Petru J Viljoen
Bring a child to a horse and both may fall into the water. Both will get back up, dust themselves off, or rather dry themselves and continue their journey – together.
Meeting Leroy, Rodgen (15), Ashleigh (the shy one) and Lechan (11), residents of Glory Hill, at the stables, situated at the entrance to Fairyland in Graskop, was an eye-opener.
When Coopers Creek Horseback Trails came to Fairyland, Graskop in 2017, and the youths expressed interest in the horses and were welcomed. All (except Ashleigh, the shy one) can now mend saddles, bridles, sew kneepads and not only ride the horses expertly but do gymnastics on horseback too – bush-style. When Ashleigh found his voice towards the end of the afternoon he told of how he fell off a horse in February and haven’t been back until the lucky day his bravery and his love for the horses got the better of him.
Grant Lawson of Coopers Creek says as many as thirty children from Glory Hill gather at the stables to commune with the horses and their trainer.
“At first there was chaos. In time, the kids were taught discipline, manners, patience and self-control. As their hand-eye coordination improved, so did their concentration, their confidence grew and they learned compassion,” Grant said.
Since they’ve been involved with the horses, the children say their schoolwork improved, so did their relations with other animals and people. “We are grateful for the time spent meaningfully, rather than hanging out in the streets. There is less time for being naughty and getting into trouble,” Leroy said.
Rodgen said he’s learned respect and responsibility through the interaction with the horses and Lechan said the horses can save one. “When I fell off, my horse nudged me to see if I was okay and waited for me to get back up. I love the horses,” Lechan said. Leroy, a smaller child, says he taught the horse he usually rides to bend its head down for the bridle to be fitted.
Coopers Creek Stables moved to Graskop from Sabie due to the feed available at Fairyland. Grant and his daughter Shannon arrange tailor-made trails for tourists to suit the abilities of all riders, from novice to experience.
The stables house nine and a quarter horses, all rescued from less than ideal circumstances across the country. The quarter horse is a pony. Coopers Creek runs a Facebook page as well as a blog where more information is available.