Animal lovers, curiosity seekers, horse enthusiasts and those visitors in-between can get up close to our horse herd at “Horsin Around” on July 21 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton. This unique experience — one of many one-day programs at the center throughout the year — not only offers an opportunity to interact with the horses but also learn about general breeds, colors and care. We’ll even explore topics in horse health, grooming and pasture turnout versus stall boarding.
Equestrian Program Coordinator Michelle Dobosz coordinates the center’s program offerings, and July's "Horsin' Around" program has a bit of all horse-related topics to offer. See resident Percherons Rosie and June, who will serve as ambassadors for the day, as staff and volunteers demonstrate proper grooming techniques on the large draft mares. Other planned activities include painting a life-sized fiberglass horse with finger paints, tractor-drawn hayrides and meet-and-greet opportunities to witness our horses’ various breed types, characteristics and roles in our lesson program.
The “Horsin’ Around” program expands Danada Equestrian Center’s many offerings for visitors, many who never knew the facility is open for even just the casual visit. Equestrian Assistant Tessa Carpenter appreciates the extraordinary facility, one that is not only different from others in our area but also endearing to visitors, patrons and volunteers. “Danada Equestrian Center allows the average person to see behind-the-scenes of a working stable that houses horses. It is rare for individuals to be able to walk through a riding stable without being a member or student of a facility,” she says.
Program Coordinator Dobosz believes the horse is a special animal that offers children and adults alike opportunities to build on character, trust and compassion; these additional programs offer even the casual observer an eye-opening introduction. “If people have no interest in learning to ride a horse, the animal still has a lot to offer and much you can learn from it,” says Dobosz. "The horse is a great teacher of responsibility, empathy and how to interact with something that does not speak your same language. You can also learn how to set boundaries, work on respect, gain trust and lead when working with a horse,” she says.
Horses frequent the DuPage forest preserve trails, many of which are multipurpose and used by patrons for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. Trail etiquette by most any trail user is important but especially more so for the visitor coming upon a horse on a trail. For that reason, having horses at one of our facilities not only demonstrates responsible stewardship of the land and its use for recreational purposes but also encourages trail users to become acquainted with the animal’s behaviors and instincts.
Beyond the monthly "Horsin' Around" programs, scheduled riding lessons and summers camps, students can participate in other programs at the center. In trail classes students learn proper etiquette for approaching other riders on horseback. These students interact with pedestrians and bicyclists on the trail to educate them about passing horses safely, sharing information and advancing knowledge. They also discover how to ride the horse through obstacles they often encounter on the trail while under saddle.
A new “No Rush Brush” program is geared towards individuals who have never interacted with a horse or have little to no interest in riding. This hour-long session introduces participants to horse body language and the basics of horse grooming. ”Not only do participants pick up a new skill with grooming a horse but some also find it rewarding and relaxing,” says Program Coordinator Dobosz. "And the horses find it enjoyable, too."
Danada Equestrian Center is much more than a center to house horses. It’s one that offers recreational exercise, volunteer opportunities, companionship, family time — and even respite — for many in the heart of a fast-paced, bustling county. “Danada is an escape from the outside world for a lot of our visitors, and many have shared with me that it is their ‘happy place’,” says Equestrian Assistant Carpenter.