Women in military families enjoy afternoon of 'horsing around'

achristnovich@beaufortgazette.comOctober 20, 2012 

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Sarah Schindler, center, and Heather Todd, right, ride Saturday afternoon during a day of free ridings lessons for military spouses and female active duty personnel at Camelot Farms on St. Helena Island.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver, staff photo

Heather Todd grinned widely as she rode a pearly white horse named Gradylee in smooth circles around a riding arena Saturday afternoon.

Her friend Nancy Bracken smiled just as broadly as she sat atop a dark brown horse while a worker at Camelot Farms Equestrian Center on St. Helena Island taught her basic riding techniques.

"Now I can cross riding a horse off my bucket list," Bracken said after she hopped down.

Bracken and Todd were among about 20 women and girls gathered at the farm and, though their experience levels varied, they all had two things in common: a love of horses and a familiarity with military life.

The event was held by the owners of the farm to give women in the military and the wives and daughters of active duty servicemen a few hours of free riding lessons.

Anne Kennedy, a co-owner of the center with her husband Mike, said she decided to lend her horses and time after her daughter's husband joined the military and a nephew joined the Marines.

Most of the participants Saturday were wives and daughters of Navy personnel and Marines.

Todd, who has experience barrel racing, said Saturday's event helped her reconnect with horses and said its weekend schedule helped her plan around her life as a mother.

Another of Todd's friends, Sarah Schindler, said the women-only aspect was refreshing.

"It just helps you get away from that fast paced lifestyle," Schindler said.

Mariah Hansen also used to barrel race. She jumped at the opportunity to spend time with the animals. It was also the first time Hansen and Dezaree Cepeda met in person after becoming friends through the "marine wives" page on Facebook.

Nieshia White, whose husband is in the Navy, also said the event was good for busy moms. She said she jumped at the opportunity to meet other women with whom she has things in common.

"I've gone around and talked to probably everyone here," White said.

Follow reporter Anne Christnovich twitter.com/IPBG_CrimeNOB

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