Saddle up

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Open Door Equine offers lessons, therapy and rescues

By Holly Kline

Starting with just $1,000, Stacey Sheley started Open Door Equine and turned the business into a place that provides boarding for horses plus riding lessons, camps and even therapy sessions. Sheley also has a passion for saving horses and has rescued several animals from being sent to slaughter.

Open Door Equine, 5129 N. 600 W., McCordsville, is home to several horses housed in well-kept barns with an indoor and outdoor arena for riding. Sheley accepts requests for boarding and will work with schools and scout troops to arrange tours.

“Our main goals are to educate and to keep horses out of the slaughter pipeline,” said Sheley. “Horses are getting sold at cheap prices to slaughterhouses.”

One of the horses Sheley rescued is Alice Faye, a thoroughbred racehorse bred in Kentucky and related to famous horses like Man O’ War and Secretariat. Alice Faye raced at least 33 times and changed owners twice; the last one put her out in his yard and didn’t feed her. She was eventually sold to a kill-buyer and destined for a slaughterhouse. Sheley had the opportunity to buy her in February 2014 and saved her life.

“Alice staggered over to me and touched my elbow and looked me in the eye. I didn’t think she would live,” Sheley said.

Stacey could feel Alice’s ribs and spine and was horrified at her condition. After eight months of an intense feeding schedule Alice, who is only 7, was healthy enough to ride.

“We took our time and let her body heal completely,” Sheley said.

Alice will be competing in the Retired Racehorse Project’s “Thoroughbred Makeover” event at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington in October. ODE is currently looking for sponsors to help with costs associated with the event.

When she’s not working with Alice and the other rescued horses, Sheley spends time on the therapy side of her business.

“I work with a therapist who is Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association certified,” said Sheley.

According to its website, EAGALA supports professionals who use horse therapy to help people with emotional and developmental needs.

“We do mental and emotional therapy, all on the ground,” said Sheley. “There is no riding and it‘s for kids or families and it can help with injuries, addictions and other issues. We start the session and emotions start coming out within the first 20 minutes. Being around horses is highly effective; people feel like talking to horses.”

Bree Deaver is an intern at ODE and also is the 2015 camp director. She is excited for the upcoming summer camps and is impressed by what she has seen at ODE.

“It’s not the richest barn in the area but it’s got a lot of people and horses that understand you,” said Deaver. “The people are so open and I’ve made a lot of friends. The barn is calm and relaxed and they’re a great family barn.”

ODE offers summer camps for kids ages 8 through 16. Cost is $250 and that includes four days that run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be one camp each week all summer, except for the week around the Fourth of July.

“Kids will feed the horses and water them; there’s lots of hands-on experience,” Sheley said. “After the lunch break kids will practice riding and campers should bring their own riding helmets … I want to teach anything and everything about horses.”

Deaver said that the kids who go to the camps learn the whole equestrian world.

“They experience the work involved, all the responsibility and they learn about the money,” she said. “It’s not just learning to ride.”

For more information, visit www.opendoorequine.com.

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