse soccer training in earnest. We eagerly await the arrival of the new 48-inch ball Marita ordered for us all to share. (My 36-inch ball is a bit small for some of the larger horses to safely play a game with, as it could get stuck under them). The most exciting news is that Marita has challenged us to prepare for a Horse Soccer Game Day that she will host later in the fall for all the barn members and their families. Whatever the weather, I’m sure we will have a ball!

Merlyn is starting to “know” the ball and tries to control it

Shadow shows Bev how brave he is

Deanna with Levi, as he nudges the ball with his nose

Sam tries to set up a pass - easier said than done, sometimes!

Sam’s calm attitude helps Duncan relax as he approaches the ball

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