Horse and Rider - An Unexpected Partnership

Kathryn McNulty works with 21-year-old Bella, who has been with Herds of Hooves for nine years.


1,200 pounds of sleek muscle and a checkered past … may not sound like an appropriate partner for a slight, dark-haired 13-year old girl that weighs in at less than a hundred pounds.
However, according to Abby Walker, president of Herds of Hooves, the pairing - and many more just like them - boasts benefits to each that a more conventional team may not provide.
Herds of Hooves, a Lavonia 501c3 horse rescue and horsemanship lesson program with strong ties to Stephens County, takes a multi-pronged approach to horse welfare.
“We take a different approach, we don’t necessarily take in every horse in need, we try to educate owners if they need help and support,” Walker said. “We do take horse in though; in fact, lesson horse Sadie is a rehabilitative rescue that came out of a feedlot, Grace was a rescue from a life situation change where the owners could no longer keep her, and she was a victim of neglect before that; and Bella was a behavioral rehab and had extreme aggressive tendencies.”
Kathryn McNulty, a Toccoa student just entering high shcool this year, is one of Bella’s regular partners, and both horse and child gain much more than horsemanship techniques.
Its a matter of trust, of responsibility and respect, and the value of partnerships, said Walker.
“This program specifically is life skills through horses; the concept of developing problem solving, empathy,  positive leadership, thinking outside the box when things go wrong, and not forgetting your partner, no matter what,” she explained. “It’s not just riding skills, they learn responsibility, they brush, groom and care for their horse. they learn that they need to show their horse respect because their horse is expected to show them respect.”
Age does not limit the benefits of the Herds of Hooves program - Walker’s youngest student is 3 years old - her oldest is 75.
“I think, physically, riding can be a huge help for seniors. That’s the reason hypotherapy is becoming more well used - it helps joints, it loosens the back and lengthens the muscles. Physically there are so many things that they benefit from it, but even more, its from an emotional and psychological level,” Walker said, adding that in riding a horse, you don’t have to be strong, or be able to run a race.
“Power is not necessary to be successful with a horse,” she said.
Prior to being utilized in the Herds of Hooves horsemanship programs, rescue animals are assessed to see if their personality and adaptability makes them appropriate for working with a range of students.  Horses that are chosen for the horsemanship programs are then put through training to give them both an appropriate skillset and to address any behavioral problems, Walker said.
Walker, who is also the president of the Currahee Saddle Club, based at the Stephens Fairground, said Northeast Georgia is an area rich with riding opportunities, including the riding trails on Currahee Mountain.
Herds of Hooves is accepting students, and more information on the program and their efforts on behalf of abused and neglected horses can be found at their website,

By Jessica Waters,
Southern Outdoor Adventure Magazine

Hunger Games


Teachers of the Year

Teachers work year round. You can bet this group of Teacher of The Year educators and their resective principals are working now to prepare for the upcoming  2014-15 year.
Front row-Cheryl Burkett, Jana Cheek, April LaHayne, Farrish Mulkey,  Buffy Kelley, Eileen Hegeland  
Back-Sherrie Whiten, Terri Powers, Tammy Whitworth, Sherri McCallister, Jason Kaup

Joe Cobb's New Book Available at Ashling

Local author Joe Cobb has recenlty published his new book. Entitled The Bookman's Book of Poetry, this latest work by Cobb will be available July 4 at Ashling Bookstore in Historic Downtown Toccoa.
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