Around 18 years ago, Diana Boyle and her husband founded the Mountain Meadows Equestrian Center in Bridgeport, North Central West Virginia. What was then little more than an indoor arena and stalls, with an old oak barn underneath, is now about 200 acres of land. The old barn has now been remodeled into a new one, and more than a few changes have been added to accommodate visitors, members, and the resident horses. A total of around 48 horses adorn the wood-lined hillsides and their presence at the Center not only is a source of joy for many, but also adds to the picturesque beauty of the landscape.
Not Only for Riding
The Center offers a variety of programs for equestrian lovers and beginners alike. The proof of the Center being equally popular among all ages is the fact that children as young as 3 years old and adults up to the age of 60 participate in various programs with the same fervor.
The Center not only offers summer Camps, but also a Pony Riding Club as a result of popular demand. Students are also given the chance to take part in the numerous in-house horse shows that are held at the Center, which is an added bonus for those who cannot afford to keep their own horses or participate in horse shows on their own. These shows usually have a total of 25 to 30 students participating, according to Diana. Moreover, a number of trails are present all over the 200-acre area, so that students can enjoy different views of the landscape.
Helping People with Therapy
Apart for holding programs that are a source of joy, the Equestrian Center also provides therapeutic opportunities for those who require them. The Centre provides students with occupational physical therapists who help children overcome hurdles presented by conditions such as autism. Furthermore, there are programs for troubled youth to help them develop a more positive outlook on life. The horses are an integral part of these therapies, and have had success so far in helping the students.
A Diverse Experience
The 48 horses present at the Center are diverse in their breeds. Breeds such as Arabians, Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, and Irish Sports are present, among others. Boyle notes that horses are just like humans in the way that they also have feelings and emotions. Not only is riding them a source of excitement, but communicating with them without a language is an experience on its own.
Students at the Center describe riding as a calming experience. They admit that although there is a lot of competition amongst them, they still find it extremely soothing. The serene atmosphere of the region also adds to the experience. Some riders feel that riding takes a lot of patience, saying that there are times when the horses do not feel like going for a ride, and one just has to be patient with them. However, even with such naturally occurring challenges, the Equestrian Center is a source of joy for many minds, young and old alike.